Position Available

Call for Applications: Head of Affirming Rights Program, Africa

Natural Justice is an organisation rooted in the struggles of communities in Africa. As a team of pioneering lawyers and legal experts, we specialise in human rights and environmental law in pursuit of social and environmental justice. Natural Justice strives to enhance the collective rights of people and protect the sacred relationships that indigenous peoples and local communities have with nature. Our work is informed by the values, knowledge, and self-determination of the communities whom we stand in solidarity with. Through legal empowerment, research, policy influencing and litigation, and as part of coalitions and campaigns, we support communities to defend and affirm their rights to their lands and environments. To learn more about the work of Natural Justice please refer to www.naturaljustice.org

What are we looking for?

Based on the intersecting crises including environmental and climate, human rights abuses, patriarchy, race and inequality amongst others, Natural Justice is in a key phase to expand its work to stand behind more communities across Africa. Central to this is supporting communities to increase and secure control over their lands, ecosystems and traditional knowledge leading to increased community agency and resilience, and providing alternatives, solutions and adaptation to the planetary crisis.

Natural Justice seeks a Head of our Affirming Rights Program who will work with our team across the organization to lead the development and implementation of an ambitious, high-quality and impactful affirming rights strategy. You will play a leading role in further developing and implementing effective legal advocacy strategies to increase rights of communities to their lands, environments and traditional knowledge at the international level, including the UNFCCC and CBD, the continental level, including with the AU and African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, and at the national level, in collaboration with the Natural Justice team and community partners.

You will play a leading role in developing and overseeing the implementation of legal strategies with the Affirming Rights program team to support indigenous and local communities in Africa to increase and secure control over their lands, resources and traditional knowledge. You will develop, maintain and deepen relationships with key legal organisations and other allies, and develop partnerships for joint engagement strategies in national, regional and international fora. You will work with a passionate team of lawyers and legal experts, campaign and communication officers, program managers, regional-hub directors, the director of programs and development and the executive.

Further information on the Affirming Rights Program can be found in the Natural Justice strategy.

The position is full-time – permanent and Natural Justice offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience. The successful candidate will be based in any African country, with preference given to applicants able to be based in Natural Justice offices in Kenya, South Africa or Senegal.

How to Apply:

Applications should be submitted via email to nj.hr@naturaljustice.org with ‘Head of Affirming Rights Application’ in the subject line.

Applications must include:

  1. A motivation letter that indicates a) why you are interested in this position and what inspires you about environmental justice; and b) aspects of your background that demonstrate the required competence for this role;
  2. A detailed CV with three contactable references; and
  3. Two samples of your past written work (for example, articles or cases you were involved in).

Please ensure that your application, as a whole, speaks to the required qualifications, experience, personal profile and key roles and responsibilities. Please do not apply if you do not meet the required experience. Deadline: 18 July 2022. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Key Roles and Responsibilities: Program Head, Affirming Rights

  1. Strategic Development and Thought Leadership
  • Lead the program’s conceptual and strategic development in line with the overall Natural Justice strategy
  • Provide oversight on program direction, vis-à-vis the broader policy debate, and ensure it is in synergy with Natural Justice’s vision/mission
  • Ensure the program is strongly linked with Natural Justice’s litigation team, campaigns and communication teams, including contributing to research, policy, advocacy, media and public-facing campaigns
  • Work closely with the three Hubs and country program’s and provide strategic leadership and support around organization wide affirming rights strategies or national, regional engagement strategies
  • Lead the program team in designing legal advocacy and legal empowerment strategies toward securing community rights to lands, resources and traditional knowledge
  • Remain up to date on current policy debate and involved in relevant online fora to ensure Natural Justice’s strategy remains innovative and Natural Justice’s work is distributed in relevant policy circles

2. Program Management

  • Manage implementation of agreed plans in relation to affirming rights, including resource allocation, risk management and proactively identifying opportunities
  • Ensure the participation of Natural Justice in international and regional policy processes relevant to the stream, including submissions, participation in negotiations and facilitation of direct community participation
  • Oversee the implementation of legal strategies to support communities assert rights over their lands, resources and knowledge
  • Ensure that Natural Justice maximizes its impact through clear models of change, smart objectives and priorities, linking local to global, the optimal use of limited resources, and good collaboration with communities, partners and allies
  • Work closely with the research and MEL team to ensure collation of data and high quality research outputs

3. Technical Support

  • Provide technical and legal advice to partners, affected communities and other relevant stakeholders
  • Provide comments and training on laws, policies and processes that impact communities’ rights and access to land and the environment
  • Support litigation of relevant cases
  • Deliver presentations, and organize and conduct workshops/meetings

4. Networking and Communications

  • Identify, build and maintain networks and/or partnerships with relevant stakeholders from government, civil society groups, community-based organizations, the private sector and academia
  • In coordination with the communications team, write articles, comments, statements, articles, blogs and reports relevant to the Program for public distribution, including on the Natural Justice website and social media channels
  • In collaboration with the communications team, develop the communications and campaign strategies of the Program

5. Strengthening staff and partner capacity

  • Work with key staff members to increase skills and experience around rights frameworks and strategies
  • Work with partners and communities in support of their understanding and use of the law
  • Work closely with the staff in each regional hub to implement the affirming rights strategies

6. Finance and Administration

  • Provide financial oversight of the program’s budget and ensure appropriate documentation to the finance team

7. Fundraising

  • Manage funding contracts, track their implementation and report to donors.
  • Provide input into the fundraising strategy. Develop concepts and work with the Management Team around the overall fundraising and, specifically, in terms of funding for the affirming rights program.

8. Oversight     

  • In collaboration with regional hub directors, oversee and guide the work of the affirming rights team across the organization
  • Report to the director of programs and development

9. Travel

  • Ability to undertake frequent local travel, and international travel as required

10. General

  • Maintain a good knowledge of the role and policies of Natural Justice
  • To represent Natural Justice in a positive, professional, and effective manner
  • To attend, contribute actively and constructively at team and program meetings
  • To seek opportunities for personal and professional development, particularly related to the specific areas of responsibility
  • Complete any other duties that may be related to the organization’s overall mandate.

Selection Criteria

Minimum Academic Requirements:

  • An undergraduate degree in law or relevant social science discipline
  • A post graduate degree is desirable


  • At least 8 years of demonstrated work expertise in international and national environmental and/or human rights law and policy, including a track record on legal advocacy
  • Proven program design and management experience
  • Demonstrated experience of legal advocacy at the international and national levels
  • Demonstrated experience in design and implementation of legal strategies to support community rights over land and resources
  • Experience relating research or project experiences to policy advocacy
  • Experience in fundraising and donor engagement, including to report writing
  • Demonstrated experience in leading high-performing teams, including strong human resource management skills (preferably including distance management), facilitation and leadership in times of change
  • Strong set of operational management skills, including experience in developing, monitoring and managing a large, complex budget and experience in reporting performance against plans to a range of audiences
  • Good knowledge of pan-African and international politics and political processes

Knowledge and key competencies:

  • Fluency in English; and proficiency in French is an added advantage.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Very good ability to work with limited supervision on roles assigned
  • Critically reviews, analyses, synthesizes, compares and interprets information
  • Takes initiative to go beyond the routine demands of the job
  • Deadline driven
  • Able to effectively negotiate and resolve issues either within or outside of the organization
  • Very good, demonstrated awareness of and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds, genders, and orientations
  • Works cooperatively with others to complete work assignments
  • Empathy and respect for diverse views
  • Very good, demonstrable commitment to serving the public interest

Closing Date

18 July 2022

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