Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Monday, June 29, 2009

Drug cartels, human traffickers, and pirates -- BEWARE!

Sarah Mielke, a rising 3L from Bismarck, ND, is interning with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria and Nairobi, Kenya.

I’ve spent the first 6 weeks of my summer working for the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. I work at UN City, which is a huge complex comprised of 6 office buildings, 4-5,000 people, and several UN office headquarters. I’ve been working in the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the Integrated Programming Unit (IPU).

UNODC is more or less in charge of coordinating the global effort to fight transnational organized crime – drug cartels, human traffickers, and pirates – beware! IPU is a small sub-office of 7 staff members that writes plans for how UNODC should respond to specific issues or regions.

Being in such a small office has allowed me to do lots of substantial work. Some of the topics on which I’ve worked include:
•    What the UN should do about Somali pirates,
•    How to fortify Central Africa against drug traffickers,
•    A guidance note to coordinate the global response to counterfeit medicine, and
•    The Pakistan saga.

Though my job here often does not focus on traditional law, legal style thinking has been invaluable. As things happen in the world, IPU must formulate an instantaneous response to the particular situation, while still maintaining cohesion with UNODC’s long-term vision and mandate. It’s definitely exciting to read something in the news, and the next day draft a document that says what the international community should do to help the situation.

The job here has been incredible, I must say that living in Vienna has lots of other perks. My first night in town, I saw a performance by one of the most famous opera singers in the world; the hotdogs on the street are even better than New York; and on weekends I’ve been able to visit Prague, Budapest, Paris, and Spain (and for less than the cost of a weekend trip from Lex to DC).

This will be my first and only posting from Vienna, as my time here is ending rather abruptly. The UNODC Counter Piracy Programme is getting underway and I’m moving to Nairobi, Kenya for the rest of the summer to help things get off the ground. More on that later, but for now, over and out from Vienna.

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