I Want to Work in ...... Human Rights
- General background
- Sites with listings of internships and voluntary opportunities
- Work in Human Rights law firms
- Other organisations specialising in Human Rights law
- Postgraduate Study in Human Rights
Human Rights is a very varied employment sector with no clearly defined career paths, entry points, routes and structure.
Opportunities may arise in central and local government bodies; international governmental and non-governmental organisations; charities, pressure groups and campaigning organisations; academia and law.
There is a huge variety of roles, including research, marketing, public relations, fundraising, finance, investigation, administration, lobbying and education.
Whatever role you are interested in, and whatever your qualifications, getting into Human Rights work is highly competitive. You will need to have relevant experience, which is generally gained on a voluntary basis, through internships or other involvement with a human rights organisation.
- Human Rights Careers Wiki: University of St Andrews www.st-andrews.ac.uk/careers/wiki/Human_Rights
- Human Rights Careers from AllAboutCareers www.allaboutcareers.com/careers/career-path/human-rights
- Working in the Human Rights Field: LSE careers blog http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/careers/2014/01/29/working-in-the-human-rights-field/
- Amnesty International www.amnesty.org.uk/jobs We have about 170 staff working in a wide range of roles from campaigning to marketing and from finance to human resources. We run a volunteer programme in our offices in London, Edinburgh , Belfast and Cardiff . Volunteers are involved in a lot of different roles in campaigning, marketing, media and general support.
- Human Rights Watch https://careers.hrw.org Human Rights Watch is an independent, international organization that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all. Our staff consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.
- Liberty www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk Recruits volunteers to work in administrative support, helping with the day-to-day work of our operations, membership, campaigns and/or media teams, and advice and Information, helping us respond to written queries from the public about their rights (you need a law degree for this one, but anyone legally qualified can apply)
- Amicus www.amicus-alj.org UK charity which aims to help provide legal representation for those awaiting capital trial and punishment in the US and raise awareness of potential abuses of their rights. Offers internships in the USA.
- British Institute of Human Rights www.bihr.org.uk
An independent charity based in London which raises awareness and understanding about the importance of human rights.
- The Danish Institute for Human Rights www.humanrights.dk
- Derechos Human Rights www.derechos.org International organisation working for the respect and promotion of human rights throughout the world. The site includes links to NGOs, directories, international organisations.
- FIDH www.fidh.org Worldwide international human rights NGO federating 178 organizations from 120 countries. Offers internships.
- The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute offers unpaid internships to undergraduate and postgraduate law students and to graduates at the IBA offices in London, The Hague and Washington DC. www.ibanet.org/Education_and_Internships/Legal_Internship_Programme.aspx
- Islamic Human Rights Commission www.ihrc.org.uk
Research, campaign and advocacy organisation which offers volunteer experience in research and admin roles.
- Peace Brigades International www.peacebrigades.org.uk
Promotes non-violent peace-building solutions in situations of violent conflict and repression, offering unarmed protective accompaniment to individuals, organisations, and communities threatened with violence and human rights abuses. Opportunities for volunteers both in the filed and in country offices.
- Redress www.redress.org/internships-/internships
Recruits legal interns to work on a variety of assignments related to seeking reparation for torture survivors
- Rights and Humanity www.rightsandhumanity.org
Liverpool-based organisation which promotes respect for human rights as a foundation for global economic and social justice and human development. Recruits postgraduate interns www.rightsandhumanity.org/achievements/education-and-training/post-graduate-interns.html
- Survival www.survivalinternational.org
Works for tribal peoples' rights through education, advocacy and campaigns. Recruits volunteers, staff and interns.
- The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture www.freedomfromtorture.org the only UK organisation dedicated solely to the treatment of torture survivors. Offers a medico-legal report writing service.
- United Nations Human Rights page www.un.org/en/sections/what-we-do/protect-human-rights/index.html
- Human Rights Internet www.hri.ca Canadian-based online resource, information and documentation centre for human rights actors and organizations, as well as interested individuals, around the world.
- Human Rights Careers www.humanrightscareers.com
- Do-It www.do-it.org.uk search for volunteer opportunities in Human and Civil Rights by geographical location in the UK .
- www.idealist.org over 56,000 not-for-profit and community organisations in 165 countries, which you can search or browse by name, location, or mission for volunteer opportunities, jobs and internships.
Work in law firms and other organisations specialising in Human Rights law:
The Human Rights Act has resulted in some very high profile and specialist cases. However many firms have long worked in the field of civil liberties which covers a very broad range of work, such as discrimination, actions against the police, mental health etc and can overlap with other areas, such as immigration, employment etc.
Human Rights is a niche field and highly competitive to get into. Students will need to show a commitment to this area by involvement with related organisations, usually through voluntary work with organisations who work in this area. A postgraduate degree in Human Rights law may also be helpful (see below).
As the Law Society requires trainee solicitors to gain experience in at least three areas of law, you cannot specialise in Human Rights from the beginning of your legal career. When applying for training contracts it helps to be as flexible as possible.
