Position Available

Legal Fellow

Who is Natural Justice?

Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment is a non-profit organization, specializing in human rights and environmental law, operating on the African continent and at the regional (African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights) and international (UN) levels. We are a team of progressive legal practitioners who conduct comprehensive research on environmental and human rights law, support communities and local organizations, provide technical advice to governments and intergovernmental organizations, and engage in key international and regional processes in pursuit of social and environmental justice. Natural Justice is headquartered in Cape Town, works in a range of African countries, and has teams in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Benin, and Guinea.

What are we looking for?

Together with our partners, we are supporting communities to protect their traditional knowledge, benefit from its utilization and support communities to secure greater access to their resources and lands, on which their livelihoods and cultures are dependent.

Dispossession of lands and natural resources is a major human rights problem for communities, especially indigenous communities. Many of them are pushed out of their traditional areas to give way for development initiatives that favor the economic interests of others.

Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities all over Africa are the original custodians of their lands and natural resources. Their traditional knowledge and practices play an important role in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. However, communities usually do not receive fair benefits from the use of their resources.

A number of new policy frameworks aim to share the costs and benefits of conservation more equitably. One such framework is the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity. For the first time, this legally binding international framework gives rights to communities over traditional knowledge and genetic resources.

The implementation of these frameworks brings opportunities for communities in Africa and elsewhere. Nevertheless, they also bear risks if they are not implemented in accordance with community rights and local realities.

We are now seeking a full-time legal fellow for a short-term (6 months) period to assist us in our South Africa and Namibia projects under the Governance of Lands and Natural Resources Programme and Traditional Knowledge and Benefit Sharing Programme. The ideal candidate will be passionate and knowledgeable about protecting communities’ traditional knowledge, traditional resource rights as well as strategic advocacy at the Africa regional level. The successful candidate will be based in Cape Town and will be expected to begin work immediately.

What’s on offer?

Natural Justice is a close-knit and nurturing collective that places emphasis on facilitating opportunities for the professional and personal growth of its members. Natural Justice will offer a competitive salary commensurate with skill and experience. Joining Natural Justice will also give the successful candidate a chance to work with a passionate and highly professional global team in a fast-paced environment and gain valuable international experience. It is short term position with the possibility of extension, funding dependent.

Key duties and responsibilities

  • Support the work as part of both the Governance of Lands & Natural Resources and Traditional Knowledge and Access & Benefit Sharing programmes.
  • Engage in constitutional and policy research, advocacy and support strategic litigation in furtherance of human and peoples’ rights to their lands, resources and traditional knowledge in both South Africa and Namibia.
  • Undertake legal research, write submissions and provide opinions on environmental justice issues.
  • Provide high quality legal advice and support to Natural Justice communities and its partners.
  • Review new and existing litigated files to create, update, or amend litigation plans.
  • Form and maintain good working relationships with all key partners including communities, government entities and donors.


  • Completed legal qualification. Being an admitted attorney will be an added advantage but not compulsory.
  • A good knowledge of South Africa’s constitutional and administrative law, including human rights, land & environmental law, or a clear ability to acquire the necessary knowledge within a short space of time.
  • Good legal research skills in law, policy and social issues.
  • Sound written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to grasp quickly and accurately new and complex concepts.
  • Ability to work under pressure and as part of a team.
  • Ability to balance priorities and co-ordinate work effectively in order to meet deadlines and deal with high workloads.
  • Conviction in and commitment to constitutionalism and principles of environmental justice.
  • Sound emotional intelligence skills to enable interaction with persons from all sectors of the society.

Application process:

Deadline: Monday, 23 October 2017, 17:00.

Please email your application to Human Resources (info(at)naturaljustice.org.za) with the job title in the subject line.

Include a motivation letter that indicates why you feel you are the best candidate for this position, a detailed CV with three references, and up to three samples of your past work (for example, articles, research reports or court submissions). Please ensure that your application as a whole speaks to the required skills and experience and desirable traits and attributes listed above.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Best of luck!

The Natural Justice Team