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Program Officer - Security & Rights

Open Society Foundations

Job Type:
Job Status:
Full Time
Open Society Foundations
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Job Details

The Human Rights Initiative (HRI) works across issues and geographies to promote a comprehensive vision of human rights that recognizes that a diverse and powerful human rights movement is critical to the ongoing struggle of all people to realize our rights. Given the challenging context the human rights movement faces, the Human Rights Initiative supports efforts of the movement to reinvigorate itself and adapt to this context by expanding the way it advances rights. Across issues and geographies, we support the movement to engage directly with the public to elevate support for human rights values, prioritize the voices of activists rooted in and able to mobilize communities, and ensure greater solidarity across rights struggles and social movements. We envision a human rights movement grounded in communities, partnering with actors from within and outside the movement, communicating its message with impact, and able to push back against the growing politics of fear.

High-profile terror attacks highlight the need for states to ensure security, but national security measures can weaken basic human rights protections such as the right to due process, liberty, privacy, and life, and restrict the space for civil society activism, public protest and dissent. Often those most affected by these policies are racial, ethnic and religious minorities, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

The Human Rights Initiative seeks to prevent the erosion of human rights in the name of security, underscoring the important role of democratic institutions, minority voices, civic activism and dissent in creating safe and open societies. We seek to support civil society to hold state and non-state actors to account for the systemic erosion of rights and freedoms in the name of national security.

Job Profile

HRI seeks a Program Officer to support the development of grant-making strategies to help respond to the needs of the human rights movement in confronting the erosion of rights in the name of national security.

Utilizing knowledge and experience in the intersection of security and rights, strong analytical skills and capacity to build trusting relationships with actors in the field, the Program Officer will help build an interesting and impactful portfolio that straddles several issue and rights areas.

The Program Officer role may include any or all of the following and/or similar activities:

  • developing a cross-cutting portfolio of grants on security and rights, in coordination with Human Rights Initiative team members and other Open Society Foundations and Network programs.
  • engaging across related rights issues, including due process rights and right to liberty, the right to privacy, and freedom of association and expression.
  • identifying opportunities for collaboration, coalition-building and networking among partners and grantees.
  • developing programming that reflects geographic diversity and a range of perspectives.
  • collaborating with the Open Society Foundations’ geographic and thematic programs and identifies opportunities for co-funding for broader impact.

Application Instructions:  Please include a cover letter and a resume, and upload these as one document.

Work Environment and Physical Demands:

Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations, and we welcome and actively seek applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.

Location: The role can be based in London, Budapest, New York, or Washington DC



Candidate Profile

  • bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study or equivalent experience/education, with 7-10 years of progressively responsible experience which includes work in the field of human rights and with civil society.
  • demonstrated experience in working to influence how rights are upheld in the context of national security policy.
  • significant understanding of how actors from diverging perspectives operate in this space and capacity to identify diverse stakeholders and leverage points for affecting change.
  • substantial knowledge of the international human rights arena and mechanisms
  • ability to operate diplomatically among a range of stakeholders, including those from civil society, government, national security bodies, the media, and broader public circles. 
  • excellent writing, analytical, interpersonal, organizational and communication skills required. Sensitivity to cultural differences is essential.
  • language skills, in addition to excellent spoken and written English, area plus, with a preference for French or Arabic


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