Senior Researcher, Crisis and Conflict

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Senior Researcher
Crisis and Conflict Division
Multiple Locations Considered
Application Deadline: May 22, 2022

Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) is seeking applicants for the position of Senior Researcher in the Crisis and Conflict Division. The Senior Researcher should have deep expertise and experience working on human rights crises and documenting laws of war violations during situations of armed conflict. This should include an understanding of the impact of conflict and crisis situations on women, children, older people, people with disabilities, and others at particular risk.

Responsibilities include research, often in high-risk environments, writing and multimedia work with short deadlines, advocacy with governments, armed groups, companies and others, international media work to defend the human rights of people caught in armed conflict and political and security crises, collaborating with partner organizations and colleagues across the organization, and managing projects and consultants.

The Senior Researcher should be prepared to spend extensive periods conducting research in dynamic and sometimes insecure situations. A knowledge of international humanitarian law and human rights law is essential, as is an understanding of how to conduct safe and effective human rights research both in person and remotely, including through open-source investigations. Experience in complex security environments is key, as is an ability to manage issues of stress and resilience.

This is a full-time position that reports to the Director of the Crisis and Conflict Division. The position will preferably be based in one of HRW’s major offices.

Due to COVID-19, many of our global offices are operating in reduced capacities. The successful candidate may be required to work remotely as local mandates necessitate. 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.

Essential Responsibilities:

  1. Research and document human rights abuses by collecting and analyzing information from a wide variety of sources, including through interviews with victims and witnesses and the analysis of physical evidence or photographs and videos of weapons used and their impact, as well as by monitoring reports from and speaking with government officials, local media, healthcare workers, NGOs, journalists, diplomats, security forces, and others;
  2. Write and publicize reports, briefing papers, letters, news releases, op-eds, and submissions to international bodies based on research findings, including through an active social media presence;
  3. Collaborate with colleagues in the multimedia team to produce videos and other visual materials that convey research findings and advocacy messages;
  4. Assist in the development and implementation of local, regional, and international strategies to change abusive laws, policies, and practices and to hold those most responsible for serious abuses to account;
  5. Respond promptly to queries from the media, public, and colleagues in the human rights community;
  6. Identify and highlight key political and human rights trends and emerging issues, and analyze abuses within the broader political, social, and economic context to highlight factors contributing to abuses and avenues for effective change;
  7. Project Human Rights Watch’s concerns into public debates and to generate tangible pressure on human rights abusers and to find innovative approaches in light of the obstacles and resources available;
  8. Respond to and/or anticipate news events in order to press human rights issues; to assess when and where to make public interventions such as op-eds; and think creatively about using the web and social media to generate public support for human rights issues and further advocacy goals;
  9. Contribute to internal HRW policy debates on issues relevant to their expertise and areas of focus;
  10. Oversee the work of consultants, participate in security meetings, and edit reports and other material by other researchers and assist and advise them on missions;
  11. Enhance the organization’s capacity to respond to crises by providing training and advice on operating in conflict environments and related planning and policy development;
  12. Assist the director of the division and HRW’s Development Department with fundraising;
  13. Work closely with colleague NGOs and local human rights organizations to ensure that HRW’s work complements and enhances their work;
  14. Deliver outputs in a timely manner and maintain consistency with the agreed strategy and priorities of the division and organization; and
  15. Carry out any other duties as required.

Managerial Responsibilities:

  1. Establish clear work plans for other staff, consultants, or interns working on a project led by the senior researcher and ensure that their workload is manageable, and that priorities are clearly and effectively communicated. Take responsibility for assignments delegated to others.
  2. Provide appropriate and timely feedback, guidance, and training as necessary to staff and consultants. Manage and guide them by listening, having two-way communication, sharing pertinent information, responding appropriately, and delegating appropriate responsibilities.
  3. Ensure the proper training, guidance, and support on matters related to security and dealing with issues of stress and resilience.

Candidate Profile:

The successful candidate will be a collaborative, strategic, and flexible researcher, writer, advocate, and public spokesperson who is ready and willing to deploy to areas affected by armed conflicts, political unrest, and other human rights crises, sometimes on short notice. The candidate should have experience documenting laws of war violations during armed conflicts and/or the use of excessive force during situations of political unrest, as well as expertise in identifying the types of weapons used in such situations. The successful candidate should be willing to work in a fast-paced, multicultural environment. Candidates who speak Russian, with experience in eastern Europe and Central Asia, as well as candidates with experience working in Africa are strongly encouraged to apply.


Education: An advanced (graduate) degree or an equivalent level of experience in international relations, journalism, law, or social sciences is required.

Experience: Minimum seven years of relevant experience in research and documentation are required. Candidates should be recognized as an expert in their field who is consulted by policymakers, journalists, academics, activists, and others interested in the country or theme they cover.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

  1. Proven track record of working in dynamic situations, including ability to conduct interviews with victims, witnesses, officials, and a wide range of other people is required.
  2. Ability to think strategically in dynamic situations to develop and implement realistic and effective local and international advocacy and media strategies is required.
  3. Ability to identify, research, analyze, and effectively communicate important human rights developments in the area of crisis and conflict work is required.
  4. Ability to efficiently distil information about crisis and conflict work so as to focus time and effort on issues of greatest importance or issues that are most capable of being influenced is required.
  5. Ability to write and edit accurate, persuasive, well-organized, analytical, and timely reports and press releases is required.
  6. Strong knowledge of international human rights and humanitarian law is required.
  7. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English, including public speaking skills, are required. Proficiency in at least one language relevant to the research position is highly desirable, such as Russian, French, Arabic, or Spanish.
  8. Experience managing physical and digital security in dynamic and at times dangerous environments is required.
  9. Ability to multi-task effectively, including having good planning and organizing skills and ability to work under pressure are required.
  10. Ability to manage issues related to stress and resilience in a challenging and fast-paced job is required.
  11. Experience working with colleagues, staff, vendors, and partners from diverse backgrounds in a positive, collaborative, and inclusive team environment is required.
  12. Strong interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively within HRW as well as with local partners, government officials, media, and other external partners is required.
  13. Experience working with innovative technologies to document human rights violations, such as remote sensing and the use of open-source techniques, is highly desirable.
  14. Experience and relevant training to identify the types of weapons used and their impact during situations of armed conflict and political unrest is highly desirable.
  15. A successful track record in fundraising is desirable.

Other: This role requires regular domestic/international travel, sometimes with short notice, to conduct research missions, including in conflict areas. Candidates must be prepared and willing to work flexible hours to accommodate developing and urgent events as needed.

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; 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 May 22, 2022 by visiting our online job portal at and attaching a letter of interest, resume or 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, or if you require a disability-related accommodation to submit your application, 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.

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