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Internship at a UNIDROIT office (OKANO, Naoyuki)


I have stayed at UNIDROIT in Rome, Italy, for a short internship from February 1st to March 25th, 2016. This internship has been coordinated within the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between UNIDROIT and Nagoya University School of Law, concluded in 2015. In this short report I briefly explain what I have learned from the internship, not least for future participants to this internship program to have a clearer idea on what one can expect from the internship.

My internship at UNIDROIT was quite valuable, not just as an experience to work at an international organization, but also for furthering my own research. My current research is in the area of land law, especially focusing on the issue called ‘land rush’ or ‘land grabbing,’ where foreign (and domestic, or hybrid) investors take a control of land through investment contracts in such countries as those in Sub-Sahara Africa, Latin America and South East Asia, thereby causing possible human rights abuses. Among many kinds of policy responses to this problem, there have been efforts to make land investment more responsible and accountable. In this context, now UNIDROIT is in the process to discuss a feasibility to contribute to this line of policy making, in such ways as, for instance, preparing international guidance document on private law aspects of land investment contracts. As such, I have been involved in this feasibility study under the supervision of Mr. Neale Bergman, Legal Officer at UNIDROIT.


With colleagues

I have worked on this matter in two ways. First, with close supervision from the supervisor, I have conducted legal research and also taken part in part of the drafting process of the feasibility study. Second, rather independently, I have pursued a research on a specific topic on community development agreements in the context of land investments, and shared information gathered through the research for the sake of the feasibility study. Through the work, also, I have collaborated with other interns at UNIDROIT to fulfill the responsibility jointly.


With Prof. A. Mazzoni, President of UNIDROIT

Also, the internship has been a good opportunity to meet with not just officers at UNIDROIT but other young colleagues from different countries. During my stay, I have met those interns and independent researchers from China, Uganda, Brazil, Iran, France, India, Tunisia, Czech and Bolivia. They were working in wide-ranging topics including contract farming, security law in emerging markets, protections of cultural property and others. From time to time, we had a lunch or dinner together to exchange ideas and experiences. These networks may well be valuable for my future career.


With other interns and independent researchers

I believe that the internship at UNIDROIT will become most valuable for both UNIDROIT and participating students when they have a clear idea on what you expect from the internship. If there are some projects that are ongoing at UNIDROIT which is closely related to the research of the participant, like in the case of mine, one can expect to have a real experience to be involved in legal research and drafting at UNIDROIT while researching on your topic. When there are no specific projects, though, one can look at past projects of UNIDROIT and stay there as rather an independent researcher, where one can expect extensive research materials stocked at UNIDROIT library as well as discussions with professionals who worked for such projects. Last but not least, I am grateful for joining in the internship at UNIDROIT, and truly appreciate all the supports from Nagoya University School of Law without which my internship has not been ever possible.


Celebrating birthday of an officer


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