University of Oregon

Law and Human Rights in Phnom-Penh

Program Overview

As Cambodia leaves behind its difficult modern history, new challenges are emerging. Economic growth has been strong, but the distribution of wealth has been uneven and large segments of the population remain in poverty. A particular challenge in Phnom Penh stems from the Khmer Rouge nullifying private property rights in 1979. When the regime fell and people scrambled to claim property, the poorest were shut out and had to settle on state land.  Today, the people in the communities that subsequently sprung up are marginalized and face eviction. The uncertainty of housing rights is economically disruptive and these communities lack the basic foundations for healthy livelihoods, including access to public services and social cohesion.

The law project works with disadvantaged communities to connect them to helpful resources and empower them to understand their rights.

Program Description:

  • Work five (5) to seven (7) hours a day with a local organization to help disadvantaged communities face a wide range of issues.
  • Problems frequently revolve around housing rights and protecting community members from evictions.
  • Issues related to public services like drinking water, electricity and healthcare also come up, in addition to others concerning waste management and pollution.
  • Interns collaborate with local staff on many activities:
    • reaching out to marginalized communities
    • evaluating community needs
    • designing advocacy campaigns
    • leading workshops.
  • As needed, interns also contribute to the operations of the organization by: 
    • sharing their computer and language skills with the local staff
    • bookkeeping
    • proposal writing


  • Eager to contribute.
  • The flexibility to participate in many different tasks depending on the ever-changing needs of the organization.
  • The creativity and initiative to work in an environment with limited resources.
  • Education and/or professional experience in a community organizing, human rights, or law-related field.


  • It is each intern's role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes an international internship so special.

This internship is self-directed. Participants must be able to work independently and contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities you were not expecting to work in.

This service learning internship opportunity is made possible through a partnership with UBELONG, the world's leading social organization for high-impact volunteering and learning opportunities abroad. UBELONG's mission is to bring people together across borders to share their humanity and take action for positive change.

Internship Details

Students must intern for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for a total of at least 240 hours for an 8-week internship.  This will earn 8 internship credits.

In addition to 8 internship credits, students will enroll in a 1-4 credit Intercultural Communication online course.  This course is designed to provide ongoing support to students who do internships abroad.  Students will observe, explore and investigate the core cultural values in their host country during the service learning internship, conduct comparison in the differences between their host and home country, and develop critical thinking skills and culture learning strategies. Some of the topics discussed in this course include: attitudes toward time, space, age, gender and authority, different views on self/others, conflict styles and culture shock. 

A weekly assignment for the online course includes: reading assignments, group discussions and/or a weekly journal.  The number of enrolled credits will determine the course workload.  It will begin one week before your internship begins and end one week after completion.

Eligible applicants will be considered automatically for a Freeman Fellowship for up to $6,000 in funding toward internships in East and Southeast Asia.

Housing Description

The Intern House is part of a lively hostel located in the city center near restaurants and shops. Staff is available 24/7 at the house to assist interns with any needs. Interns generally share a room with one to three other interns.

Additional Requirements

  • Prior to arrival, participants must provide a police background check.
  • Must be 21 years or older.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.