Position Available

Call for Applications: Senior Programme Officer, Defending Rights

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.

Natural Justice seeks a lawyer to join its Cape Town hub as a Senior Programme Officer.  The hub works across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The successful candidate will be primarily based within the Defending Rights Stream but will work across all three work streams in the hub to provide legal support to indigenous people and local communities, particularly in relation to climate justice matters, indigenous rights, land rights and human rights. They will work with a passionate team of staff within the hub and frequently collaborate with staff across the organisation.

The successful candidate will be based in Cape Town, with regular travel nationally, and occasional travel internationally.  They are expected to begin work as soon as possible.

What’s on offer?

Natural Justice is a small, 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 nationally competitive salary commensurate with skill and experience. The contract length will be full-time for one year with the intention of a longer-term arrangement. Joining Natural Justice will also give the successful candidate a chance to work with a passionate and professional team in a fast-paced environment and gain valuable national and regional experience.

The Senior Programme Officer will work closely with the Defending Rights Programme Manager and Director of the Cape Town Hub to further develop, maximize the impact of, and expand the Defending Rights programmatic stream in southern Africa, initially with a focus on South Africa. They will assist in the development of strategy and initiate, plan, implement and manage projects and activities (including timelines and deliverables).  They will also work with staff within the Standing with Communities and Affirming Rights streams.

The key roles and responsibilities

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

  • Support local communities in Southern Africa affected by, for example, large-scale extractives, infrastructure and other projects, by providing legal advice, and by supporting legal empowerment approaches.
  • Provide high quality legal advice and support to communities Natural Justice works with and its partners.
  • Support environmental and climate litigation cases across the hub, where relevant.
  • Support environmental defenders and communities in affirming their customary and indigenous rights.
  • Undertake legal research, write submissions and provide opinions on environmental and climate justice issues.
  • In collaboration with hub staff, provide support to community environmental legal officers (incl. training, developing and implementing reporting and management structures).
  • Support the work of the hub in relation to research and submissions on law and policy.
  • Write opinion articles on the outcomes of the programmatic work.  
  • Contribute to the overall Defending Rights programme and strategy.
  • Form and maintain good working relationships with all key partners including communities, government entities and donors.
  • Collaborate with Natural Justice staff in the other countries.


  • Completed legal qualification and admission as an attorney or advocate.
  • 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.
  • At least two years’ post-admission experience in a legal environment.
  • Experience in litigation.
  • Experience in criminal law would be advantageous.
  • 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.
  • Proficient in English.  Fluency in another local language would be advantageous.

Application process

Deadline: 31 July 2021

Please email your application to applications@naturaljustice.org with the following subject line: “CT: Senior Programme Officer Defending 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.

Best of luck!

The Natural Justice Team

Closing Date

31 July 2021

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