Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
Legal Fellowship: Host Organisation Solicitation
LEGAL FELLOWSHIP: HOST ORGANISATION SOLICITATION
Minority Rights Group International
September 2020 – September 2021
1. Overview of organisation’s mission and activities
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide, and to promote cooperation and understanding between communities. Our activities are focused on international advocacy (including litigation), training, publishing and outreach. We are guided by the needs expressed by our worldwide partner network of organisations, which represent minority and indigenous peoples.
MRG works with around 130 organisations in over 60 countries. MRG has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and is a civil society organization registered with the Organisation of American States (OAS). MRG is registered as a charity and a company limited by guarantee under English law, registered charity no. 282305, limited company no. 1544957.
2. Specific role and responsibilities during the Fellowship:
MRG’s legal department focuses on strategic litigation on minority rights and indigenous issues, together with holistic advocacy designed to complement the litigation. The Fellow will assist in identifying gaps in the law for selection of new cases and will also assist in research and writing of legal memos in support of existing cases. The Fellow will draft legal pleadings and correspondence in pending cases. The Fellow will be involved in paralegal training, media work, and formal policy and advocacy work. The Fellow will also contribute to the development, planning and backing of funding proposals for new areas of work. Finally, the Fellow will be responsible for undertaking research on emerging standards in international law that relate to minorities and indigenous peoples. The issues we deal with are as diverse as securing rights to land and natural resources in East Africa to ensuring participation in political processes in Bosnia.
MRG currently has experience litigating cases before the European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. MRG has also supported litigation before the UN Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The litigation focuses primarily on land rights, political participation and wider anti-discrimination issues. For a full overview of our legal work, you are encouraged to visit our website – see http://minorityrights.org/law-and-legal-cases/
The Fellow will gain thorough, hands-on experience of MRG’s legal work. Their full engagement in the research, analysis and drafting of cases is essential. As much of our work covers new legal ground, we also count on their creativity to help establish new jurisprudence. In the past, Fellows have for example been involved in developing arguments on the right to life for an indigenous land rights case against Kenya. These were subsequently argued before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Fellow can also expect to have significant contact with MRG’s partner organisations, with MRG staff in other international offices, and with staff in other departments in London.
3. Length of fellowship
The fellowship will last for a period of 12 months, starting in September/October 2020.
4. Travel opportunities
In the past, our Fellows have been able to secure funding to travel to the communities we litigate on behalf of for the purpose of collecting evidence, researching cases and representing local communities at the international level. There is also usually some funding available for this travel from MRG. For example, a recent Fellow spent 4 weeks in Kenya working with and researching the situation of the Endorois, a pastoralist community with whom we work.
5. Publishing / advocacy opportunities
Previous Fellows have had significant opportunities to publish original research based on their work at MRG. MRG has published a Fellow’s report on land rights in Belize. We have published Fellows’ blogs and photo stories, and we have assisted Fellows in publishing academic work and op-eds related to our cases.
Fellows may also be given the opportunity to represent MRG at external meetings and advocacy events. For example, a previous Fellow conducted lobbying at the United Nations Offices at Geneva on behalf of MRG.
6. Particular skills necessary for fellowship
The Fellowship is open to law graduates. Candidates must have finished their degree by the time they start the Fellowship. We require Fellow(s) to demonstrate strong research skills on both electronic legal databases (e.g. Lexis Nexis) and library materials. Fellows must also have show excellent legal writing skills. Fellows must have an understanding of international human rights law. Some degree of familiarity with economic, social and cultural rights, as well as minority rights and/or indigenous rights is also ideal, but not essential. For candidates with little or no knowledge of this area, we would ask for some detail on how their skills can be beneficial to our programme.
Ideally, the Fellow(s) would also be able to at least to read in a second or third language (French being particularly desirable). Experience conducting human rights research in the field is desirable. Experience working in partnership with human rights or related organisations in the field is also desirable.
Due to the long term nature of the fellowship, we do give preference to applicants who are able to secure the backing of an institution (e.g. university, law firm) to help cover their expenses.
Unfortunately, MRG is not able to fund the fellowship or contribute to financing the work undertaken by the Fellow.
8. Housing and visa queries
We are happy to direct the Fellow(s) to websites that advertise accommodation. We are also able to circulate a request for housing to our network of contacts prior to the arrival of the Fellows(s).
If you do not already have a visa / permission to work in the UK, MRG can provide support for candidates’ visa applications.
9. How to apply
Please send a CV, covering letter and short writing sample by 20 February 2019 to firstname.lastname@example.org.