Africa Legal & Advocacy Officer at International Service for Human Rights

Africa Legal & Advocacy Officer at International Service for Human Rights

Position: Africa Legal & Advocacy Officer

Work percentage: 100%

Length: Open-ended contract

Location: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (other appropriate locations in Africa also considered)

Start date: As soon as possible

Reports to: Africa Programme Manager

Applications close: 22 May 2023


The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) is an independent, non-profit organisation with offices in Geneva and New York. This position offers a unique opportunity to contribute to our work supporting human rights defenders, strengthening human rights systems, building and leading human rights coalitions, and responding to significant and systemic human rights concerns. For more information, consult our website

The position

The Africa Legal & Advocacy Officer will be based in ISHR’s office in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Under the supervision of the Africa Programme Manager, the Africa Legal and Advocacy Officer plays a key role in supporting ISHR’s work to strengthen legislative protection of human rights defenders in Africa as well as its advocacy at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. As part of the Africa Programme team, the position holder will also be part of ISHR’s larger Programme on transparency and rule of law and be required to participate in and contribute to the work of another programme within ISHR –Equality, dignity and non-discrimination;Environmental justice and sustainability; orInternational accountability.

Key responsibilities

Under the supervision of the Africa Programme Manager, the Africa Legal and Advocacy Officer will be responsible for:

Supporting the implementation of ISHR’s work on legislative protection of human rights defenders in Africa through:

● Research and monitor existing national legal frameworks, including restrictive legal environments for defenders, in African countries;

● Monitor the implementation of adopted HRDs laws in countries in which ISHR works in Africa;

● Update and maintain ISHR’s world map showcasing developments of legal instruments promoting and protecting human rights defenders, for African countries;

● Support the implementation of local advocacy activities related to the protection of human rights defenders. This includes development of advocacy campaigns and activities in consultation with civil society, and engagement with legislative bodies, executive/government agencies and departments, and other relevant stakeholders;

● Assist in the delivery of capacity strengthening activities in African countries where ISHR works to strengthen legislative frameworks, including through the conceptualisation and design of consultations and workshops, preparation of materials, and facilitation of sessions;

● Conduct and support strategic litigation and interventions to promote the legal recognition and protection of HRDs and to challenge legislative restrictions on their work in Africa;

● Contribute to and animate a network of legal professionals in Africa, in furtherance of ISHR’s work on legislative protection of defenders on the continent. This will include moderating the listserve, convening meetings and organising trainings for the members.

Supporting the implementation of ISHR’s advocacy objectives at the national and regional levels through:

● Assist in the conceptualisation, design and implementation of advocacy activities and campaigns to influence regional and national standards, institutions and policies relating to the promotion and protection of human rights defenders in Africa;

● Monitor developments at regional mechanisms and in other relevant forums relevant to standards, policies and practices pertaining to the promotion and protection of defenders in Africa and identify opportunities for engagement;

● Preparation for, including all logistical and administrative aspects, and participation in the ordinary sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

● Represent ISHR in, and contribute to the work of, the Litigants Group for the strengthening of the protective mandate of the ACHPR;

● Develop and maintain productive relations with State representatives and regional mechanism officials;

● Represent ISHR at local advocacy meetings with civil society, government officials, parliamentarians and national human rights institutions as well as with African Union officials;

● Maintain and develop ISHR’s relationships with partner organisations, allies across government, legislative bodies and regional human rights mechanisms;

● Write or contribute to the drafting reports, briefings papers, position papers, formal correspondence, presentations, web pieces, and other internal and external documents articulating and contributing to ISHR’s advocacy objectives in Africa;

● Contribute to the implementation of capacity strengthening activities for civil society in Africa on the use of African human rights mechanisms;

● Effectively communicate and promote the work of ISHR in Africa;

● Carry out any other duties needed for the fulfilment of the Africa programme objectives or the effective operation and functioning of ISHR.



  • University degree in human rights law, international public law or equivalent, with admission to practice as a lawyer in an African jurisdiction an advantage;
  • Minimum 5 years of experience working on legislative and policy changes and advocacy at the national and regional levels within a human rights organisation;
  • Knowledge of international legal and policy matters relating to human rights, particularly the promotion and protection of human rights defenders;
  • Knowledge of the national legal frameworks in Africa;
  • Experience in carrying out and/or using legal research, ideally in a human rights context;
  • Experience working on issues affecting civic space in Africa, including restrictive legislation;
  • Knowledge of and experience advocating at regional human rights mechanisms in Africa, especially the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  • Experience developing, organising and delivering trainings and consultation workshops;
  • Attention to detail and ability to easily communicate legal and technical information orally and in writing;
  • Ability to work cooperatively internally and externally with different stakeholders and people from diverse backgrounds;
  • Excellent ability to represent ISHR externally, including in a diplomatic context, in governmental and other discussions;
  • Ability to plan and prioritise work, including when under pressure, and to ensure that deadlines are met;
  • Project management experience;
  • Ability to effectively work remotely and independently;
  • Excellent level of written, spoken and legal proficiency in English and French;
  • A strong commitment to, and passion for, the principles and practice of human rights
  • A commitment to contributing to ISHR’s work on transparency and rule of law, including through solidarity and support to defenders working to promote transparency, to combat corruption, and to safeguard and strengthen laws and institutions that protect defenders and promote democracy, accountability and the rule of law;
  • A strong interest and relevant experience in another core ISHR programme area –Equality, dignity and non-discrimination;Environmental justice and sustainability; andInternational accountability.


  • Fluency in a language spoken in Africa other than French or English such as Portuguese, Arabic etc. an asset.


The monthly remuneration for this position ranges from EUR 3000 to EUR 3500 (depending on qualifications, experience and location).

Equal opportunity

ISHR is firmly committed to having a diverse team and to the principle of equal employment opportunity. ISHR’s policy is to practice fair and non-discriminatory recruitment and selection procedures and strive for diverse, international and multicultural personnel.

We welcome all kinds of diversity. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction including on grounds of race, colour, national origin, age, religion, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or sex characteristics, pregnancy, genetic information, protected veteran status, socio-economic status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

We particularly welcome applications from systematically, historically and/or traditionally discriminated against groups, including women, persons of colour, LGBTIQ+ persons, persons with disabilities and other groups.

How to apply


Please submit your application by filling outthis form and attaching a cover letter, a CV (no profile picture please) and one writing sample. ISHR will review these products only for the purpose of this recruitment and will not use them for any other purpose.

Applications will close on 22 May 2023.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please note that due to the high volume of applications, only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

All applications will be handled in accordance with ISHR’s Privacy Policy.


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