Attorney, Defending Defenders Program - Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW)

Post Date: 3/09/2023
Opportunity Type: Job
Organization/Grantor: Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW)
Position/Title/Fund: Attorney, Defending Defenders Program - Full-time
Deadline: March 31, 2023
Location: Eugene, Oregon

ELAW is accepting applications for an experienced attorney to join its Defending Defenders Program. This is an exciting opportunity to work with public interest lawyers around the world to protect the rights of communities and the environment. ELAW collaborates with lawyers representing local communities and NGOs to build a sustainable, just future. ELAW's global partners are bringing innovative legal actions challenging the status quo and addressing complex environmental problems.

ELAW’s Defending Defenders Program supports environmental defenders around the world to work without fear of reprisal. Environmental defenders play an important role in securing a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Because their work challenges powerful economic and political interests, they often face risks or threats. For individuals, these threats include criminalization, stigmatization, surveillance, harassment, threats, and/or acts of physical violence – including torture and murder – and bogus criminal charges and civil actions (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation - SLAPP suits). Defenders also face attacks against their organizations, such as burdensome registration and reporting requirements, restrictions on funding, and other regressive laws and regulations.  These intersecting forms of exclusion, violence, and discrimination impact defenders’ work, wellbeing, and enjoyment of a wide array of fundamental rights, such as their rights to opinion, expression, participation, liberty, physical and mental health, personal integrity, family, privacy, and safety, among many more. 

This position will focus on accompanying our public interest lawyer colleagues who request support. Accompaniment may include funding for legal representation, strategic referrals to protection specialists, and support for emotional and physical well-being and resiliency. The attorney will respond to specific needs and requests and connect the defender to resources and allies. The attorney may also support the defender by engaging with domestic, regional, and international courts and other legal mechanisms to seek accountability for past violations, findings of fact and decisions from specialized human rights bodies, high-level statements from UN experts and/or regional human rights bodies, and redress from international and regional bodies.  The attorney may also support advocacy around strengthening and expanding the legal protections and frameworks providing protection and recognition for Indigenous, land, and environmental defenders as a means of risk prevention. 

Responsibilities and Scope of Position:

  • Conduct legal research and analysis to support lawyers defending communities and the environment globally; 
  • Draft legal communications and letters to international fora, including human rights mechanisms, embassies, and other audiences as needed;
  • Develop and implement legal advocacy strategies, informed by the local context;
  • Understanding of risk assessments and implementation of these considerations into legal strategy;
  • Work closely with defenders to develop strategic actions to address risks and/or threats, informed by the local context;
  • Adhere to confidentiality and digital protection protocols;
  • Build and foster relationships with international partners and allies;
  • Organize and participate in workshops and other remote/in-person meetings to share information and develop advocacy strategies; 
  • Review work by Defending Defender Program colleagues; and 
  • Collaborate with ELAW colleagues on communications, development, and other activities that support the organization, our partners, and allies.