Department Open Society Justice Initiative
Location Budapest or New York
Application Deadline April 22, 2017
The Justice Initiative, an operational program of The Open Society Foundations, uses litigation and other forms of legal advocacy to empower people, defend the rule of law, and advance human rights. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, we promote and defend accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, challenge abuses related to national security and counterterrorism initiatives, expand access to and exercise of freedom of information and expression, and confront corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources.
To our activities we bring deep and varied practice of litigation and other forms of legal advocacy, familiarity with legal and related political fora, substantive knowledge of human rights issues, and issue- and place-specific expertise and experience. We collaborate with a community of dedicated and skillful human rights advocates across the globe, and form part of a dynamic and progressive justice movement that reflects the diversity of the world it inhabits. More information on the Justice Initiative and its activities can be found at www.justiceinitiative.org
Legal empowerment is about putting the power of law in people’s hands. Our work in this field is grounded in the belief that societies can only be just, democratic and open, if ordinary people and vulnerable communities can use the law to protect and realize their rights and hold authorities to account. Progressive laws on the books are not enough: people must have knowledge of the law’s basic precepts and be able to find practical solutions to day to day justice problems. Our work aims to improve the ways in which legal resources are deployed in support of community led efforts for social change.
We seek to expand the availability and accessibility, and enhance the effectiveness, of legal empowerment efforts, prioritizing ways that basic legal services can be scaled up in a financially sustainable manner. In this regard together with the broader Open Society Foundations network, we provide direct advice and assistance to governments, civil society and private sector to secure institutionalization of basic legal services, to advance new uses for technology and innovative financing methods and to offer new ways data can be used and quality can be controlled.
We are seeking a Policy Officer to help advance our work in the legal empowerment field with a particular focus on methodologies of deploying combination of tools for strengthening Justice Initiative’s work with community groups and social movements for achieving social change. Based in Budapest or New York, and reporting to the head of the legal empowerment team, the Policy Officer will work with a high degree of autonomy, developing and implementing projects related to legal empowerment in a wide range of countries and thematic issues and globally.
The candidate will have a strong background in political and policy analysis, and an understanding and knowledge of current access to justice policy debates globally and in at least one middle income or low income country. The candidate will be a political and strategic thinker, but also have strong research and analytical skills to seek out the right evidence and information. Practical experience of working with communities, especially those that are particularly disadvantaged, to pursue strategic change through combination of community activism, strategic litigation or other tools is required.
The Policy Officer will work with a high degree of autonomy, developing and implementing projects related to legal empowerment in a wide range of countries.
Essential duties and responsibilities will include:
- developing and implementing the Justice Initiative’s strategic initiatives on legal empowerment;
- providing technical assistance on legal empowerment programming to a range of local actors and help design interventions and community engagement strategies for specific target groups for example youth groups, women, community leaders and people with special needs;
- leading efforts to develop and implement financing models for supporting community based legal empowerment initiatives;
- developing use of technology for legal empowerment;
- identifying research gaps and needs in the legal empowerment field; conducting and overseeing research; and disseminating and promoting research findings to a variety of audiences;
- building and maintaining a strong network of contacts among OSF colleagues, donors, civil society organizations, government officials, regional and international organizations, academics, and journalists interested in the field of legal empowerment, access to justice and justice in development;
- conducting advocacy at national, regional and global levels to advance program goals.
- extensive travel may be required.
- advanced degree or equivalent experience in law, public policy, anthropology, economics or similar fields.
- practical experience of working with communities, especially those that are particularly disadvantaged, to pursue strategic change, is required.
- seven or more years of experience working in legal empowerment, access to justice or access to services and/or access to justice in low- or middle- income countries
- experience in working with innovative financial models or on technology to improve access to services is an added advantage.
- strong background in political and policy analysis, and an understanding and knowledge of current access to justice policy debates globally and in at least one middle income or low income country.
- political and strategic thinker, with similarly strong research and analytical skills to seek out the right evidence and information. Ability to connect with a wide variety of constituencies and colleagues as well as work independently, with a high degree of self-motivation and ability to set and meet goals;
- project management skills, including the ability to exercise effective and inclusive leadership and gather evidence and research to inform strategies and activities;
- English language fluency, with demonstrated ability for effective written and oral advocacy. Additional language competencies a plus.
- Commitment to diversity and a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstances, and ability to work with diverse individuals within the organization and broader community.
Please note, you must include a cover letter as part of your application. Applications without a cover letter will not be reviewed.
Work Environment and Physical Demands:
Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations, and we welcome and actively seek applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.