Associate Legal Officer
Open Society Justice Initiative
Open Society Institute–Budapest
Application Deadline: November 4, 2011
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, the Open Society Foundations implement a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, we build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. The Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
Investor and philanthropist George Soros established the Open Society Foundations, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. Our activities have grown to encompass the United States and more than 70 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Each foundation relies on the expertise of boards composed of eminent citizens who determine individual agendas based on local priorities.
The Open Society Justice Initiative uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies. We foster accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, address abuses related to national security and counterterrorism, expand freedom of information and expression, and stem corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Our staff are based in Abuja, Amsterdam, Bishkek, Brussels, Budapest, Freetown, The Hague, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Phnom Penh, Santo Domingo and Washington, D.C.
In most countries where the Open Society Justice Initiative is active, lawyers who combine the desire and skills to defend human rights and pursue cases in the public interest are scarce. Fostering and sustaining local capacity is essential to many of our longer-term substantive goals, from more effective criminal justice systems to greater legal protection for minorities. One of the principal ways to train lawyers is through collaborative engagement in our substantive project work—“learning by doing.” At the same time, the Justice Initiative has established programs focused primarily on capacity development—the establishment of university-based law student clinics, a small set of human rights fellowships, an effort to help local lawyers secure legal remedies for torture in Central Asia, and, most recently, a transitional program on legal empowerment of the poor.
The Justice Initiative’s Project on Legal Remedies for Torture in Central Asia is designed to litigate cases of custodial killings and torture to the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture, while raising the profile of these problems through national, regional and global advocacy. Working with Open Society Foundations and human rights NGOs in the field, the project combines litigation with advocacy in an attempt to highlight the widespread and systematic use of torture in the target countries and to advocate for change. The work of the project has to date been conducted in and regarding the conditions in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan but is extending the litigation work to other countries of the region.
Based in Budapest, Hungary, in the Open Society Foundations office or in Bishkek at the Offices of Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan under the direction of the Project Manager, Central Asia, (Project Manager), the Associate Legal Officer, Legal Capacity Development (LCD), will develop, oversee and implement program strategies and projects pertaining to legal remedies for torture. The position is for the term of one year with further extensions upon mutual agreement.
- Under the supervision of the Project Manager, the Associate Legal Officer manages the Legal Remedies for Torture (LRT) project and related tasks as assigned by the Project Manager, Central Asia.
- Under the supervision of the Project Manager, develops project-related management documents.
- Project development:
- In consultation with and subject to the approval of the Project Manager, the Associate Legal Officer conceptualizes project activities, drawing on the views of experts in the field and working with local partners, researching the human rights/legal, civil society and political context of proposed activities; organizes consultation meetings, and develops project plans, budgets and other project documents.
- Project implementation:
- LRT Project Responsibility: Oversees running of the project, and ensures the quality and impact of all litigation carried out under the project including but not limited to: building partnerships and maintaining regular communication with partners and Open Society Foundations staff, identifying suitable cases for strategic litigation and in consultation with the Project Manager drafting recommendations to the Justice Initiative Senior Management on case selection, drafting legal submissions, participating in project litigation related legal advice, writing and editing reports, in consultation with Project Manager developing drafts for litigation and advocacy before national and/or inter-governmental bodies, contacting foreign, national and local experts, training of partners/outside participants and providing technical assistance. Organizing and carrying out in-country visits to work on the projects, advocacy trips, drafting trip and project reports.
- Additional implementation duties that vary depending on needs may include advocacy before national and/or inter-governmental bodies and/or the media, drafting advocacy briefs, contacting foreign, national and local experts, events (including but not limited to project meetings, media events, networking meetings, trainings or workshops with international and regional human rights organizations), collaborating with and/or supervising, external experts for the project.
- Represents the Justice Initiative LRT project at meetings within Open Society Foundations, at public events and meetings with project partners; national, regional and/or inter-governmental organizations; and the media.
Research, Information Management, Communications
- Conducts research and prepares documentation in the area of LRT in liaison with the Project Manager and documenting experiences of providing counsel in criminal cases citing work of civil society groups, international NGOs, IGOs and donor organizations as required.
- Coordinates with and assists partner organizations and/or experts who are working with the Justice Initiative to develop resource materials.
- Maintains regular contact with the clients; maintains contact with other lawyers working on the cases where Justice Initiative acts as a co-counsel or provides technical assistance, ensure delivery of reports and effective communication.
- Prepares and develops materials for the website, annual report, board meetings and subcommittee meetings.
- Collaborates with the Project Manager and Senior Officer –Communications and Publications on Open Society Justice Initiative press releases, publications and articles written or relating to project and/or program work.
- Develops for review by the Litigation Director litigation plans, new case assessments, advocacy plans, outlines of the briefs and drafts of the briefs.
- Responds to enquiries about Justice Initiative Central Asia work from partners and others, providing them with relevant information.
Supervision of Staff and Consultants
- Drafts terms of reference, maintains contact with consultants, liaising with them on substantive, administrative and financial matters, and, in coordination with the Project Manager, assisting his/her work and research, and supervising the delivery of financial and narrative reports.
- Supervises the work of the LCD legal interns, as required. Develops management plans for the LCD legal interns. Guides legal interns on Justice Initiative strategies and programs, introduces to partner contacts, and assists with identifying resources for research purposes.
Organization and Logistics
- The Associate Legal Officer has overall responsibility for the planning and organization of workshops, conferences and other events, for the Justice Initiative and/or in cooperation with partner organizations. This work includes overseeing all logistics of organizing events, assisting partner organizations with participants, agenda, budgets, travel and other matters as required.
Administrative and Financial
- The Associate Legal Officer has overall responsibility for the integral operation of the administrative and financial aspects of the LRT project. This responsibility includes planning the administrative workload and budgets, maintaining appropriate files and liaising with the Soros Foundation - Kyrgyzstan (SFK) staff and Program Coordinator in Budapest in processing grants, contracts, payments, translations and organization of events.
- Updates the litigation docket and maintains a database of litigation work.
- Provides the Project Manager a monthly report on activities including a review of project litigation; coordinates Open Society Justice Initiative activities with those of the SFK Law Reform Program by providing regular updates to SFK.
- Oversees updating of database of contacts for the LRT.
- Holds a weekly call with the Program Coordinator in Budapest and other managing staff as required; attends monthly staff and litigation meetings.
- Travels as approved by the Project Manager; and
- Performs other project-related tasks as assigned by the Project Manager.
- Law school graduate.
- A minimum of 3 years professional experience with human rights litigation and advocacy at national or regional levels, preferably in the fields of the right to life, fair trial rights and the prohibition of torture.
- Familiarity with U.N. treaty bodies and other international and regional human rights tribunals and jurisprudence;
- Excellent oral and written communication and analytic skills.
- Complete fluency in English with excellent writing, editorial, and oral advocacy skills; together with good written and spoken Russian.
- Local knowledge of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Competitive salary commensurate with experience.
By November 4, 2011, please send email@example.com the following documents in English: a letter of interest; a resume; a writing sample; and 2 reference letters with «Associate Legal Officer, Legal Capacity Development» in the headline.
The Open Society Foundations are an Equal Opportunity Employer which supports diversity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation.