Researcher, Southern Africa

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Africa Division
Johannesburg, South Africa
Application Deadline: 2 June 2022

The Africa Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW) is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Southern Africa Researcher covering Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The Africa Division is part of the Program Department, which consists of 16 regional and thematic divisions. The Africa Division works to advance human rights in 25 African countries and conducts a wide range of activities, including investigation, report writing, advocacy and media work. This position reports to the Executive Director of the Africa Division, based in Abuja, Nigeria, and will ideally be based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Due to COVID-19, many of our global offices are operating in reduced capacities. The successful candidate may be required to initially work remotely as local mandates necessitate. We recognize that this moment, during the pandemic, is a uniquely difficult time for most people, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, and we aim to be as flexible and supportive as possible in both the recruitment for and onboarding of this position.


  1. Develop and implement a research and advocacy agenda that focuses on improving respect for human rights in various Southern African countries, with a special focus on Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi;
  2. 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;
  3. Develop recommendations for rights improvements in the region; devise and implement local, regional, and international advocacy strategies to change abusive laws, policies, and practices;
  4. Respond promptly to queries from the media, the public, and colleagues in the human rights community and take initiative to project concerns in public debate;
  5. Place abuses within the broader political, social, economic and historical contexts and present human rights concerns to government officials, opinion leaders, inter-governmental agencies, and the media;
  6. Work collaboratively with international and national and grassroots civil society organizations to ensure that HRW’s work complements and enhances their own work and actively explore partnership opportunities;
  7. Assist the Africa Division and HRW’s Development and Global Initiatives Department in conducting fundraising;
  8. Liaise and collaborate effectively with HRW staff located around the world to ensure effective coordination and delivery of activities;
  9. Be prepared and willing to work flexible hours to accommodate developing and urgent events;
  10. Travel domestically and overseas, as required, to conduct fact-finding investigations;
  11. Deliver outputs in a timely manner and be consistent with the agreed strategy and priorities of the Africa division and wider Program Department; and
  12. Carry out any other duties as required.


Education: An advanced (graduate) level degree in international relations, journalism, law, history or social sciences or equivalent experience is required.

Experience: A minimum of three years of relevant experience working in human rights research is required.

Required Skills and Knowledge:

  1. Demonstrated ability to identify, research, analyze and effectively communicate important human rights developments in Southern Africa is required.
  2. Demonstrated ability and sensitivity to conduct interviews with a wide range of people, including victims, survivors and witnesses are required.
  3. Knowledge of and experience working in international human rights and familiarity with international and African human rights law is required, particularly as it relates to Southern Africa.
  4. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English, including dynamic public speaking skills and the ability to write accurate, persuasive, well-organized, analytical, and timely documents, are required. Proficiency in at least one language relevant to the Southern Africa research position is highly desirable.
  5. Ability to build and sustain partnerships with human rights, community and regional organizations on shared goals and objectives is required.
  6. Strong interpersonal skills in order to work positively and collaboratively within HRW as well as with local partners, government officials, media, and other external partners from diverse backgrounds environment is required.
  7. 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.
  8. Ability to maintain contacts and meet with officials and experts addressing human rights in Southern Africa and in countries covered by the research.
  9. Ability to multi-task effectively, including having good planning and organizing skills and ability to work under pressure are required.
  10. Ability to make sound decisions consistent with functions is required.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits. HRW offers a relocation assistance package and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; citizens of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

Human Rights Watch is strong because it is diverse. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply. Human Rights Watch does not discriminate on the basis of ability, age, gender identity and expression, national origin, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or criminal record. We welcome all kinds of diversity. Our employees include people who are parents and nonparents, the self-taught and university educated, and from a wide span of socio-economic backgrounds and perspectives on the world. Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer.

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights monitoring and advocacy organization known for its in-depth investigations, its incisive and timely reporting, its innovative and high-profile advocacy campaigns, and its success in changing the human rights-related policies and practices of influential governments and international institutions.

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