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Human Rights Defenders Fellowship
Thursday, 11 April 2013 09:07


In 2013, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) established the Human Rights Defenders Fellowship program to provide a position at ISHR to one outstanding recent law school graduate each year. The ISHR Human Rights Defenders Fellowship provides invaluable training and experience for a recent graduate preparing for a career in international human rights.


Through a combination of research and analysis, advocacy, capacity building, and media work, the Fellow will work closely with the ISHR Director and program staff, contributing to our work supporting human rights defenders, strengthening human rights systems, building and leading human rights coalitions, and responding to significant and systemic situations of concern.


The Fellowship is a 12-month position beginning in September 2013. The Fellow will be based in Geneva with the possibility of part of the Fellowship conducted in New York (contingent in part on authorization to work in the US). Some international travel may be required depending on the project(s) and role assigned to the Fellow.



The ideal candidate will have:

  • A demonstrated commitment to international human rights;
  • Knowledge of international human rights law;
  • Familiarity with international and regional human rights mechanisms and practice;
  • Interpersonal skills and ability to sensitively engage with a wide range of individuals, including NGO colleagues, defenders, UN and government officials;
  • Strong drafting and research skills;
  • Ability to work independently and collaborate with a team;
  • An ability to master new, complex issues under tight deadlines;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills; and
  • Fluency in English [additional language proficiencies are a plus].


The ideal candidate will also have demonstrable knowledge of or experience in one or more of ISHR’s current programme objectives:

  • Defenders at risk of reprisal
  • Women human rights defenders and those working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues
  • Defenders in transitional democracies
  • Defenders working on issues of corporate accountability


A law degree is required. We encourage 2013 graduates to apply, but will also accept applications from 2012 and 2011 graduates.



This is an unpaid fellowship and interested applicants must pursue third-party sponsorship. The fellowship is not intended to be a volunteer position. Applicants should indicate whether they have secured funding or how they intend to. ISHR will provide any necessary documents that may facilitate funding opportunities.


Application Instructions

Candidates must submit the following materials to Madeleine Sinclair at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , subject line “ISHR Human Rights Defenders Fellowship”:

  1. Cover letter or statement of interest;
  2. Resume;
  3. Two unedited writing samples; and
  4. Names and contact information for three references.


Application Deadline: 10 May 2013. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis thereafter.


About ISHR

Established in 1984, ISHR works to promote and protect human rights around the world. We do this by supporting human rights defenders, strengthening human rights systems, and leading coalitions for human rights change. 

ISHR’s current programme objectives include: defenders at risk of reprisal; women human rights defenders and those working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues; defenders in transitional democracies; and defenders working on issues of corporate accountability.


Download the vacancy announcement here.


Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2013 13:13
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2018