Deputy Director, United Nations

Human Rights Watch
  • Location
    Geneva, Switzerland
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Nov 05

Position description

Deputy Director, United Nations
Advocacy Department
Geneva Office
Application Deadline: November 22, 2020

Organization Overview

Human Rights Watch (HRW) advances human rights worldwide. We investigate wrongs, expose the facts, offer solutions, and challenge those with power to respect rights. We collaborate with people claiming their rights, learn from partners, and engage the public. Human Rights Watch upholds the freedoms and defends the protections that promote dignity, equality, and justice.

Our 500 staff based in more than 50 countries conduct research into human rights abuses, publicize our findings, and advocate for change; we raise money to sustain our work, ensure our security, and manage a complex operations environment.

That 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.

Our guiding principles include independence, accurate and fair fact-finding, an impact orientation, and engagement with partners. Our core internal values include transparency, diversity and inclusion, learning and trust, safety and resilience, and accountability.

Position Overview

HRW is seeking applicants for the position of Deputy Director, United Nations to represent HRW at the UN and on UN-related issues in Geneva. Serving as a key advocacy strategist, the Deputy Director, United Nations works alongside the Geneva Director to ensure the highest standards of quality and efficacy for HRW’s diverse advocacy efforts and help transform HRW’s research into concrete improvements in human rights practices. The successful candidate will be an effective leader, strategic thinker and compelling communicator. The position is based in our Geneva office and reports to the Geneva 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 our Geneva office fully re-opens. 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. Represent Human Rights Watch at the United Nations in Geneva and advocate for HRW at the UN and on UN-related issues in Geneva;
2. Design and implement advocacy strategies to advance HRW’s work through Geneva-based international human rights bodies, including the UN Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review and special procedures, UN agencies, and treaty bodies;
3. Provide timely information on developments and negotiations at the UN and collaborate with HRW staff to identify and create opportunities that support their advocacy efforts involving the UN in Geneva;
4. Meet regularly with UN officials and diplomats from member states, and build and maintain networks across key policy targets, including UN member states, the Secretariat and UN agencies;  
5. Act as a spokesperson, and proactively engage the Geneva-based press corps, and broader media, on UN-related issues;
6. Work with non-governmental organizations on collaborative advocacy efforts;
7. Present HRW’s research and recommendations in public fora and represent HRW at events and meetings relating to our work;  
8. Prepare a range of materials, policy analyses, advocacy and public documents targeting policy-makers and broader audiences, including through social media;
9. Oversee recruitment of, and supervise, advocacy interns in HRW’s Geneva office;
10. Work with HRW’s development staff as needed to support HRW’s fundraising efforts in Switzerland;
11. Undertake other responsibilities as required.


1. Deliver outputs in a timely manner while maintaining consistency with the agreed strategy and priorities of the Advocacy Department.
2. Operate in compliance with organizational regulations and rules, including the policies of applicable employee agreements.
3. Establish clear work plans for staff and communicate priorities clearly and effectively. Provide oversight and take responsibility for delegated assignments.
4. Contribute to putting in place systems, processes, and policies to ensure the efficient functioning of the team and its ability to deliver timely outputs.
5. Ensure that the workload of the staff is manageable and the reporting lines are clear;  
6. Manage and guide staff by listening, having two-way communication, sharing pertinent information, responding appropriately and delegating appropriate responsibilities.  
7. Provide appropriate and timely feedback on staff performance and provide guidance, coaching and training, as necessary.

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

How to Apply: Please apply immediately by visiting our online job portal at and attaching a letter of motivation and CV, preferably as PDF files. 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 [email protected] Due to the large response, application submissions via email will not be accepted and inquiries regarding the status of applications will go unanswered.

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.



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 NGO or UN sectors. 

Education: An advanced (graduate) degree in international relations, journalism, law, social science, or a related field is required. Equivalent work experience will also be taken into consideration.

Experience:  Minimum of five (5) to seven (7) years of relevant international experience and substantial knowledge of the United Nations, including an understanding of its principal institutions and its work relating to human rights is required. 

Required Skills and Knowledge:  
1. Detailed knowledge of political dynamics and decision-making processes at the UN. 
2. Direct experience working with or at the United Nations.
3. Excellent public speaking and writing skills in English; knowledge of additional UN languages is an asset. 
4. Demonstrated ability to think strategically and solid understanding of how to implement successful advocacy for policy change. 
5. Ability to defend and explain complex issues and positions to UN officials, diplomats, and the media. 
6. Experience and ability to engage with diplomats, UN officials and NGOs across a range of regional, cultural and ideological perspectives.
7. Experience speaking with the media and cultivating relationships with journalists.
8. Strong interpersonal skills to work collaboratively within HRW as well as with others.
9. Ability to think creatively, initiate projects, and follow through on plans.
10. Capacity to appropriately plan, prioritize and manage multiple, often competing demands efficiently in a challenging, fast-paced environment. 
11. A demonstrated commitment to human rights.