Humanitarian Affairs Advisor – Legal Specialist At MSF – Holland

MSF is an international, independent medical humanitarian organisation. We provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. We are a non-profit, self-governed, member-based organisation. MSF was founded in 1971 in Paris by a group of journalists and doctors. Today, we are a worldwide movement of more than 63,000 people.

MSF coordinates operations through collaborations between global offices. The ‘MSF Operational Centre Amsterdam’ (OCA) is a partnership that is composed of the partners MSF-Canada, MSF-Germany, MSF-SARA, MSF-Sweden, MSF-Holland and MSF-United Kingdom. MSF-OCA has a team of more than 11,000 staff working in 115 emergency projects in about 31 countries.

The office of MSF-Holland located in Amsterdam hosts more than 400 employees, offering direct support to MSF-OCA operations. Around 50 staff focus on recruitment, communication and fundraising and 350 staff are focused on supporting MSF-OCA operations.

MSF is a civil society initiative that brings together individuals committed to the assistance of other human beings in crisis. As such, MSF is by choice (Chantilly) an association. Each individual working with MSF does it out of conviction and commitment and is ready to uphold the values and principles of MSF.

At Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) / Artsen zonder Grenzen, we are committed to an inclusive culture that encourages and supports the diverse voices of our employees. We encourage applications from individuals of all genders, ages, sexual orientations, nationalities, races, religions, beliefs, disability status, and all other diversity characteristics.

The Humanitarian Affairs & Operational Communications Team (OSCAR) of MSF OCA is per 15 January 2022 looking for a:

Humanitarian Affairs Advisor – Legal Specialist (100%)

Remote working possible, preferably based in The Netherlands –

The Department comprises Humanitarian Affairs Advisors in Amsterdam and Berlin who work closely with MSF OCA country Operations and regularly collaborate with their colleagues in the Operational Communications Team, as well as with colleagues working with MSF across the globe.

The work of the Humanitarian Affairs Advisor will include both direct support to country teams and thematic work. The portfolio of countries to cover by advisors is likely to change over time, depending on agreed priorities and on the needs of the department itself.

Main objective(s)

In this position you will be promoting strategic humanitarian responses guided by a critical understanding of MSF’s positioning within the given context. Developing and supporting operations with implementing the witnessing, protection and advocacy components of MSF’s work is what you will be working on. Along the way you will come along key humanitarian challenges that MSF is facing:

The levels of need for medical humanitarian assistance remain vast in many regions of the world, yet it is increasingly challenging to fulfil MSF’s social mission. Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and the Central African Republic are a few of the places where violence, abuse and neglect lead to human crises. Entire populations are threatened by outbreaks of disease, responses to which continue to be inadequate.

Factors such as global pandemics, urbanization and global migration may bring new types of health needs. At the same time, humanitarian responses must navigate an ever-shifting political landscape. Increasing restrictions to operations set by host states, instrumentalization, criminalisation and delegitimization of humanitarian action and the communities it seeks to support; and the politicisation, militarisation, privatisation and nationalisation of humanitarian assistance all affect the way humanitarian agencies operate and impact on their ability to respond.

Responsibilities and activities

Direct country support

  • Support, coaching and functional (technical) management of Humanitarian Affairs staff in country, supporting and orienting their work;
  • Providing country operations with political and contextual analysis on factors shaping the humanitarian landscape and issues MSF wants to leverage or influence;
  • Working with operational teams in identifying and documenting protection issues affecting the populations we serve, and defining MSF’s strategies to address them;
  • Driving consistent implementation of advocacy strategies;
  • Acting as a ‘sparring partner’ to the Heads of Mission and Operational Managers on protection issues, humanitarian principles and organizational positioning;
  • Advising country teams on the process of the gathering, analysis and synthesis of information/data;
  • Drafting of position papers, briefing documents, and public reports.

Thematic work

  • Identifying and developing key humanitarian themes for MSF, conducting research, writing papers, organising internal and external discussions
  • Sharing MSF thinking and analysis through attending debates, workshops and conferences, writing articles and making presentations
  • Developing and maintaining relevant networks, bringing cutting edge thinking into the organisation


  • The Humanitarian Affairs Advisor is also responsible for developing and delivering training modules for country teams and headquarters staff on humanitarian affairs, aimed at strengthening MSF’s humanitarian work.

Legal Expertise

  • We are looking for a strong legal profile to contribute to MSF legal analysis and advocacy with regard to the respect of patients and populations in need and the safeguard of international humanitarian space, law and principles in the context of MSF operations. The Legal specialist will act as focal point for MSF OCA with the MSF International Legal Department on these issues.

The position is based at headquarters in Amsterdam with travel to the field of up to 30% of the time.

Candidate Profile

We are looking for someone with:

  • Substantial experience (6-8 years) with international organisations in the field of humanitarian action, protection or human rights; at least 3-5 years in country experience in the types of contexts where MSF is active (in country experience with MSF is an advantage);
  • Extensive knowledge and understanding of recent developments in the field of humanitarian action, protection and international relations;
  • Education diploma in Law Studies is mandatory, additional Master’s degree in humanitarian sector (development, IHL, etc.) is a strong advantage
  • Academic background in areas relevant to MSF’s work, such as international relations, international human rights & humanitarian law and social sciences;
  • Judicial experience as an attorney in a (inter)national bar association is an advantage
  • Experience in the legal sector within International Organizations (UN, ICRC, etc.) is an advantage
  • Strong analytical and advisory skills and the ability to translate complex analysis into concise, clear, and actionable conclusions and recommendations;
  • Ability to travel to humanitarian contexts for periods of up to 4 weeks;
  • Proven excellence in written English and a track record writing reports, position papers or briefing notes; excellence in written French an advantage.
  • Excellent verbal communication and training skills;
  • Fluency in English required; and fluency or working knowledge of French, Italian, Spanish or Arabic is a strong advantage;
  • Regional expertise and/or understanding of geo-political factors influencing contexts where MSF is operational will be considered assets, as will an understanding of public health issues.

Who is:

  • Outgoing, persuasive, persistent, ability to organize and drive initiatives involving different stakeholders (public health advisors, operations, communications advisors, etc.);
  • An independent self-starter

Who has:

  • Sense of humor, good team-player, flexible, ability to work independently and maturity to cope with setbacks;
  • Affinity with the principles and objectives of MSF’s work.


  • Strategic vision/thinking
  • Analytical thinking/Results and Quality orientation
  • Coaching/Training/Advising
  • Networking and relationship building
  • Flexible behaviour
  • Commitment to MSF principles

We offer

  • A Dutch employment contract for one year with a fulltime appointment with the option for renewal based on satisfactory performance, preferably based in Amsterdam;
  • A gross monthly salary in scale 7 with a current salary range between € 3,397 and € 4,851 a month) depending on relevant work experience, based on a fulltime appointment if based in Amsterdam;
  • A stimulating, professional working environment in an international organisation;
  • Other benefits include 30 holidays and a premium free pension.

Remote working is possible, CET time zone preferred (you might be requested to relocate to The Netherlands). If you are located somewhere else, we can only contract in another country where we have an MSF office. The local contract and salary grid will then apply.

How to apply


If you recognise yourself in this profile, we welcome you to apply directly via our website and upload in one combined document:

  • Letter of motivation and updated Curriculum Vitae in English;
  • One sample of writing written exclusively by you (public report, published article, or similar).
  • Your answers to the three questions below;

These questions are formulated to help reviewers understand how you think, analyse, prioritize, and formulate conclusions. We are interested in your views and how you explain them.

  1. MSF is providing assistance in an area controlled by a non-state armed group. MSF has been accused by the government of the country of therefore supporting this group. How would you respond to this allegation using MSF principles and what type of legal analysis would you provide? [250 words]
  2. There is an influx of refugees due to violence and they have been living in a camp on the border for several months. Recently women are delivering babies born out of sexual violence during the attacks that caused the refugees to flee. The newly born babies are found deserted in trenches in the camp and brought to the MSF hospital. Some women deliver in the MSF hospital and disappear after their delivery, leaving their babies behind in the hospital. What is MSFs role? What actions would you advise to the country management team? What legal principles and/or frameworks might be relevant in this situation? How might they support any advocacy objectives? [max 250 words]
  3. What do you think are the two key dilemmas for humanitarian action today? Justify your choices. [max 200 words]

The closing date for applications is 5 December 2021 23.59 CET.

Selection will be by means one or two interviewing rounds. The first round will take place in the week of 13 December 2021. A test/case may be part of the process.

Please note that only candidates that fully meet the requirements of the position and provided answers to the questions will be taken into consideration.


For more information about the recruitment procedure, please contact Irene Tellekamp.

For more information about the position, please contact Gina Bark.

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