Check out an interview with our 2020 International Law and Human Rights Scholarship recipient.
Nino Kvaratskheliia is a first-year Master of Public Policy student from Kyiv, Ukraine, and the 2020 recipient of the International Law and Human Rights Scholarship. She came to the Hertie School with an international law and international relations background to expand her knowledge and learn about policymaking.
What were you doing before starting your studies this fall?
Before moving to Berlin, I worked as the Program Assistant at the National Democratic Institute (NDI-Ukraine), an international non-profit organization working for the strengthening of democratic institutions worldwide. I was engaged in the promotion of gender equality in Ukraine. It was an extremely interesting experience for me as I got to learn about the socio-economic impact of gender inequality and the tools available to the governmental institutions and civil society to change the status quo. I also got a chance to work with the NDI Election Observation Mission to Ukraine's 2019 Snap Parliamentary Elections and see the election process's peculiarities and political campaigning. Before joining the NDI-Ukraine team, I did one-month internships during my bachelor’s studies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine.
Why did you choose the MPP programme?
When I looked at the study programs at the Hertie School, I immediately knew I would apply for the Master of Public Policy. After obtaining professional experience at the NGO and governmental bodies, I realized that I would like to pursue a career in the public sector, particularly public consulting. Therefore, I thought that the MPP program would provide me with the skills and knowledge necessary to start a career in this direction. Besides, as a graduate of the Institute of International Relations in Kyiv, I already had some knowledge in international relations and international law, which is why I was more inclined to the MPP rather than MIA.
Which MPP concentration will you choose and why?
I chose the Policy Analysis concentration as I truly enjoyed studying Stats I and Econ II. During my bachelor's studies, I didn't take statistics at all. It was not easy to grasp the basics of this subject in such a short semester, but I still enjoyed the process of opening it up for myself. I believe that statistics knowledge will expand my analytical skills and help me in my future career to propose policy solutions based on reasonable and trustworthy research findings.
What motivates you about international law and human rights, and in what ways do you plan to pursue these interests during your master's – and afterwards?
After participating in the Philipp C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in 2018-2019, I realized that international law and human rights law are constantly evolving and changing. During the Moot Court Competition, I had to work on the issues that were not yet determined by the rules of international law, which made the whole experience very challenging and exciting. I believe that there is a lot of work to be done in the future as we need to adapt the rules of international law to digitalization processes and ensure the protection of human rights in the digital era. In my essay for the scholarship, I wrote how the digital age had posed a threat to the protection of fundamental human rights, particularly to the right to privacy. I want to continue to explore this issue in my research papers at Hertie and in my master's thesis.
I already had a chance to write a policy memo addressing the loss of an individual's control over personal data on the internet. I am also looking forward to taking courses such as "Communication technology and contentious politics: Human rights, protest, and conflict in a digital world" and "Artificial intelligence in government" to enhance my understanding of the issue. As I said, I would like to try public consultancy and work on policy solutions that utilize digital technologies to improve service delivery and transform the way the public sector functions while ensuring the protection of human rights.
Do you have any advice for prospective students interested in pursuing a master's degree in your particular field despite the uncertainties we're all facing today?
I started the semester offline, but in November, I had to switch online for most of the classes. I have to say that the teaching quality was not affected at all, and I enjoyed online lectures and seminars as much as I enjoyed the offline ones. Besides, the Hertie campus remains open, and I can go there, study in an academic environment, and talk to my colleagues. Of course, I realize that prospective students who can't come to Berlin due to the pandemic might miss the opportunity to network and establish friendships, which is an essential part of joining the Hertie community. So, it is important to weigh all the pros and cons in this period of uncertainty and take the decision that best suits your goals. But anyway, Hertie is definitely the right place to study public policy. Just be optimistic and do what you think is best for you.
What has been the best part of Berlin so far, and do you have any favourite spots in the city already?
The best part of Berlin for me has been the climate. It is not as cold as in Kyiv where it can get to -15 Celsius in the winter. So, despite the grey sky of Berlin, I enjoy the weather here, and the autumn has been quite sunny. My favourite spot so far has been the Regierungsviertel. The first time I was there, I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets. The sky's color was magical, and it reflected in the river and in the buildings around. So, since then, this place has a special place in my heart.
Learn more about the International Law and Human Rights Scholarship here.