Michele Cantos – Implementation Support Unit of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention

Michele Cantos (right) as ISU Symposium in Bangkok, Thailand
Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan and Michele Cantos (right)
Photo: Implementation Support Unit of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention

As a part of this year’s Geneva Summer Practicum, myself and 6 other Maxwell  students traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for full-time accredited internships with international organizations such as the International Organization for Migration, UNICEF,  and, in my case, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention’s Implementation Support Unit (ISU).

The ISU is essentially the secretariat for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

It supports States Parties of the convention through implementation of the convention’s implementation machinery; provides support to individual States Parties; communicates and provides information about the Convention to all involved parties and the public; keeps records of formal and informal meetings under the Convention; and liaises, and coordinates as appropriate, with relevant international organizations.

My role at the ISU was that of Junior Programme Officer, working under the supervision of the Director, Kerry Brinkert, and in consultation with Implementation Support Office, Paramdeep Mtharu. My main responsibilities were to manage a sponsorship programme for thirty international participants to a four-day symposium held in Bangkok Thailand, for which I was sent “on mission” to Bangkok, Thailand (!!!!!!!) and where I helped the ISU and the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs to carry out the symposium. In addition, I provided logistical support at other meetings, provided simultaneous interpretation and translation from Spanish to English and vice versa, and assisted with small research endeavors on mine action and victim assistance. Also, I am currently collaborating on the writing of a research project that looks at gender mainstreaming in the Cartagena Action Plan of the convention. All this in just 2 and a half months!

My colleagues and supervisor were all incredibly knowledgeable and outstanding people to work with. They often chatted with me about my future career prospects and were preoccupied with giving me work that would be relevant to my interests and academic goals. Kerry Brinkert, who had previously worked for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, became involved in the landmine movement early on and because of this had a lot of unique insights, which he was gracious enough to share.  I was treated as a part of the team and was given responsibilities which not only tested my capabilities but also nurtured my ability to engage successfully in multilateral diplomatic environments.

The Geneva Summer Practicum has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my graduate career! It is, honestly, the opportunity of a lifetime and I would recommend it to any incoming student.

Check out the ISU online: