Director, Environment and Human Rights At Human Rights Watch

Environment and Human Rights Program
Location: Any Major HRW Office
Application Deadline: August 9, 2021

The Organization

Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) is an international human rights research 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. We’re comprised of over 500 staff in more than 50 countries.

Our mission is as urgent as it has ever been, and it faces complex new challenges. We must contend with the failures of governments to meet their obligations on water, land, education, and food. We must respond to conflict and crisis on an extraordinary scale, and we must confront the persistence of repression around the world. Climate change, the resurgence of authoritarian populism, rapidly advancing technologies, and the effects of deep inequality all compound these threats to rights. Innovation, efficiency, and diversity are critical to our success in meeting these challenges, and to delivering sustained impact.

The Opportunity

The Environment and Human Rights Division (“EHR”), founded in 2017, leads HRW’s work on environmental justice issues. EHR works to end human rights violations related to environmental degradation that marginalized communities face in different nations. As the world further urbanizes and industrializes, and effects of the climate crisis intensify, environmental harms will increasingly devastate the lives, health, and livelihoods of people around the globe.

A lack of adequate and properly enforced legal regulations can lead to host of human rights violations from mining, large-scale dams, deforestation, domestic water and sanitation systems, and heavily polluting industries including fossil fuels. These violations disproportionately impact impoverished and marginalized communities with limited opportunity to meaningfully participate in decision-making and who typically have little access to independent courts to achieve accountability and redress.

Most recently, EHR has documented human rights abuses related to toxics (lead poisoning, air pollution and pesticides), the climate crisis (protection of carbon sinks, impacts of fossil fuels, failure of big emitters to significantly reduce emissions, and exclusion of marginalized communities from adaptation planning) and the protection of environmental defenders. We stand in solidarity with environmental justice groups and Indigenous peoples globally, working in partnership with them to realize key common goals of ending injustice.

As marginalized communities around the world face growing consequences from environmental degradation, pollution, and the climate crisis, HRW is seeking an outstanding professional to lead its Environment and Human Rights Division. Based in five countries, and in different time zones, EHR is a diverse team of seven people of six nationalities with background in environmental science, law, human rights, and journalism.

The position involves three main areas of responsibility:
1) lead HRW’s work on the environment;
2) manage a thriving team within the EHR Division; and
3) play a key role in raising funds to support EHR’s work.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will be a thoughtful, collaborative, and strategic leader with deep knowledge and experience working on a diverse range of human rights issues related to the environment. The Director will be a persuasive advocate in the field of environmental justice, and have an impressive track record of driving change, a deep commitment to coalition building and equitable partnerships, including with Indigenous peoples, and a strategic vision for HRW’s contribution to the global environmental movement.

The successful candidate will be able to champion environmental work throughout the organization and be able to explain technical concepts in plain language. They will clearly understand and be able to communicate across the organization the human rights dimensions of environmental issues.

The Director will be an experienced manager and demonstrate the ability and commitment to foster the safety and resilience of staff, to promote diversity and inclusion, to support sustainability of the organization, to be an effective communicator, to provide appropriate and timely feedback on staff performance, to build consensus with staff around key challenges and new research and advocacy approaches, and to ensure the highest research standards in a culture of learning, trust, teamwork, and collaboration.

The position can be based in any major office of HRW including in Africa, Europe, or the United States. The successful candidate will be able to travel widely, including internationally, an estimated 30 percent of the time (once Covid-19 related restrictions and precautions permit).

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 in the interim. 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 a multi-year program strategy for the EHR division, in collaboration with relevant staff and stakeholders, in the global environmental justice movement;
  2. Oversee research, reporting, and advocacy for the division;
  3. Oversee the publication of analytical and credible reports and other advocacy materials, ensuring such materials generate domestic and international pressure to curb human rights violations related to the environment;
  4. Communicate regularly with HRW senior managers to ensure the division’s policies and objectives are aligned with the organization’s focus; build up internal commitment to and engagement in work on environment and human rights;
  5. Liaise effectively with HRW staff around the world to ensure effective coordination of the work on the environment and human rights across program boundaries to maximize impact;
  6. Respond to and/or anticipate relevant news events or frame developing news stories through a human rights prism, advise senior management on effective responses and advocacy strategies, and project a human rights perspective into coverage of key environmental issues, regionally, nationally, and globally;
  7. Represent the organization before the international media and advocate with high-level officials from governments, multilateral organizations, and other relevant international and regional institutions;
  8. Promote an inclusive and positive work environment including by soliciting diverse points of views, prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion and stress and resilience efforts, and proactively addressing bias, and discrimination;
  9. Monitor well-being of EHR staff as it pertains to stress and resilience and self-care and work collaboratively with EHR staff in addressing the challenges and opportunities they face in their work and the environments where they live;
  10. Work closely with the Development Department on fundraising, providing requested information and draft reports to donors in a timely manner, promoting the work of HRW as a whole, and actively soliciting and following up with potential new donors to achieve program-specific fundraising goals;
  11. Manage the program’s budget, in cooperation with Finance and other departments, to ensure adequate and timely oversight of resources and ensure that resources are allocated to maximize impact;
  12. Support organizational efforts to make HRW an environmentally sustainable organization.
  13. Foresee risks and allow for contingencies when planning; monitor and adjust program plans and actions as necessary; and resolve any disputes or conflicts in a timely manner with appropriate consultation with supervisors and HRW senior managers;
  14. Help develop a strong group of environmental and other groups for partnership and collaboration as well as maintain good working relationships with external partners; and
  15. Perform other duties that may be required.


Education: An advanced degree or equivalent work experience in a field related to environment and human rights, including but not limited to environmental science, public health, international affairs, or a related field.

Experience: A minimum of 1o years of varied experience in environmental justice or other environment focused work at least some of which has a human rights focus including strategic planning and project development, investigations, reporting, and advocacy, and with at least five years in a senior management position, preferably one that involved managing both down and up within an organization or institution. We are eager to hear from candidates who can perform the essential functions of this role even if they do not meet all of our desired qualifications – particularly if they are from backgrounds underrepresented in the environmental field.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

  1. Extensive knowledge of a wide range of environmental issues and their human rights impacts, developed through both education and professional experience.
  2. Advocacy and research experience with government officials and corporate actors on environmental issues; ability to defend and explain complex issues and positions to governments and intergovernmental bodies at the highest level.
  3. Demonstrated ability to develop strategy and operationalize a vision, including developing operational and budgetary plans.
  4. Experience developing legal, policy and grassroots approaches to stop or mitigate current or prospective environment-related violations.
  5. Deep understanding of how environmental issues can impact the rights of women and other marginalized populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, children, older people, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and Indigenous peoples.
  6. Experience with the media and cultivating relationships with journalists and experience using or managing social media.
  7. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are required; working level proficiency in another language is desirable.
  8. Strong interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively within HRW as well as with local partners, government officials and external media partners.
  9. Ability to explain technical scientific/environmental concepts to non-technical audiences from a human rights perspective.
  10. Demonstrable management experience, including supervising a team of talented professionals in multiple global locations from varied disciplines.
  11. Capacity to plan and prioritize appropriately and to manage multiple, sometimes competing demands efficiently in a challenging, fast-paced environment is required.
  12. Relevant international field experience and familiarity with human rights research methodologies is essential; knowledge of innovative or new methodologies in the human rights or environmental field is desirable.
  13. Demonstrated awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and orientations.

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 disability, 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.

How to apply

How to Apply: Please apply immediately or by August 9, 2021 by visiting our online job board at and attaching a cover letter and a resume or CV. No 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 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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