6 NGO Human Rights Jobs (And What You Need To Apply)

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Human rights are a series of inalienable protections that all people around the world should enjoy, regardless of race, nationality, religious belief, gender or sexual orientation. Sadly, there are many parts of the world where human rights are not respected. There are many NGOs that make it their mission to promote human rights in the countries they work. Across the NGO sector, there are many jobs open to those interested in doing human rights work. Here we go over some of them…

Human Rights Officer

A first human rights job recruited by many NGOs is the role of Human Rights Officer. The Human Rights Officer is a mid-level position in the NGO sector. It is responsible for supporting the day-to-day implementation of an NGO’s human rights work. This can include researching, feeding into policy development, assisting with campaigns and providing general project support.

The Human Rights Officer within an NGO usually works as part of a wider human rights, advocacy or campaigns team. They usually report to a Human Rights Programme Manager. They may have a Project Assistant that feeds into their work.

How to Apply

As a mid-level position in the NGO sector, you will need a few years’ experience in order to get the job as a Human Rights Officer. An educational background in human rights, international development, humanitarian action or international relations would also be beneficial.

Campaigns Coordinator

A second NGO human rights job is the Campaigns Coordinator. Many NGOs runs public campaigns to raise awareness of human rights issues. They may draw attention to specific cases, or may advocate for improved human rights in a specific country. These NGO campaigns not only aim to raise public awareness, but by doing so aim to pressure political leaders to make changes.

The role of the Campaigns Coordinator is to oversee an NGO’s campaign department. It is a senior-management role that sets the NGO’s campaigning vision, leads the team organizing the campaigns and is responsible for their ultimate delivery. The Campaigns Coordinator will work closely with other human rights staff including in research and advocacy teams.

How to Apply

You will need several years’ experience in champagning, advocacy or events, ideally in the NGO sector, to get a job as a Campaigns Coordinator for an NGO. A strong understanding of human rights, and how campaigning is linked to tangible improvements in people’s human rights, is also required.

Policy Officer – Human Rights

Another NGO human rights job is the position of Policy Officer. Many NGOs develop public policy that relates to the work they do helping people. The aim of this policy is to create long-term and system change that can address the root causes of issues the NGO is working on. Many human rights NGOs will have a policy team developing human rights related proposals.

The job of the Policy Officer it to support the policy development team within an NGO. In many NGOs, there is a Policy Officer dedicated to feeding into human rights policy. They will often conduct research, draft policy documents and assist with reviewing policy outputs.

How to Apply

As a mid-level position in the NGO sector, you will need some experience in a policy related role in order to get a job as a Policy Officer. An educational background in, or at least a strong theoretical understanding of, human rights will also be needed. Being able to demonstrate you can how policy changes can make tangible improvements to people’s human rights will also be key.

Human Rights Online Courses

One of the biggest challenges faces the world is climate change. Global heating will have a dramatic effect on the continent. The online short course Climate Change and Human Rights looks at how these two areas intersect. It is a fascinating course for anyone interested in human rights. Click the link to begin enrolling.

For those that want an introduction to human rights, we recommend the online course Human Rights: A Basic Course. This provides students with an overview of the history of human rights, as well as looks the modern challenges human rights face. The link is to the course’s page.

If you are interested in human rights in a broader context, we highly recommend the online short course Human Rights for Open Societies offered by Utrecht University in the Netherlands. This course looks at how human rights legislation can become undermined and the importance of protecting human rights conventions from attack. Follow the link for more information.

Human Rights Researcher

Another human rights job that is common for NGOs to recruit is the position of Human Rights Researcher. NGOs that do human rights work employ the Human Rights Researcher to investigate human rights abuses, assist with developing policies and produce papers related to the NGO’s work on human rights.

In most NGOs the Human Rights Researcher will work as part of a wider human rights department. In larger NGOs, the Human Rights Researcher may work as part of a dedicated research or policy department that focuses on a range of issues related to the NGOs work.

How to Apply

NGOs will be looking to hire people with previous experience in conducting complex and challenging research for the role of Human Rights Researcher. You will need an academic background, perhaps even up to PhD level, in order to apply. Previous experience of research projects related to human rights will also be beneficial.

Project Manager – Human Rights

One human rights job that many NGOs have is the Project Manager – Human Rights. This position works on the implementation of the NGOs human rights programme. They apply project management methodologies to sure the NGO’s Human Rights Work is delivering the required outcomes.

Many NGOs will have the Human Rights Project Manager stationed at their country or regional office. However, you will see some Project Manager – Human Rights positions at HQ level in large NGOs that focusing heavily on human rights work. The Project Manager – Human Rights will usually work as part of a wider human rights department.

How to Apply

NGOs will be looking for candidates with formal qualifications, or previous work experience, related to project management for this position. As the role also focuses specifically on human rights projects, you will also likely need a theoretical understanding of human rights, and how NGO projects support them.

Advocacy Coordinator

A final NGO human rights job is the role of Advocacy Coordinator. NGOs advocate for political leaders to make changes that will benefit the communities they are working fort. It’s another way they work towards long-term and system change. The Advocacy Coordinator in an NGO is one of the most senior advocacy positions. In NGOs working on human rights issues, the Advocacy Coordinator will oversee work fighting for improved human rights around the world.

The Advocacy Coordinator in an NGO can be based at country or regional office level or at HQ. NGOs that focus heavily on advocacy may have more than one senior advocacy position. In this case they can have an Advocacy Coordinator solely dedicated to human rights campaigning.

How to Apply

As a senior position in the NGO sector, you will need several years’ experience in advocacy related roles in order to become an Advocacy Coordinator for an NGO. You will also need a background in human rights work if you want to do advocacy for an NGO fighting for better human rights protections.

If you want to know more about how to get a job with an NGO, explore our page on the top NGO online courses here.


Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over ten years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.