RFK Center - Defending Human Rights In This World
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Donald M. Wilson Fellowship

In 2011, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights established the Donald M. Wilson Fellowship program to provide a position at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights to one outstanding recent law school graduate each year. Donald Wilson and his family recognized the need for greater support for recent graduates who wish to devote their professional lives to public service and generously endowed the Fellowship program at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

The fellowship carries the name of the prominent magazine journalist who developed a close friendship with Robert Kennedy during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. A LIFE magazine correspondent for twelve years, Donald Wilson covered the Korean and Vietnam wars for the magazine and afterward led LIFE’s Washington, D.C., bureau, where he met Robert Kennedy. Following the campaign, Donald Wilson was appointed deputy director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) and served under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1989, he retired as Corporate Vice President-Public Affairs at Time Inc. In 1991, with James L. Greenfield, a former assistant managing editor at The New York Times, he founded the Independent Journalism Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to promoting free and independent media in Eastern and Central Europe and Southeast Asia. The RFK Donald Wilson Fellowship provides invaluable training and experience for a recent law school graduate preparing for a career in human rights.


Duties include, but are not limited to:

• Conduct factual research and draft memoranda on the human rights situation in countries of interest to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and on thematic issues (e.g., the right to freedom of expression, right to nationality)

• Conduct research on the application of international human rights norms to country conditions, developments in the domestic legal systems of specific countries and their implications for human rights, and other questions

• Prepare documents in support of litigation before international tribunals (e.g. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, UN Treaty Bodies), and in support of advocacy before governments, international organizations, and U.N. special procedures

• Help maintain and manage communication with clients, human rights defenders, and civil society partners around the world in support of joint litigation and advocacy

• Participate in and contribute to litigation and advocacy strategies;

• Attend and report on briefings, Congressional hearings, symposia and other meetings

• Monitor sources of information on countries and issues of concern to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and collect, organize and analyze relevant information

• Work closely with the RFK Partners for Human Rights Executive Director and programmatic staff to develop long-term strategies, legal actions, and advocacy campaigns to support RFK Laureates and other human rights defenders

• Provide administrative support to staff on an as-needed basis

• Limited travel (domestic and/or international) may also be required.

For more information about Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, please visit: http://www.rfkcenter.org.


The ideal candidate will have experience with regional and international human rights law and norms; working knowledge of the United Nations treaty body system and/or the regional human rights mechanisms (e.g. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, etc.); working knowledge of domestic legislative and human rights systems; an ability to maintain active contacts with international civil society as well as key stakeholders in the aforementioned systems; an ability to master complex human rights issues under tight deadlines; and excellent written and verbal communication skills.

A Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree (or foreign equivalent) is required. We particularly encourage recent law school graduates (2013-2014) and those graduating in Spring 2015 to apply. 

Fluency in Spanish, French, and/or Arabic is helpful but not required.


Location: Washington, D.C.

Annual Salary: $45,000 + excellent benefits package

Deadline: February 16, 2015


Please e-mail a cover letter, resume, brief writing sample (preferably related to international human rights law), and a list of 3 references to:

Hiring Manager

Subject line: Donald M. Wilson Fellow

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Please note, due to the high volume of applications received, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will only be able to contact shortlisted candidates with regard to the interview process. No calls or emails, please.


“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Robert F. Kennedy
Capetown, June 6th 1966