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Call for applications: Advocacy and research fellow

Deadline: Sunday 15th January 2017

Location: Kampala, Uganda

Duration of contract: 12 months non-renewable


DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) is the secretariat to a network of more than 75 member organizations drawn from eleven countries in the sub-region (Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (and Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). The project was designed to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the East and Horn of Africa sub-region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. The Project envisions a region in which the human rights of every citizen as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) are respected and upheld. DefendDefenders implements activities in the areas of protection, advocacy and capacity building.

DefendDefenders’ Advocacy and Research Department works to raise awareness of the challenges facing human rights defenders in the sub-region and to promote the implementation of concrete measures to improve their situation.
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The program also seeks to facilitate the effective engagement of HRDs with the regional and international human rights mechanisms. At the regional and international level, the Advocacy Program supports members to access the United Nations and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). DefendDefenders has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC status), which enables us and our members to participate in UN forums such as the Human Rights Council. We also have observer status with the ACHPR and sit as a member of the Steering Committee of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the Ordinary Sessions of the ACHPR (known generally as the NGO Forum).

The Research Program supports these efforts by producing original research as well as participating in research partnerships on thematic and emergent issues. DefendDefenders seeks to provide timely, relevant and accurate information and assist in providing in-depth analysis of current trends impacting on the situation of human rights defenders in the sub-region and to develop appropriate recommendations for the better protection of HRDs.
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Further information about DefendDefenders’ activities can be found on the website or through our social media outlets on Facebook or Twitter.


DefendDefenders is seeking applications for the role of Advocacy and Research Fellow. Reporting directly to the Advocacy and Research Officer, the Fellow will be responsible for providing up-to-date, relevant and reliable information, as well as in-depth analysis of current trends impacting on the situation of human rights defenders in the East and Horn of Africa.

The fellowship is a 12 month, non-renewable position, commencing in early February 2017. The fellow will be reimbursed by way of a stipend, and the position includes a generous funding provision for regional travel and other advocacy and research activities. The fellow will be responsible for securing necessary authorization to work in Uganda, with the assistance and guidance of DefendDefenders.

The fellow should have a well-established background in field and desk research with a demonstrable output of written publications. In addition they should be well-organised, work effectively under pressure and be a good team player. The successful candidate must be self-motivated and able to work independently with minimal supervision. They should be willing to travel occasionally, as required.

Key responsibilities:

  • Support advocacy at the UN Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights;
  • Conduct desk and field research, under the supervision of DefendDefenders staff members, into issues affecting human rights defenders across the sub-region, in line with DefendDefenders’ strategic advocacy priorities;
  • Demonstrate and uphold the highest ethical standards throughout all stages of research, including data collection, storage, collation, and reporting;
  • Monitor and analyse political and human rights developments in the sub-region, and contribute to the development of advocacy/research materials for external and internal use, such as briefings, annual report entries, public statements, web features, audio visual material and correspondence;
  • Responsible for the production of high quality written reports, press statements, and advocacy materials suitable for publication in English and French;
  • Contribute to the promotion and dissemination of research findings through advocacy and public engagement activities;
  • Conduct advocacy trainings;
  • Take the lead on Universal Periodic Review and Model Law for Human Rights Defenders initiatives; and
  • Assist the Advocacy department with administrative activities, including organizing research and advocacy mission logistics.

The successful candidate will have:

  • A post-graduate Degree (Human Rights, Law, International Relations, Communications/Journalism Studies, or related field);
  • A minimum of two year’s experience working in human rights, ideally working within an NGO, academic institution, civil society organisation or other directly relevant institution;
  • Excellent research skills, including familiarity with human rights research methods and ethics, demonstrated by a body of published research;
  • Excellent written and editing skills;
  • Highly developed interpersonal skills and ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships in a culturally diverse environment;
  • Self-motivation, organization, and the ability to meet deadlines with minimal supervision;
  • Willingness to travel;
  • Fluency in written and spoken English and French;

The following criteria are not compulsory but highly desirable:

  • Training skills and experience;
  • Familiarity with the human rights situation in the East and Horn of Africa sub-region, including experience working in the region.

How to Apply

Please apply by emailing in a single submission the following documents: a letter of motivation and a C.V. with details of educational background, human rights activities and three references, as well as a writing sample unedited by others of between 1,000 and 1,500 words to [email protected] no later than Sunday 15th January 2017.

Please do not attach copies of qualifications at this stage. Only complete applications will be reviewed. It is preferred that all materials be submitted via email. We regret that owing to the volume in applications only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Equal employment opportunities and having a diverse staff are fundamental principles at DefendDefenders where employment and promotional opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established under international human rights principles.