Researcher and Advocate on Digital Rights

Human Rights Watch, United States

Skill Required:, Policy/ Advocacy and CampaignResearch and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
3 to 10 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
28th July, 2019

Job Description


Researcher and Advocate on Digital Rights

Business and Human Rights Division

Application Deadline: July 27, 2019

The Business and Human Rights Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW) is seeking a Researcher and Advocate on Digital Rights to investigate, analyze, and advocate against human rights abuses related to online activities. The role of the Researcher and Advocate will include documenting and conveying the rights implications of various forms of technology used by governments and private sector actors around the world, including the human rights impacts on free expression and privacy.

We welcome applications from people who have demonstrated familiarity with the impact of technology on potentially vulnerable communities, including those who have a background in a field such as law, journalism or the social sciences as well as those with a background in engineering or computer science.

The preferred locations for this position are New York, Washington, DC, London, Toronto or San Francisco. Other major HRW offices may be considered.


  • Research, document, and analyze policies and practices related to the use of technology that raise human rights concerns, particularly in the areas of online content regulation, surveillance, encryption and internet governance;
  • Collect and analyze information on digital rights abuses from a wide variety of sources, including governments, media, the private sector, academia, NGOs, victims of abuses, open-source information, technologists, and others;
  • Interview persons whose rights have been harmed, as well as related professionals and experts;
  • Draft and publish our research findings and policy recommendations for preventing or ending technology-related human rights abuses;
  • Work with colleagues in the communications division to develop innovative multimedia and social media strategies to communicate our positions in clear and compelling ways and to advance advocacy;
  • Develop and implement advocacy strategies in collaboration with HRW colleagues to change or prevent abusive government laws, policies and practices and promote new laws or regulations that protect laws online; Press companies to end abusive practices and build human rights protections into their products, services and operations; Articulate how existing human rights standards should apply to emerging technologies;
  • Build partnerships across key communities, including other human rights NGOs, groups representing vulnerable populations, data scientists, computer scientists, technologists, industry leaders and academics;
  • Project concerns about human rights online into public debates internationally through clear and prompt responses to queries from policy makers, the media, social media and colleagues in civil society;
  • Work collaboratively with an international team of researchers, media experts and advocates and collaborate with a supportive and diverse team; Expand HRW’s work on digital rights through internal collaboration with colleagues in Human Rights Watch;
  • Travel domestically and internationally, as required, to conduct research, media work and advocacy;
  • Occasionally assist the Division and HRW’s Development and Outreach Department to conduct fundraising; and
  • Perform other duties as required.


  • Education: An advanced (graduate) degree in international relations, journalism, law, social sciences, data science, computer science, engineering, or related studies is preferable.
  • Experience: A minimum of three to five years of relevant human rights experience is required, and a focus on digital rights is desirable. Relevant experience includes research, writing, analysis, advocacy, or community organizing related to the impact of censorship, surveillance, or the human rights implications of internet regulation – particularly on vulnerable communities. We would consider experience as an investigative reporter, social scientist, or lawyer on these issues as relevant and valuable. Candidates may also explain why their other experience would help lead to success in this position.

Related Skills and Knowledge:

The below offers a list of the kinds of qualifications that we will be looking for when evaluating applications. If you believe you currently have skills that are analogous and transferable rather than digital rights-specific skills, please explain this in your cover letter.

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are required. Proficiency in other languages is highly desirable.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively and in a culturally sensitive manner with a range of vulnerable or marginalized groups, in partnership with other organizations and others relating to digital human rights issues.
  • Ability to explain (verbally and in writing) complex technical subjects clearly, compellingly and respectfully to non-specialist audiences, including policymakers, the public and specialists in non-technical fields.
  • Knowledge of and experience in international human rights law.
  • Ability to multi-task effectively, including having strong planning and organizing skills, and ability to work well under pressure.

Other: Willingness and ability to periodically work flexible hours to accommodate exceptional or urgent events is required.

Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits. HRW offers a relocation assistance package and will assist employees in obtaining necessary work authorization, if required; citizens of all nationalities are encouraged to apply.

How to Apply: Please apply immediately by visiting our online job portal at and attach a letter of interest, resume or CV, and a 5-10 page writing sample (unedited by others). No calls or email inquiries, please. Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with your application submission, please email for assistance. Due to the large response, application submissions via email will not be accepted and inquiries regarding the status of applications will go unanswered.

Human Rights Watch is strong because it is diverse. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply. Human Rights Watch does not discriminate on the basis of ability, age, gender identity and expression, national origin, race and ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or criminal record. We welcome all kinds of diversity. Our employees include people who are parents and nonparents, the self-taught and university educated, and from a wide span of socio-economic backgrounds and perspectives on the world. Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer.

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights monitoring and advocacy organization known for its in-depth investigations, its incisive and timely reporting, its innovative and high-profile advocacy campaigns, and its success in changing the human rights-related policies and practices of influential governments and international institutions.

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