United Kingdom Director

  • Added Date: Friday, 07 February 2020
  • Deadline Date: Monday, 16 March 2020

United Kingdom Director
Advocacy and Media Departments
(London Office)
Application Deadline: 16 March 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
The UK office has been a vital player in Human Rights Watch’s efforts to encourage influential governments to defend and promote human rights in foreign policy, at the United Nations, within the European Union, and at home.

For the post-Brexit landscape, we are seeking an effective leader, strategic thinker and compelling communicator to lead Human Rights Watch’s advocacy and media in the UK and expand our nascent efforts in the Republic of Ireland and other jurisdictions where appropriate.

The successful candidate will function as the key advocate and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch in the UK and other jurisdictions as appropriate, acting as our link to policy- and decision-makers and the media on our global portfolio of issues, as well as on domestic human rights concerns. They will also oversee our London office and build a culture in which staff from a broad range of backgrounds can thrive.

The UK Director will have a solid understanding of the current human rights landscape domestically and overseas, a strong track record of engaging with policy circles and the wider public, a sophisticated grasp of the media landscape and be a compelling public speaker.

This position is based in London and reports to the Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy and to the Deputy Executive Director for Media (based in Paris and New York, respectively).


  1. Lead HRW’s advocacy in the UK and work with HRW colleagues to develop and implement advocacy strategies on the full range of countries and issues addressed by HRW, including domestic issues in post-Brexit UK;
  2. Lead HRW’s efforts to leverage the media and pressure decision-makers to promote and uphold human rights, developing strategies and cultivating contacts to ensure HRW is as influential as possible, and deploying diverse and innovative storytelling skills to promote human rights values to the broader public;
  3. Promote the work of HRW to influence decisionmakers in the UK, Ireland, and elsewhere, building access to and staying in regular contact with key policymakers and departments, testifying in parliamentary hearings, working with MPs to ask parliamentary questions of ministers, speaking at public events and seminars, influencing think tanks and other policy/advisory bodies, and otherwise leveraging the UK government to be a more consistent actor for human rights worldwide;
  4. Strategize on promoting HRW’s work effectively to traditional and social media in the UK and other jurisdictions, building relevant relationships and partnerships with journalists and media outlets, telling compelling stories, crafting succinct soundbites and messages, and writing and speaking on human rights issues;
  5. Coordinate closely with HRW advocates around the globe and at the UN (based in New York and Geneva), as well as the Advocacy and Media teams around the globe;
  6. Help HRW colleagues understand how and when to seize press and advocacy opportunities in the UK, both on global and domestic issues;
  7. Working in partnership with the UK Development Director to build relationships with donors and financial prospects by representing HRW – sharing research, advocacy and impact – in an authentic and inspiring way.
  8. Contribute to internal HRW policies and strategic debates;
  9. Work closely with local human rights organizations to ensure effective coordination, and engage in joint actions when needed;
  10. Provide leadership of the London Office, working in collaboration with Operations colleagues to build and maintain a strong values-driven culture in which staff can thrive and one which promotes staff resilience and wellbeing. Acting as HRW representative with regards the UK branch entity, liaising on security issues, and other leadership duties as needed; and
  11. Perform other responsibilities, as required.


Education: A graduate degree, or equivalent work experience, in international relations, journalism, law, social sciences or a related field is required.

Experience: A minimum of seven years of relevant international experience and extensive experience in human rights and/or advocacy/media are required.

Required Skills and Knowledge:

  1. Excellent and proven knowledge of the political, media, and NGO scenes in the UK in particular is required.
  2. Fluency in English is required, with excellent public speaking skills. Proven track record of an ability to inspire, communicate with and connect to different audiences.
  3. Passion for and exposure to human rights issues is required. Ability to follow numerous human rights issues in a rigorous and nuanced manner is required.
  4. Ability to identify advocacy opportunities and help develop and implement advocacy strategies is required. Demonstrated ability to think strategically and solid understanding of how to implement successful advocacy for policy change are required.
  5. Ability to think strategically about the media environment and experience speaking with the media and cultivating relationships with journalists are required. Knowledge of traditional and social media is required as is the ability to write opinion and news pieces as well as official letters.
  6. An understanding of, and willingness to use, public opinion research and social media data to effectively develop strategies that build popular support for human rights values, and our policy advocacy.
  7. Strong initiative and follow-through, ability to shift priorities according to international news developments and ability to work well under pressure are required.
  8. Strong interpersonal skills, in order to work collaboratively with HRW staff in multiple locations globally and with the UK committee members and supporters, are required.
  9. Experience working with other NGOs on joint advocacy strategies is preferred.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits. HRW will pay reasonable relocation expenses 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 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.

This vacancy is archived.

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