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Director, Crisis and Conflict


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Organization: Human Rights Watch
Closing date: 24 Oct 2021

Crisis and Conflict Division
Multiple Locations Considered
Application Deadline: Open Until Filled

Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) is seeking a skilled professional to lead its Crisis and Conflict division, which covers armed conflicts and human rights emergencies, both acute and protracted.

The Director should be a strategic leader with deep experience working in complex human rights environments. They will set the division’s priorities, manage experienced staff, and help lead HRW’s work in crisis response. Key responsibilities include developing and overseeing effective research, advocacy, and communications strategies, supervising staff in high-risk situations, and ensuring that HRW responds to crises in timely and effective ways.

The Director will have a public-facing role for HRW’s conflict and crisis work with government officials, international policy makers, the media, partner organizations, and donors. They will stand publicly with survivors of atrocities and human rights defenders, amplifying their voices and working in partnerships to achieve strategic goals.

The Director should have proven experience in the human rights dimensions of armed conflict and crises, including the laws of war, terrorism and counterterrorism, and the impact of crises on women, children, older people, people with disabilities, displaced people, and minorities. They should know how to use technological tools for safe and effective human rights research, such as remote sensing and open-source techniques, and understand the risks to human rights that new technologies can pose in conflict settings.

The Director should be a thoughtful and effective manager who understands security protocols and can support staff working in high-stress environments. They should have experience in fundraising to maintain and expand the division’s work.

This position is based in one of Human Rights Watch’s major offices and reports to a Deputy Program Director.
Due to Covid-19, many of our global offices are currently closed or operating in reduced capacities. The successful candidate may be required to work remotely until offices fully re-open. 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.

Essential Responsibilities:

  1. Oversee research and advocacy of the division, setting strategic priorities, collaborating with other parts of the organization, developing and running projects;
  2. Help lead conflict and crisis project management across HRW’s programmatic divisions and other departments;
  3. Manage a team of motivated and experienced researchers and advocates, plus one associate for administrative support;
  4. Help define a strategy for HRW’s response to armed conflict and crises that includes the impact of crises on vulnerable groups;
  5. Help guide and incubate the use of technological tools for human rights research;
  6. Be sensitive to the physical, psychological and digital risks of working in emergency settings to support HRW’s staff, partners and interlocutors;
  7. Work creatively with the Media department to project a human rights perspective into coverage of conflicts and crises;
  8. Influence policy debates by providing press quotes, writing press releases, op-eds, and blog postings, and using social media;
  9. Represent the organization before national and international media;
  10. Advocate with governments, armed groups, companies, and international organizations;
  11. Take responsibility for their own security and that of those around them by adhering to security protocols, making informed and responsible decisions, and being a co-creator in the systems, processes and training that strengthen the security of HRW personnel.
  12. Work with the Development department on fundraising by drafting reports to donors, promoting the work of HRW, and soliciting support from potential new sources;
  13. Communicate regularly with the Deputy Program Director and other HRW senior managers to ensure the division’s policies and objectives are aligned with the organizational priorities;
  14. Travel on a frequent basis, when conditions allow, and work flexible hours to accommodate developing and urgent events, as required; and
  15. Perform other tasks as required.

Managerial Responsibilities

  1. Manage the division’s output and staff with the aim of maintaining and promoting unity, sense of purpose, and staff wellbeing within the division;
  2. Manage the division’s budget, in cooperation with the Finance department, to ensure adequate, efficient and timely oversight of resources;
  3. Establish clear work plans for staff, communicate priorities clearly and effectively, and provide oversight and take responsibility for delegated assignments;
  4. Ensure that the workload of staff is manageable and reporting lines are clear;
  5. Provide appropriate and timely feedback on staff performance and leadership on employee relations through effective communication, conflict mediation, guidance, coaching, and training, including with staff in supervisory positions;
  6. Work with HRW’s security team to promote the physical and digital security of our staff, partners and interlocutors; ensure that staff receive appropriate training in security policies and procedures; hold staff accountable for effectively implementing relevant policies and procedures; and set an example for a strong and inclusive security culture within the organization;
  7. Participate in trainings provided by HRW and other organizations, including on security, management, and stress and resilience; and
  8. Operate in compliance with HRW’s regulations and rules, including the policies of applicable employee agreements.


Education: An advanced (graduate) degree in journalism, law, social science, or related studies or equivalent experience is desired but not essential.

Experience: A minimum of 10 years of experience in international human rights issues, with at least 4 years in a management position is required.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

  1. Excellent leadership skills and recognized management experience are required, including supervising a team of professionals from diverse backgrounds, empowering staff growth and developing strong and collaborative relationships with colleagues from diverse cultural, geographical, economic, political and social contexts.
  2. Knowledge of and experience with armed conflicts and human rights emergencies.
  3. Ability to coordinate complex projects with multiple stakeholders.
  4. A track record of working with civil society groups, including collaboration with communities facing social, cultural and/or economic exclusion.
  5. Ability to think strategically and creatively and work quickly and effectively under pressure.
  6. Ability to advocate effectively on complex international policy issues.
  7. Experience serving as a spokesperson, working with the media and cultivating relationships with journalists; experience using multimedia and social media for advocacy and outreach.
  8. Ability to effectively plan for and supervise the use of new technological tools for human rights research.
  9. Strong oral and written communication skills in English are required; proficiency in other languages is highly desirable.
  10. Experience working in an international environment with diverse colleagues and partners.
  11. Successful track record in fundraising.
  12. Ability to work collegially in a demanding, diverse and fast-paced environment and strong interpersonal skills to work with partner organizations, government officials, private companies and other interlocutors.

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 do not discriminate in hiring practices and actively seek a diverse applicant pool. We encourage candidates of all abilities, ages, gender identities and expressions, national origins, races and ethnicities, religious beliefs, sexual orientations, and those with criminal records to apply. 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.

How to apply:

How to Apply: Please apply immediately by visiting our online job portal at careers.hrw.org and attaching a letter of interest and a resume or CV. No phone calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your application submission, please email recruitment@hrw.org. Due to the large response, application submissions via email will not be accepted and inquiries regarding the status of applications will go unanswered.

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