Position Available

Call for Applications: Programme Officer, Affirming Rights (Southern Africa)

Who is Natural Justice? 

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, and in the 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 know the law, use the law and shape the law. 

Natural Justice has three main pillars: Affirming and Securing Rights to Lands, Resources and Knowledge; Defending Rights against Environmental and Social Impacts; and Standing with Communities. 

To learn more about the work of Natural Justice please refer to www.naturaljustice.org 

Who are we looking for? 

Natural Justice is seeking a professional to join its Cape Town hub as a Programme Officer under the Affirming Rights Programmatic Stream. The hub works across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The successful candidate will be primarily based within the Affirming Rights Stream, but will work across all three work streams, including working closely with the Standing with Communities and Defending Rights streams, as well as across the organisation. They will be expected to work with the support staff, including finance, communications, monitoring and evaluation and research.  

The Programme Officer must have an interest in supporting indigenous people and local communities throughout the countries we work in. They will be expected to foster long-term, committed relationships with communities, build connections to community partners and work in consortiums and partnerships with other civil society organisations.  

Their knowledge and experience should include policy development across the region and nationally, community and biocultural rights, climate justice, the just transition, indigenous rights, land rights and human rights. Experience should include legislative development, public participation, mobilisation of communities and advocacy. Knowledge of biocultural community protocols, and access and benefit sharing will be an added advantage.  

Natural Justice is an African organisation. For this role, preference is given to those applying from Southern African countries, particularly those countries supported by the Southern African team. The successful candidate must have a permit that allows them to perform work in South Africa. 

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. The organisation promotes personal responsibility, wellness, feminist and collective leadership and values of solidarity and support. Joining Natural Justice will also give the successful candidate a chance to work with a passionate and professional team across Africa and support them to gain valuable national and regional experience. 

Natural Justice will offer a nationally competitive salary commensurate with skill and experience, with additional Medical Aid, (optional) Provident fund and UIF benefits, and access to a laptop and technical support. This is a full-time position, with a three-month probationary period. 

The successful candidate will be ideally based in Cape Town, South Africa. However, candidates with the desired qualifications and experience based in other Southern African countries will be considered. Candidates will be expected to travel nationally and regionally, and occasionally internationally. They are expected to begin work as soon as possible.  

The Programme Officer will work closely with the Programme Managers across the programmatic streams and will report directly to the Affirming Rights Programme Manager and Director of the Cape Town Hub. Their role will be to further develop, maximize the impact of, and expand the Affirming Rights programmatic stream in Southern Africa, initially with a focus on South Africa and Mozambique. They will assist in the development of strategy, and initiate, plan, implement and manage projects and activities (including timelines and deliverables).   

The key roles and responsibilities  

The Programme Officer will be expected to, amongst other things: 

  • Under the guidance of the Affirming Rights Programme Manager and Hub Director, develop, plan and implement the work of the Affirming Rights programme of work in Southern Africa, including its projects, deliverables, and annual plans, ensuring their alignment with Natural Justice’s overall strategy. 
  • Assist with supporting the growth of the Affirming Rights programme through support of proposal development, reporting, monitoring and evaluation and research.  
  • Work closely with and collaborate with other affirming rights officers.  
  • Write collaborative research reports, concept documents, academic papers, and organisational reports. 
  • Assist in developing and implementing a strategic advocacy policy for Affirming Rights. 
  • Support local communities in Southern Africa to assert their land, biocultural, customary, indigenous and community rights through legal empowerment approaches, community consultations and submissions to relevant government and institutional bodies. 
  • Develop and deliver community training on laws and legal empowerment methodologies, including Biocultural Community Protocols and Access, and Benefit Sharing Negotiations.  
  • Support environmental defenders and communities in affirming their customary and indigenous rights, and human rights in the face of threats. 
  • Undertake legal research, write submissions and provide opinions on environmental, human rights and climate justice issues through the countries of Southern Africa. 
  • In collaboration with hub staff, provide support to community environmental legal officers (incl. Provide training on laws, policies and processes that impact communities’ rights and access to land and the environment).  
  • Support the work of the hub in relation to tracking policy changes, research and submissions on law and policy. 
  • Write opinion articles and support the communications team in respect of circulating relevant information to the public.    
  • Guide the research team to conduct relevant desktop and field research. Share research findings with stakeholders and at relevant national and international fora. 
  • Identify, build and maintain networks and/or partnerships with relevant stakeholders from government, civil society groups, community-based organizations, the private sector and academia. 
  • Support the development of partnership documents (MOUs, etc.) where relevant. 
  • Collaborate with Natural Justice staff in the other countries. Participate in regular program meetings of the Hub and Natural Justice 
  • Submit updates and reports on projects and programs to the Hub Director. 


  • Completed bachelor qualification, with 2-3 years’ work experience in land rights, environmental justice, human rights or other related sectors. 
  • A post-graduate degree in law, political science or other relevant social science discipline is desirable. 
  • A good knowledge of South Africa’s and/or Mozambique’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. 
  • Knowledge of the Convention of Biodiversity and the Community Protocol and Access and Benefit Sharing legislative frameworks in Southern African countries will be highly advantageous. 
  • Experience working with marginalised communities and/or indigenous communities. 
  • Good research skills in law, policy and social issues. 
  • Experience in policy advocacy highly advantageous. 
  • Experience in legal empowerment methodologies highly advantageous. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills imperative. 
  • Ability to travel nationally and internationally.  
  • 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 community rights, constitutionalism and principles of environmental justice. 
  • Sound emotional intelligence skills to enable interaction with persons from all sectors of the society. 
  • Proficiency in English. Fluency in another local South African, French or Portuguese languages would be advantageous.  

Application process 

Deadline: 18 November 2022  

Please email your application to admin.nj@naturaljustice.org with the following subject line: “CT: Programme Officer Affirming Rights”. 

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, if possible, of your past written work (for example, articles or research reports). 

Please ensure that your application as a whole speaks to the required qualifications, experience, personal profile and key roles and responsibilities. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. 

Shortlisted candidates will be expected to take part in at least one online interview. Should it be necessary, Natural Justice may require a second interview which may involve a short, written exercise and presentation on a relevant issue pertaining to the job.   

Natural Justice supports the development of young, African legal and human rights professionals and promotes representation and diversity within their hiring practices.  

Best of luck!  

The Natural Justice Team 

Closing Date

18 November 2022

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