Early in Spring '23, students from AUR's BA in International Relations and Global Politics, class of Humanitarian Assistance, visited the Italian Headquarters of UNCHR with Professor Cornet. There they met Enrico Guida, Protection Associate at UNCHR. Students made the most of the opportunity to engage with a professional working in their field of study to discuss the real-world application of international humanitarian law and principles of humanitarian values that they had been studying in their recent classes.
A particular focus of the student-led conversation revolved around the concept and realities of 'stateless people,' a very particular category of refugees. In international law, a stateless person is someone who is "not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law." Some stateless people are also refugees. However, not all refugees are stateless, and many people who are stateless have never crossed an international border. On November 12, 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated there are about 12 million stateless people worldwide. Driven initially by a single question, this lengthy discussion served to reveal the complexities of the work that the UNCHR undertakes.
One field trip participant, Sydney Crompton, told us, "The opportunity to engage with Mr. Enrico Guida was a perfect opportunity to understand the processes of the UNHCR. Deepening our understanding of statelessness and the signs of this immense structural issue helps us find a firmer grasp on the wider world and its issues."
Fellow student, Isabella Desinno added, "It was fascinating to observe how the concepts we learn in class are put into practice through the efforts of the organization that works to assist individuals in their quest for a better quality of life and in their quest to adapt and fully integrate into a new society without being considered as outsiders. Seeing the practical application of our knowledge not only enhances our understanding of the subject matter but also helps us to appreciate the relevance and importance of what we learn. Witnessing how the theories and concepts we have learned in class are used in real-life situations can be an eye-opening experience that allows us to see its practical application in the world around us".
The UNCHR headquarters are located in Piazza Vittorio, a popular and highly multicultural neighborhood near the center of Rome. Upon the conclusion of the 'official' field trip, students (and professors) were able to explore the neighborhood, which is markedly different from the one they occupy on Gianicolo hill.