West Africa Researcher

Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide. We scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice. Human Rights Watch is an independent, international organization that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all.

Position Description 

Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) is seeking a West Africa Researcher for its Africa division.  The Researcher will be responsible for developing and implementing a research and advocacy agenda focusing on human rights conditions in West Africa countries. The position reports to the West Africa team leader in the Africa division.

Roles and Responsibilities 

  • Research, monitor and document human rights abuses in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia by collecting and analyzing information from a wide variety of sources including governments, local media, NGOs, victims, witnesses, journalists, diplomats, security forces and others in the field;
  • Write and publicize reports, briefing papers, letters, news releases, op-eds, and submissions to international bodies based on the findings; collect supporting documents and materials such as photographs and videos;
  • Assist in the development and implementation of local, regional, and international strategies to change abusive laws, policies, and practices;
  • Respond promptly to queries from the media, public, and colleagues in the human rights community and take initiative to project concerns in public debate;
  • Place abuses within the broader political, social and economic contexts and present human rights concerns to government officials, opinion leaders, inter-governmental agencies, and the media;
  • Assist the Director of the Africa division and HRW’s Development and Global Initiatives Department in conducting fundraising;
  • Work closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local human rights organizations to ensure that HRW’s work complements and enhances their own work;
  • Liaise effectively with HRW staff located in multiple locations throughout the world to ensure effective coordination and delivery of activities;
  • Be prepared and willing to work flexible hours to accommodate developing and urgent events; 
  • Travel domestically and internationally, as required, to conduct fact-finding missions;
  • Deliver outputs in a timely manner and maintain consistency with the agreed strategy and priorities of the Africa Division; and
  • Carry out any other duties as required.

Eligibility and Requirements 

  • An advanced (graduate) degree in international relations, journalism, law, social sciences, or related studies is required.
  • Minimum three years of relevant experience in human rights research is required.  Experience living or working in West Africa and country expertise in either Cote d’Ivoire or Liberia are advantageous.  S/he must be able to travel domestically and to West Africa, for two or more weeks at a time, several times a year. Fluency in French is required.
  • HRW will consider placing the successful candidate in the US, Europe or West Africa.
  • Ability to identify, research, analyze and effectively communicate important human rights developments in the area of specialty is required.
  • Ability and sensitivity to conduct interviews with a wide range of people, including victims and witnesses are required.
  • Ability to efficiently distil information about the country or thematic issue so as to focus time and effort on issues of greatest importance or issues that are most capable of being influenced is required.
  • Ability to identify and advise the Director/Department in developing and implementing advocacy strategies in order to seize advocacy opportunities is required.
  • Knowledge of and experience working in international human rights and familiarity with international human rights law is required.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English and French are required.
  • Strong initiative and follow-through, the capacity to think creatively and strategically, excellent writing and editing skills, and a dynamic public speaking ability are required.
  • Strong interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively within HRW, as well as with external partners, are required.
  • Ability to multi-task effectively, including having good planning and organizing skills and ability to work under pressure are required.
  • Ability to make sound decisions consistent with functions is required.
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically about the global and local media environments and how to use the media and electronic media to further advocacy goals is desirable.

Application Instructions 

Please submit a cover letter explaining your interest in and qualifications for the position, a curriculum vitae,  a brief writing sample (unedited by others), and contact information for three references to africajobs@hrw.org. Please use “West Africa Researcher REF: AFR-14-1008-B” as the subject of your email. Only complete applications will be reviewed, and only qualified candidates will be contacted.