In Defence of Unpaid United Nations Internships

Not long ago, it was revealed that a United Nations intern, 22 year old David Hyde from the Australian colony of New Zealand, was living in a tent while doing his internship in Geneva. Consequently, criticism has suddenly been directed towards the UN because they do not pay their interns. Instead they expect their young to be financially independent while living in some of the world’s most expensive cities. The cannons of criticism, directed towards the UN, are slowly being fired. However, the criticism is arguably lacking in nuances and such ignorance ought not be tolerated. If the case is given proper consideration, shielded from the throbbing goggles of trending opinions, the UN’s decision to hire unpaid labour has many outstanding benefits to it.

First of all, poor people are less fun. When going for an after-work pint, you don’t want some guy to ruin the mood by talking about how his Hepatitis B stricken family are working three shifts for him to be there. Nor do you want to hear about how he is working part time to pay for his sister’s tuberculosis treatment. Furthermore, if you did not grow up with cable TV and Baywatch, you will be unable to understand references to Chariots of Fire or know why Pamela Anderson is famous. Hence, poverty can make you somewhat of a social bore. Considering UN employees have to work with sad things during daytime, they don’t want to hear about your natural disasters or home evictions in their spare time.

Secondly, affluent people will inevitably understand the world better. As poor people and those from less technologically developed places are unlikely to have Macs, iPads or Twitter accounts, it is doubtful if they are aware of what is going on in world. Furthermore, as their monetary shortage has probably meant they do not enjoy the most prestigious educations or internships, it is improbable that they can contribute with any new insight or knowledge. Not to mention that less privileged people are less likely to have taken a gap year. Hence, they have not been able to truly feel and study world problems from a pool in Bali or a beach chair in Goa. By not paying their interns, the UN is in fact ensuring that they have the most aptly taught minds.

Thirdly, considering poverty is one of the world’s biggest problems, the UN is remarkably resourceful about not making it their problem as well. By expecting the intern to pay their expenses in Geneva or New York, the UN ensures that poverty does not become something that can be found in their foyers. Not to mention that by keeping expenses low, the UN is boosting employment. If the rest of the world had been able to demonstrate the same resourcefulness, we would presumably not have problems in the first place.

By hiring unpaid interns, the UN is making sure that only the right people are allowed in their midst. Thereby, the UN makes sure that being an intern in their unsullied vestibules is a pleasant and rewarding experience for everyone present. Thus, in the quest for a better world, the UN has yet again done us all a great service. How this can be criticised is beyond me.

My defence could have gone on, but now I am off to play golf with Trump and I’d hate to get stuck in traffic behind some plebeian. Tata.


Plebeian cheating his way into an UN internship –

The UN contributing with 4000 jobs in 2012-2013 –

Unpaid interns not knowing their place, nagging an always diligent Ban Ki-moon –

The UN making sure that only proper people are allowed internships –


'In Defence of Unpaid United Nations Internships' has 1 comment

  1. 10/05/2018 @ 8:52 am Gabrielle Iriks

    Great Article! My sister was an unpaid UN Intern and nearly starved to death until a visiting relative showed her how to live out of the bins behind the supermarkets. Its really disgusting and she was also overworked for incredibly long hours. High time this ruse was accounted for!


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