Few firms specialising in Human Rights law will recruit trainees more than a year in advance, and most will recruit people once they have completed their LPC. This may involve starting employment as a paralegal before progressing to a training contract.
- Human Rights Law: area of practice (TARGET Jobs)
Some well-known firms in this area which recruit trainee solicitors – see firms' websites for full details:
- Bhatt Murphy www.bhattmurphy.co.uk
- Bindmans LLP www.bindmans.com which specializes in human rights law, criminal law and clinical negligence. As well as trainees they “often have short, medium, or long-term requirements for Paralegal work”.
- Birnberg Pierce www.birnbergpeirce.co.uk
- Deighton Pierce Glynnwww.dpglaw.co.uk
- Hickman & Rose www.hickmanandrose.co.uk Expertise in human rights cases arising out of the criminal justice system. Offers work experience: selection is by a lottery held twice a year.
- Hodge Jones & Allen www.hodgejonesallen.co.uk
- Leigh Day & Co www.leighday.co.uk/Asserting-your-rights/Human-rights
- Public Interest Lawyers http://pil.uk.net Offices in Birmingham and London: has conducted cases in Nepal, India, Palestine, Uganda, Kenya, Afghanistan and Iraq.
For details of other firms practising human rights law, see:
- Chambers & Partners www.chambersandpartners.com/11805/10/editorial/1/1
- Find a Solicitor (Law Society). You can search for solicitors by area of law including civil liberties and human rights.
Some well-known barristers' chambers in this area which offer pupillages – see websites for full details:
- Blackstone Chambers www.blackstonechambers.com
- Doughty Street Chambers www.doughtystreet.co.uk
- Garden Court Chambers www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk
- Mansfield Chambers www.mansfieldchambers.co.uk
- Matrix Chambers www.matrixlaw.co.uk
- For details of other sets specialising in this area, see www.chambersandpartners.com/11841/10/editorial/14/2
Presentations on working at the Human Rights Bar given at National Pupillage Fairs:
You can find other firms and chambers practising in this field by searching the following sites:
- The Law Society site will help you to find law firms specialising in human rights work: You can search for solicitors by area of law which includes civil liberties and human rights.
- Bar Human Rights Committee www.barhumanrights.org.uk
- Human Rights Lawyers Association www.hrla.org.uk open to all connected with the law and the legal professions who have an interest in human rights law in the United Kingdom, including pupils, trainees and law students. Membership is free for law students/trainees, and might offer some valuable contacts
- Justice www.justice.org.uk an all-party law reform and human rights organisation working to improve the legal system and the quality of justice by promoting human rights and through other activities. Offers summer and winter internships and other voluntary positions for law graduates.
- Solicitors International Human Rights Group
- Woman Aid International www.womenaid.org humanitarian aid and development agency which, among other activities, campaigns against violations of women's human rights. Offers a six-month Human Rights Internship, open to law graduates. www.womenaid.org/humanrights/contentsfram.htm
There are a number of Human Rights courses available in the UK and internationally, and new courses begin every year. Some of these are LLM (Masters in Law) degrees which focus on the legal aspects of human rights, but which are not always restricted to Law graduates. Others are open to graduates from a wide range of disciplines.
- University of Kent LLM Human Rights Law www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/772/human-rights-law
- University of Essex, Human Rights Centre, Colchester www.essex.ac.uk/hrc
- Queen Mary College , University of London, LLM in Human Rights Law www.law.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/items/138032.html
- London School of Economics Centre for the Study of Human Rights www.lse.ac.uk/humanRights/home.aspx
- University College London MA Human Rights www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/teaching/masters/ma-human-rights
- University of London, School of Advanced Study MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights www.sas.ac.uk/hrc/graduate-study/ma-human-rights
- University of London, SOAS MA Human Rights Law www.soas.ac.uk/law/programmes/ma/mahumrightslaw
- University of Manchester MA Human Rights – Political Science
- University of Nottingham, LLM Human Rights Law www.nottingham.ac.uk/pgstudy/courses/law/human-rights-law-llm.aspx
- University of Sussex Interdisciplinary MA in Human Rights www.sussex.ac.uk/study/pg/2016/taught/1590/33279
- University of York MA Applied Human Rights www.york.ac.uk/cahr/studying/postgraduate/ma
- University of Strathclyde LLM Human Rights Law www.strath.ac.uk/courses/postgraduatetaught/humanrightslaw
- Queen's University, Belfast LLM Human Rights www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/Study/PostgraduateTaught/llm-human-rights
- National University of Ireland , Galway LLM International Human Rights
- Leiden University, Netherlands Advanced Masters European and International Human Rights Law
Other pages of interest on this site
- I Want to Work for a Charity www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/charity.htm
- I Want to Work In International Development www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/developing.htm
- I Want to Work for an International Organisation www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/internationalorg.htm
Last fully updated 2016