International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) - Human Rights Defenders Legal Fellowship


Trainings & Fellowships NGO & Institutes

Location (s):

  • United States of America
UN Plaza, New York, NY


ISHR is an independent, non-profit organization with offices in Geneva and New York. In 2016, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) established the Human Rights Defenders Fellowship program to provide a position at ISHR to one outstanding recent law school graduate each year.


The ISHR Human Rights Defenders Fellowship provides invaluable training and experience for a recent graduate preparing for a career in international human rights.

The fellowship offers a unique opportunity to view the United Nations human rights system at work in New York. It provides hands-on experience working for an international non-governmental organization (NGO) as well as the opportunity to contribute to our work supporting human rights defenders, strengthening human rights systems, building and leading human rights coalitions, and responding to significant and systemic situations of concern.

Practice Areas:

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, International Human Rights, International Law, Legislative Policy, LGBTI Issues, Litigation, Policy, Women's Rights, Corporate Accountability, Reprisals, Migrant and Refugee Rights.

Key Tasks:

Through a combination of research and analysis, advocacy, capacity building, and media work, the Fellow will work closely with the ISHR Director and program staff, contributing to our work supporting human rights defenders, strengthening human rights systems, building and leading human rights coalitions, and responding to significant and systemic situations of concern.

• Support legal counsel in preparing submissions to national, regional and international human rights mechanisms and courts;
• Assist with research in relation to international human rights mechanisms, the Universal Periodic Review, and the treaty bodies of the OHCHR;
• Represent ISHR at meetings and in coalition work with other NGOs and UN contacts;
• Assist with ISHR’s work with regional human rights defenders’ networks and human rights bodies at the regional level;
• Monitor and take minutes at UN human rights meetings;
• Contribute to ISHR’s publications, including through drafting and editing online web articles, briefing papers, and other reports as needed;

Training and Opportunities:

• Staff meetings which include presentations from ISHR staff members on current activities and their own experiences;

• Opportunities to interact and network with human rights defenders, diplomats or other UN and NGO professionals both at the United Nations and at ISHR office during meetings;

• Practical sessions and guidance in monitoring and writing reports for various UN mechanisms;

• Individual supervision and mentoring.

Application Deadline: January 1st

Schedule: One-year position beginning June-August (dates are flexible). Full-time. Monday thru Friday, 9AM – 5PM.

Location: 777 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017

Reports to: Direct Supervisor (Program Manager)

To Apply

Please submit a cover letter (max. 1 page), resume (max. 3 pages), two writing samples (including bibliographies), the contact information of two references, and a description of your intended funding source by email to

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:


The successful fellow must:

• Be a recent graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, having taken up relevant coursework in a J.D. or LL.M. program. Exceptional recent graduates from other relevant graduate-level programs will be considered;

• Have working knowledge of international human rights law;

• Demonstrate familiarity with the UN human rights system, regional human rights systems and mechanism, and/or human rights defenders;

• Have strong drafting and research skills;

• Be committed to international human rights;

• Be able to report thoroughly and accurately on meetings;

• Be flexible and self-motivated;

• Be able to work as a member of an international and multicultural team and willing to participate in a variety of tasks, as required;

• Have excellent written and oral communication skills in English. Knowledge of official UN languages, especially Spanish and French, is desirable.

Please note that we can only consider the applications of US citizens or holders of US permits.


Deadline: The application period is open for one or more cycles a year

Cost/funding for participants:


This is an unpaid fellowship. ISHR will cover a monthly public transportation pass. ISHR is also willing to assist with applications for external funding made by applicants.

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