Call for Applications: Africa Program Officer


January 29, 2020

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights seeks a Program Officer in the International Advocacy & Litigation program to coordinate and execute the organization’s work throughout North and sub-Saharan Africa partnering with human rights defenders to protect civic space through advocacy, strategic litigation, and technical assistance.

International Advocacy & Litigation Program:

Our team of lawyers and issue experts collaborate with partners around the world to create lasting legal change. Through legal advocacy, we have freed political prisoners, defended the rule of law in autocratic regimes and amplified the voices of human rights defenders in the United States and abroad. We present the annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, which recognizes a courageous individual whose activism reflects Robert Kennedy’s belief that every individual can make a difference. The award’s recipients enter multi-year partnerships with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, anchoring our advocacy work and strengthening the activists’ ability to make gentler the life of the world.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Developing and implementing an advocacy and litigation agenda for the protection of civic space in Africa in support of local human rights defenders and movements;
  • Day to day management of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ current docket of 6-10 strategic litigation cases before African and universal human rights bodies, including managing client, partner, and co-counsel relationships; fact-finding and building an evidentiary basis for litigation; drafting briefs and legal submissions; leading oral arguments; monitoring implementation of decisions;
  • Managing current and establishing new relationships with advocacy and litigation partners and other human rights defenders in Africa to ensure Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights efforts support their vision and goals;
  • Writing and publicizing reports, briefing papers, letters, news releases, op-eds, and submissions to regional and international bodies, as well as presenting human rights concerns and other advocacy before government officials, opinion leaders, inter-governmental agencies, and in the media;
  • Liaising effectively with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights staff and affiliates located in multiple locations throughout the world to ensure effective coordination and collaboration; support other staff and affiliates to address civic space or Africa-related issues in their work;
  • Supervising and mentoring incoming legal fellows and interns;
  • Assisting with the organization’s fundraising efforts;
  • Traveling domestically and internationally up to one or two weeks at a time, several times a year;
  • Working flexible hours as needed to accommodate developing and urgent events;
  • Do your part in keeping our operations running smoothly - tracking your hours and submitting timecards in a timely manner; and
  • Carrying out any other duties as required.


  • Education: J.D. or foreign equivalent required;
  • Experience: A minimum of 5 years experience in human rights advocacy and litigation;
  • Authorization to work in the United States required;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English required; additional oral and written communication skills in French are desired; skills in other official African Union languages are a plus;
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team to develop and implement realistic and effective local and international advocacy strategies and tactics in order to identify and seize advocacy opportunities;
  • Strong initiative and follow-through, the capacity to think creatively and strategically to identify opportunities for increased impact beyond assigned tasks;
  • Ability to produce high-quality written material under tight deadlines;
  • Excellent editing skills;
  • Dynamic public speaking ability;
  • Strong interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively across cultural dynamics within Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights as well as with clients, local partners, government officials, and media partners;
  • Inclusive: you are excited to work with colleagues with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives from your own.

Preferred but not required qualifications:

  • Professional ties and/or experience in the Africa region or member state of the African Union;
  • Human rights litigation experience before domestic courts and/or regional or universal human rights bodies;
  • Knowledge of and experience working in international human rights and familiarity with international human rights law;
  • Advocacy experience, e.g. leveraging US foreign policy, intergovernmental bodies, and/or public-facing campaigns;
  • Current license to practice law in a member state of the African Union;
  • 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;
  • Solid field research and documentation skills.

Benefits and other Perks:

  • Medical & Dental, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights covers 100% of individual only medical and dental costs;
  • 401(k), automatic contribution of 7% of your salary after your first anniversary;
  • College Saveup/Loan PayDown, automatic $100/monthly contribution for any current loans or future loans;
  • Cell Phone stipend, monthly reimbursement to offset any cell phone expenses;
  • Telecommuting, flexibility to work from home occasionally
  • Other fun perks include but are not limited to staff retreats, galas, and award ceremonies (in the United States and occasionally internationally)

More info on the call and How to Apply can be accessed here. You are welcomed here...

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and believes we are stronger and more effective by working internally and externally with people of all abilities, diverse backgrounds, and a range of perspectives, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or underrepresented. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. We do not discriminate in our hiring practices and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seek a diverse applicant pool.