Asia Program Officer

International Advocacy & Litigation

Reporting to: VP International Advocacy & Litigation

Full-Time, Exempt

Salary Range: $84,000-$94,000

Location: Washington, DC

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) seeks a Program Officer in the International Advocacy & Litigation program to coordinate and execute the organization’s work throughout South and Southeast Asia. In partnership with human rights defenders and organizations on the ground, the Program Officer will lead the work on accountability for serious human rights violations and on protecting civic space in the region through advocacy, strategic litigation, and technical assistance. The Program Officer will work closely with the VP of International Advocacy and Litigation to design and implement the organization’s regional strategy.

International Advocacy & Litigation Program:

Our team of lawyers and issue experts collaborate with partners worldwide to create lasting legal change. Through legal advocacy, we have freed political prisoners, defended the rule of law in autocratic regimes, and amplified the voices of human rights defenders in the United States and abroad. We present the annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, which recognizes a courageous individual whose activism reflects Robert Kennedy’s belief that every individual can make a difference. The award’s recipients enter multi-year partnerships with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, anchoring our advocacy work and strengthening activists’ ability to make the world more just and peaceful.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Develop and implement the advocacy and litigation agenda for the protection of human rights in South and Southeast Asia in support of local human rights defenders and movements. The role has a particular focus on Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

  • Manage current and establish new relationships with advocacy and litigation partners and other human rights defenders in Asia to ensure RFKHR efforts support their vision and goals;

  • Foster and help coordinate human rights coalitions focused on South and Southeast Asian countries to strengthen ongoing efforts and innovative initiatives to protect human rights and promote accountability in the region.

  • Manage projects in several countries in the region, including through sub-grants and emergency assistance grants.

  • Develop and lead special initiatives related to the portfolio, including research and capacity-building projects.

  • In coordination with the International A&L team and other NGOs, prepare recommendations for individual targeted sanctions and other forms of accountability for serious human rights violations, as well as for the broader strengthening of international human rights accountability as it pertains to the region and the focus countries.

  • Research, draft, and publicize reports, briefing papers, letters, news releases, op-eds, and submissions to regional and international bodies. Present human rights concerns and other advocacy before government officials, opinion leaders, intergovernmental agencies, and the media.

  • Liaise effectively with RFKHR staff and affiliates in multiple locations throughout the world to ensure effective coordination and collaboration; support other staff and affiliates to address Asia-related issues in their work.

  • Supervise and mentor incoming legal fellows and interns.

  • Assist with the organization’s fundraising efforts.

  • Participate in fact-finding trips to document human rights violations and oversee delegation planning and execution;

  • Travel domestically and internationally for up to one or two weeks at a time, several times a year.

  • Work flexible hours as needed to accommodate developing and urgent events.

  • All new staff will undergo an introductory period of three (3) months as a training and learning period;

  • Do your part in keeping our operations running smoothly – tracking your hours and submitting timecards in a timely manner.

  • Carry out any other duties as required.


  • Education: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in law, political science, international relations, social sciences, or related field.

  • Experience: A minimum of 5 years working in the human rights space, as well as supervision and project management experience;

  • Authorization to work in the United States is required;

  • Professional ties and/or experience in South or South-East Asia region;

  • Advocacy experience, e.g. leveraging U.S. foreign policy, inter-governmental bodies, and/or public-facing campaigns;

  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically about the global and local media environments and how to use the media and electronic media to further advocacy goals; and

  • Field research and documentation skills.

  • Demonstrated ability to coordinate efforts internally with colleagues and with outside partners;

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English;

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team to develop and implement realistic and effective local and international advocacy strategies and tactics in order to identify and seize advocacy opportunities;

  • Ability to produce high-quality written material under tight deadlines;

  • Attention to detail – excellent editing skills and ability to scope out errors and proactively fix mistakes;

  • Dynamic public speaking ability;

  • High level of integrity and discretion in handling confidential information;

  • Strong interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively across cultural dynamics within RFKHR as well as with clients, local partners, government officials, and media partners;

  • Inclusive: you are excited to work with colleagues with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives from your own.

Preferred but not required qualifications:

  • J.D. or foreign equivalent, human rights litigation experience before domestic courts and/or regional or universal human rights bodies;

  • Knowledge and experience with individual sanction regimes (e.g. Global Magnitsky)

  • Additional communication skills in Hindi, Bengali, or other South or southeastern Asia languages are a plus;

Benefits and other Perks:

  • We value your health: RFK Human Rights covers 100% of individual-only costs of our platinum medical, dental, vision benefits and subsidizes the cost for dependent coverage and alternative medical plan options;

  • We understand the importance of financial planning and saving we provide:
    • An automatic contribution of 7% of your salary after your first year of employment;

    • A College Saveup/Loan PayDown program with an automatic $200/monthly contribution for any current loans or future loans;

    • An automatic monthly cell phone & internet speed stipend of $125/monthly to offset any phone & internet expenses;

  • We value your growth: RFK Human Rights provides an annual $2,000 professional development stipend to all full-time staff to use towards any courses, conferences, or trainings that would further one’s professional learning and development. As well professional development days/hours to complete these courses.

  • Flexibility and independence to help manage your work and home life: We have a hybrid office model where staffers come into the office 2-3 times a week depending on work needs and team planning.
    • Employees receive a $1,000 benefits card each calendar year to use towards food and home & life purchases to help support work from home needs.

    • You also receive a one-time $500 remote supplies fund that staffers can use at their discretion to have work from home space that is comfortable & workable when you need it.

    • We hold weekly Summer Fridays between Memorial Day to Labor Day where our offices close half day each Friday so you can enjoy some extra long weekends.

  • We love to celebrate human rights advocates and our hard work! We do so by hosting award ceremonies, galas, summer outings, holiday parties, potlucks, domestic and international staff retreats, and spur-of-the-moment social outings.

How to Apply:

  • Submit your resume and cover letter to [email protected] with “Your Name + Asia Program Officer” in the subject heading.

  • In your cover letter please include how you heard about this role and why you are interested in this position.

No phone calls please. RFK Human Rights will contact qualified candidates directly.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and believes we are stronger and more effective by working internally and externally with people of all abilities, diverse backgrounds, and a range of perspectives, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or underrepresented. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. We do not discriminate in our hiring practices and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seek a diverse applicant pool. If you’re in need of an accommodation at any time during the application and hiring process please contact us by emailing your request to [email protected] with the subj. line “Accommodation Request”. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Having documents in alternate formats or read aloud

  • Having interviews in a more accessible location/format