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Protection International

Executive Director

About Protection International

Protection International (PI) is an international network of not-for-profit organizations that supports human rights defenders in developing their security and protection management strategies, with a head office registered in Belgium that has been working since 2004 with local partners in over thirty countries across the globe. In many parts of the world, the defence of human rights evokes risks, threats, and attacks from state and non-state actors. PI works with human rights defenders and local human rights movements to prevent and counter these through action-research, advocacy, awareness-raising, capabilities strengthening, providing financial support, building networks and alliances, and supporting risk management. PI tailors its approach to the contexts and circumstances of defenders at risk. 

PI is currently implementing a five-year global strategy (2019-2023) in which it is transforming itself into a network of Regional Protection Hubs supported by a global team based in Brussels. This transformation is aimed at creating a regional and decentralised structure that enables PI to react quickly to the needs of defenders on the ground, build more and stronger alliances in each region, and reinforce the capacity of local teams. PI currently works in Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. The organization has Regional Protection Hubs in Nairobi and Guatemala and its international operations are supported by a global team based in Brussels.  

About the Role

The Executive Director is responsible for the overall strategy and leadership of Protection International. The Executive Director leads PI’s entities in developing and implementing its five-year global strategies, ensuring commitment, coordination, and alignment amongst PI’s entities.

The Executive Director maintains strong relationships with a diverse range of stakeholders and sets the tone for internal and external interactions. The Executive Director is expected to exemplify PI’s values of solidarity with defenders, grassroots ethos, commitment to human rights, participatory decision-making, accountability and integrity, and creativity and learning. The Executive Director must uphold high ethical standards and demonstrate respect for diversity and inclusivity. The person is expected to build consensus, harness the expertise of experienced colleagues, and foster an environment of teamwork, accountability, and excellence.

The Executive Director reports directly to the Board of Protection International. The Executive Director leads PI’s global team and support’s PI regional directors in leading and managing their Regional Protection Hubs.

Duties and Responsibilities

Strategic Direction and Alignment

  • Leads PI’s entities in developing and implementing its five-year Global Strategies 
  • Guides change management processes to ensure that organisational structures, systems and processes align with PI’s global strategies
  • Provides guidance to staff to ensure that PI achieves organisational goals and mitigates organizational risks.

Leading and Managing People and Operations

  • Leads PI’s Global Team with the support of the Management Team
  • Supports PI Regional Directors in the leadership and management of Regional Protection Hubs
  • Manages staff focused on advocacy, communications, information technology, and human resources
  • Ensures meaningful monitoring and evaluation of PI programmes are conducted in line with strategic goals
  • Promotes, facilitate and coordinates the flow of information and communication across PI entities
  • Acts as legal representative of PI AISBL

International Advocacy and Networking

  • Keeps abreast of significant developments and trends in the field of the security and protection of human rights defenders at risk
  • Builds and maintains effective alliances with strategic partners
  • Represents PI, ensuring its role within the global protection architecture is understood, through direct engagement with decision-makers, civil society, human rights defenders, and other stakeholders
  • Mobilizes and sustains resources to support PI’s mission, advancing the development of new funding streams and broadening PI’s donor base

Skills and Experience

  • A degree in relevant disciplines, such as law, international relation and human rights, management studies – or equivalent experience
  • Five or more years of managerial experience at the Executive level – or equivalent experience at the senior management level, preferably of a middle-sized international NGO
  • Experience and skills working with a Board of Directors on organisational governance
  • Demonstrated experience in financial management including budgeting, forecasting and reviewing financial reports for internal and external stakeholders
  • Fundraising experience with a range of donors, including governments and private foundations
  • Strong writing and communications skills, including the ability to be the public face and voice of the organization
  • Ability to network and interact comfortably with stakeholders at different levels (staff, international organizations, donors, auditors, and the NGO and HRD communities)
  • Ability and willingness to reside in Belgium for a minimum of 12 months and to travel internationally
  • International field experience in challenging environments is desirable
  • Knowledge of Belgium’s legal and administrative framework for an international non-profit association is desirable
  • Fluency in English is necessary with Spanish and/or French desirable


  • Proven commitment to human rights and an understanding of human rights defenders work and challenges;
  • A team player, facilitator, consensus seeker, with strong interpersonal skills, and a track record of successful team leadership, change management and conflict resolution;
  • Strong people-management skills, humility and empathy in dealing with partners from a variety of backgrounds and the ability to gain the respect of staff, external peers and partners;
  • Ability to manage crises calmly and demonstrate courage in decision making while showing respect and consideration of perspectives by different parties;
  • Sensitivity to issues relating to human resources management, diversity, gender equality, and the ability to work across diverse cultures with keen awareness of implicit bias; 
  • Dynamic and flexible, with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to be part of a growing international organisation;
  • Resourceful and able to find cost-effective, creative solutions to address complex challenges and strengthen the organization’s operational capacity.