Research Fellow on Children and Armed Conflict


Established in 2001, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (‘Watchlist’) is an international network of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) striving to end violations against children during armed conflicts and to guarantee their rights. Working together, we collect and disseminate information on violations against children in conflicts in order to influence key decision-makers to create and implement programs and policies that effectively protect children.

Watchlist is a fiscally sponsored project of United Charitable, a US-based 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. An Advisory Board comprised of leading international human rights and humanitarian NGOs provides general supervision, and Watchlist’s Associate Members frequently collaborate on advocacy initiatives.


In situations of armed conflict, humanitarian access is essential to protecting the rights and safety of civilians, including children, as enshrined by international humanitarian law. Yet, in armed conflicts around the world, the denial of humanitarian access has become increasingly prevalent. In recent years, the denial of humanitarian access for children has become among the most prevalent grave violations against children documented by the United Nations, with over 4,100 incidents in 2020 alone.

The denial of humanitarian access can have a devastating effect on children and can take many forms, including high levels of insecurity resulting from active fighting and military operations; direct attacks on humanitarian personnel, supplies, and facilities; the actual denial of medical aid, food, education, and essential supplies into areas with humanitarian emergencies; bureaucratic restrictions by governments, such as the denial of entry visas for humanitarian personnel and supplies; logistical impediments, such as the lack of transportation infrastructure; and diversion of aid to armed groups. Not all constraints on access are deliberate or constitute violations of international law, but all have an impact on the survival of children caught in humanitarian crises.

Watchlist, in collaboration with Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), is seeking a highly motivated Research Fellow on Children and Armed Conflict (‘Research Fellow’) to undertake a research project on the impact of the denial of humanitarian access on children. The research will result in a joint policy paper, which will include policy and operational recommendations, to be published in April 2022, disseminated among international policy audiences in New York, and made available online through IIHA and Watchlist’s websites and networks.

The research and policy paper are part of a joint project between Watchlist, IIHA, and Save the Children, and will build upon Watchlist’s previous research on the impact of efforts to counter violent extremism on the rights of children in situations of armed conflict. This work will also help develop IIHA’s new area of research on children in armed conflict/affected by violence which was established in 2020 to identify outstanding research needs and produce policy and advocacy papers to promote the rights of children and support the work of child protection practitioners

Summary of Research Fellow Duties:

Under the direction of the Director of Watchlist Program and the Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow at Fordham’s IIHA, the Research Fellow is responsible for researching and developing a policy paper on the denial of humanitarian access. The Research Fellow will conduct policy research that examines the existing legal framework as it applies to children; the difficulty of monitoring and reporting on this violation in the context of the UN Security Council Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM); political obstacles to humanitarian access for children, in particular counterterrorism measures, donor conditionality clauses, and sanctions; and emerging obstacles to humanitarian access for children, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Research Fellow will be home-based. This position does not include travel to New York or for field research. All research and meetings will be conducted virtually.


This research fellowship will have a duration of one year (mid-August 2021, through August 31, 2022). During that time, there is the possibility of a courtesy appointment as a Research Fellow at Fordham University’s IIHA, for which separate terms of reference would be issued, situating the work of the Research Fellow within IIHA and providing the Research Fellow with a university email address. The policy paper shall be completed and submitted to the Director of Watchlist Program and IIHA’s Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow on or before March 15, 2022, to be published by April 15, 2022. Between April and August 2022, the Research Fellow will conduct research to support IIHA and inform its Humanitarian Studies undergraduate and graduate courses on the impact of armed conflict and violence on children. This may include research to examine the continued efficacy and relevance of the existing international legal framework and international humanitarian response system for protecting children during war.


This fellowship is an exciting opportunity for a mid- to senior-level humanitarian professional with previous experience in children and armed conflict, international human rights advocacy, or international humanitarian law, seeking to gain academic experience and exposure to international-level policy discussions on denial of humanitarian access, and who has strong organizational skills and works well independently. Watchlist will offer a modest consulting fee (approximately $16,000 USD) to the Research Fellow, who may also be offered a courtesy appointment as an unpaid Research Fellow at IIHA. The stipend would be issued through a consultancy contract with Watchlist.


  1. Inception report detailing the understanding of the terms of reference and a proposed methodology, data collection plan and intended instruments, and work plan indicating clear milestones and timelines by September 15, 2021.

  2. Completion of the first draft by January 31, 2022.

  3. Final review of draft to be completed by February 28, 2022.

  4. Completion of the final draft (approximately 20-30 pages in length, including a two-page executive summary of findings and recommendations) by March 15, 2022.

  5. Publication of policy paper by April 15, 2022.

  6. Research to inform IIHA courses and programming, TBD.


  • Advanced degree (Master’s or equivalent) in law, political science, social science, international relations, or other relevant discipline.
  • At least 7 years of experience in policy-oriented research and/or direct policy development on children and armed conflict and/or on international humanitarian law with a focus on denial of humanitarian access, demonstrated by a track record of influential publications and/or delivery of major policy initiatives.
  • Knowledge of the UN system, international human rights and humanitarian law, and child rights issues.
  • Excellent writing and analytical skills.
  • Proven ability to work independently and manage tight deadlines.
  • Fluency in English, both oral and written.

Terms and Conditions:

Terms and conditions will be set in the consultancy contract. The research fellow will also be required to sign and adhere to Watchlist’s Child Safeguarding Policy and Code of Conduct, as well as Fordham University’s Code of Conduct. Failure to adhere to these policies can result in immediate termination.

How to apply

Interested applicants are invited to send their cover letter, CV, and 10-page (maximum) writing sample via email, with the subject line “[Your name] – Research Fellow,” to Adrianne Lapar, director of Watchlist, at [email protected]

The deadline to apply is August 10, 2021. No phone calls please. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Interviews will be held the week of August 16, 2021 (dates to be determined).

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