Legal Fellowship 2023-24 (closing 11 December)
Dates: September 2023 – September 2024
Overview of our organisation’s mission and activities
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental 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.
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. MRG currently has experience litigating cases before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). MRG has also supported litigation before the UN Human Rights Committee (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). The litigation focuses primarily on land rights, political participation, and broader anti-discrimination issues.
The Fellow will assist in legal research and analysis as well as in writing legal memos, briefs and correspondence in support of existing cases, mainly focusing on issues related to access to and enjoyment of ancestral land by indigenous people across East Africa (e.g., the Benet Mosop in Uganda, the Batwa in DRC and others). The Fellow will also contribute to identifying gaps in the law for selecting new cases within the framework of MRG’s legal strategy.
The Fellow will liaise with MRG partner indigenous organisations and other NGOs, as well as with external lawyers and consultants for the specific case or project. The Fellow will be involved in advocacy work and contribute to the development, planning and backing of funding proposals for new areas of work, especially in the climate and environmental justice field. Finally, the Fellow will be responsible for undertaking research on emerging standards in international law that relate to minorities and indigenous peoples.
The Fellow will gain thorough, hands-on experience in 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 grounds, we also count on their creativity to help establish new jurisprudence. In the past, Fellows have 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 staff in other international offices and with staff in other departments in London (such as Policy, Communication and Programmes).
Finally, despite the high level of responsibility, the office atmosphere is very relaxed. We work based on flexi-time – so long as the work gets done properly, we do not police the hours. The Fellow will preferably be based around MRG London or Kampala office and work at least 2 days a week from the office and the rest of the time remotely.
Length of fellowship
The fellowship will last for 12 months, starting in September 2023, although this may be subject to renewal by the mutual agreement of both parties.
The Fellow will get a chance to work in field mission cases to collect evidence, research and/or represent local communities upon funding availability. For example, a former Fellow spent 4 weeks in Kenya working with and researching the situation of the Endorois, a pastoralist community with whom we work.
The Fellow will get many opportunities to work on advocacy, from writing blogs to academic articles and op-eds, depending on MRG’s communication and legal agenda. The Fellow may also have the opportunity to represent the organisation at local and international advocacy events, such as before the UN and to support the research and drafting of shadow reports and/or statements to submit to UN platforms or else, according to opportunities.
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 the Fellow to demonstrate strong research skills on electronic legal databases (e.g., Lexis Nexis) and library materials. The fellow must also have excellent legal writing skills and 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 would also be able to at least 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 can secure the backing of an institution (e.g., from a university or a 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.
Housing and visa queries
We are happy to guide the new Fellow to websites that advertise accommodation. We can also circulate a request for housing to our network of contacts before the Fellow’s arrival.
If you do not already have a visa/permission to work in the UK, MRG can provide support for candidates’ visa applications.
How to apply
Please send your CV, cover letter and a short writing sample (around 800 words) by filling out the form below by 11 December 2022.