Alum of the Month - August 2016

Tarek Cheniti

There have been a few turning points in my life that opened a world of possibilities, and the MSc was one of them. Tarek Cheniti
  • Programme studied: MSc Analysis, Design and Management of Information Systems 
  • Year of Graduation: 2002
  • LinkedIn profile

What's your current job? 

Deputy Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul. This is a new office that has been mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to help improve the human rights situation in North Korea.

Where have you worked previously?

I was an investigator with the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict. I also worked at different parts of the UN system, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the European Commission. I was also a researcher at the Oxford University Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, where I did a DPhil in Management Studies. 

How has the programme you studied helped your career since you graduated?

The programme helped me acquire strong research skills that allowed me to pursue doctoral studies at a later stage. It also exposed me to alternative approaches to management and governance in contexts of science and technology policymaking, which I find most useful as a human rights practitioner as well.  For example I wrote about smart ID cards in the UK in my MSc dissertation, and why using them to combat terrorism was a bad idea. It is interesting that that debate has been reframed in recent years as a human rights concern and not just a technical or political issue.

What would you tell someone who's thinking of pursuing a career in human rights?

It’s a great choice and you should go for it if situations of injustice or discrimination do not leave you indifferent. You do not have to have a legal background to launch this type of career – I don’t – but rather the drive to make a difference and the ability to analyse, plan, communicate, mobilise and negotiate. Those are management skills.

What has been your greatest achievement since graduating?

Working with civil society organisations to help overcome the legacy of authoritarian rule and construct the vibrant democracy that Tunisia is today. It’s a small contribution but it means a lot to me.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing. There have been a few turning points in my life that opened a world of possibilities, and the MSc was one of them.