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Amnesty International – International Secretariat

Senior Director – Research, Advocacy and Policy

Amnesty International campaigns for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. In this leadership role for the International Secretariat, the Senior Director for Research, Advocacy and Policy will support the organisation as it moves towards a new organisational model. This is an exciting role for a prominent human rights leader to help shape the future of Amnesty International as it decentralises and strengthens the expertise and capacity for the Amnesty International movement worldwide.

About Amnesty International – International Secretariat

The International Secretariat (IS), which operates from a number of sites around the world, gathers and communicates accurate and action-oriented human rights information globally. It campaigns for meaningful human rights change, enables effective human rights activism, and works to persuade governments and other actors to uphold universal human rights standards. The IS provides strategic leadership, support and advice to the Amnesty International (AI) movement, fostering AI’s contribution, presence and public accountability throughout the world.

Amnesty International is undergoing a change programme refocusing the organisation’s structure to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation’s work and impacts whilst delivering cost-saving measures. By the end of 2020, we anticipate to increase our aim of decentralisation and strengthen the expertise and capacity of the movement.

The organisational culture underpins everything we do and is pivotal to the success of our impact. It represents how we behave, our working relationships and our ability to collaborate as a movement. Five behaviours form the basis of our culture: Accountable, Considerate, Creative, Decisive, and Respectful

About the Role

The Senior Director – Research, Advocacy and Policy (RAP), reports to the Secretary-General and line manages:

  • Programme Directors: Crisis Response, Research & Advocacy, Law and Policy, Amnesty Tech, and Transnational Strategies. 
  • National Office Leads and other senior advisors. 
  • Support staff, volunteers and/or consultants as required.

As a member of the Coalition Leadership Team (CLT), the Senior Director (SD) will take collective responsibility for the leadership, management and development of the organisation. In the immediate short to medium term, this will include leading the move to the new organisational model. 

Duties and Responsibilities

Directorate and Agenda Leadership

  • Lead the transition of the Research and International Law & Policy directorates into part of a single directorate with a leaner and more strategic leadership team, and provide guidance for the delegation of some management responsibilities to Programme Directors and their teams. 
  • Ensure the quality of directorate staff and work enables strategy, research, analysis, reporting, and legal and policy work of the highest standard by ensuring the consistent implementation of agreed standards across outputs and locations. This includes quality assurance across all research and law and policy outputs.
  • Oversee the establishment and maintenance of legal and advocacy standards and policies, and take the lead in policing global AI compliance with these standards and policies.
  • Oversee the organisation’s crisis response to emerging human rights situations, particularly armed conflict and other emergencies, ensuring the quick deployment of relevant staff to enable the movement to take prompt and effective action. 
  • Act as the interim lead during the management process across all programmes in the Research & Policy (RAP) directorate once it is finalised.

Spokesperson and Advocate

  • Act as a key spokesperson, ambassador and actor on the global human rights and political stage on behalf of AI. 
  • Maintain a strong public profile through engagement in high-level advocacy in capitals, at regional meetings and before UN bodies when required. 

Strategy, Planning, and Evaluation

  • Feed into the CLT’s strategic planning process to turn the Strategic Plan into an operational international agenda. 
  • Collaborate with the Strategy & Impact programme to maintain a clear framework and methodology for consistently defining, assessing and measuring impact and outcomes of AI’s work. This framework should be the mechanism for assuring the quality of our work across the movement.

Operational Efficiency

  • Oversee the changes to staff and structure as part of the current consultation process. 
  • Lead the development and support the implementation of best practice, high quality, and ethical research, legal, and policy standards ensuring cross-fertilisation. 
  • Lead the directorate’s effective cooperation, coordination with, and contribution to the
  • work of other IS directorates and programmes.
  • Anticipate and resolve dependencies across the directorate. 
  • Communicate key issues and concerns effectively. 
  • Ensure effective management of the directorate’s programmes, including: operational planning, resource allocation and reporting, support and performance management, budgetary planning, management, and strategic input and guidance on research areas. 

Organisation-Wide Responsibility

  • Lead by example and ensure that AI values, standards and priorities are implemented and adhered to. 
  • Manage significant integration of functions and ensure coherence across different functional areas.
  • Ensure that strong management support is provided to all staff, which operate effectively in a matrix environment with globally distributed teams
  • Participate in the management of the IS, and ensure collective responsibility for the impact AI has on human rights matters.
  • Participate and lead consultation meetings with teams and individual staff. 
  • Develop and take responsibility for the internal effectiveness of AI to contribute to:
  • The development of the organisation’s strategic and operational plans, including its financial and risk management strategies. 
  • The evaluation of systems and operations and assessment of AI’s impact. 
  • Effective internal and external communications.

Transition Period

  • Lead and manage the change and transition programme within the components of the Movement Empowerment & Support directorate. 
  • Work with Programme and Regional directors and staff to effect the changes and ensure coherent plans are in place to preserve institutional learning and transition to the new working model as appropriate.
  • Contribute to the strategic design of the new directorate during the consultation process.

Skills and Experience


  • Senior leadership experience gained within a global organisation which has a diverse range of national and cultural settings including working on and/or with an international board.
  • Extensive experience managing and leading within a matrixed organisational structure. 
  • Knowledge and experience of building and managing innovative and geographically distributed teams.
  • Proven ability in change management or experience at the senior-level during organisational change.
  • Acknowledged and proven expertise in the field of international human rights and international humanitarian law research and action, with a relevant academic qualification and/or outstanding senior field experience.
  • High-quality and proven knowledge and analytical understanding of human rights and international humanitarian law, policies and issues.
  • Demonstrated skills in both short and long-term analyses of global, regional and/or country-level political landscapes, familiarity with the dynamics of intergovernmental relationships and their impact on human rights.
  • Proven ability to represent the organisation at a high level, in public and private meetings with governments, intergovernmental organisations, media, and local, national and regional human rights bodies.
  • Global understanding of geo-politics.
  • Demonstrated experience and capability as a cogent and authoritative “leading edge” thinker and innovator who can influence the direction of AI while maintaining an active network of high-level contacts in governments, NGOs and the media.
  • Written and verbal fluency in English and in one or more additional languages.


  • Experience of living and working in a related field of expertise in the Global South.
  • Fluency in Arabic, French or Spanish. 
  • Well-versed in knowledge management and shared learning principles and systems.
  • To be of international renown in the field.