Human Rights Engagement Consultant

  • Contract
  • Remote
  • TBD USD / Year
  • Salary: TBD

UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Terms of Reference

Human Rights Engagement Consultant

UNHCR/Human Rights Liaison Unit– Division of International Protection (DIP)

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is offering this consultancy within the Division of International Protection in our Geneva Headquarters in Switzerland***.***

UNHCR is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. Every year, millions of men, women and children are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. We are in over 125 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.

**Title :**Human Rights Engagement Consultant: Research on scope for enhancement of UNHCR’s human rights engagement, including in light of the UN Call to Action on Human Rights and the Agenda for Protection

Duty Station: Home-Based

Duration: Task-Based Assignment (over 3 months)

Contract Type: Individual Consultancy

Start date: 1 November 2022

Closing Date: 06 October 2022

Organisational context

The Human Rights Liaison Unit is part of the PPLA Section in the Division of International Protection (Service 1 – Policy & Law). The Unit aims at promoting the effective use of international human rights law and UN human rights mechanisms to strengthen the protection of persons of concern to UNHCR.


The goal of the Human Rights Liaison Unit is three-fold. Firstly, to contribute to human rights standards setting as relevant, and advocate for the inclusion of protection issues related to refugees, asylum-seekers, IDPs, stateless persons and returnees into legal instruments, policy documents, recommendations and other outcome documents of the Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Bodies and the UN Special Procedures. Secondly, to contribute to the mainstreaming of human rights into all areas of UNHCR’s work and promote the effective use of human rights law, mechanisms and advocacy as complementary protection tools for UNHCR operations. Thirdly, to function as the liaisons between UNHCR and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to strengthen human rights approaches and ensure continuous exchange of relevant information.


In support of the above-mentioned goal, the Unit leads and supports DIP’s efforts, as appropriate, to ensure that:

  • The protection of displaced and stateless persons is complemented and strengthened through the use and application of human rights standards.
  • Substantive resolutions of the Human Rights Council, reports and recommendations issued by Special Procedures, the General Comments and General Recommendations of the Treaty Monitoring Bodies, and other standard setting instruments are consistent with and contribute to the progressive development of international refugee law and to the enhancement of the protection of persons of concern.
  • Asylum-seekers, refugees, IDPs, returnees and stateless persons, and information about the extent to which they enjoy their rights, are systematically addressed in Treaty Body Concluding Observations and General Comments/Recommendations, Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations, reports of Special Procedures mandate holders, and by OHCHR and by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in statements and interventions.
  • UNHCR operational colleagues are able to effectively utilize human rights law and standards, as well as human rights mechanisms, to enhance protection through advocacy and direct interventions, including through the development of guidance, tools and capacity building initiatives on human rights, as well as unique support in particular cases.
  • Cooperation with the diverse human rights bodies results in the adoption of specific concluding observations, recommendations, resolutions and reports, which benefit country operations and specific protection situations.
  • The rights of asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless persons, internally displaced persons and returnees, as set out in the international human rights treaties, are promoted in a non-discriminatory manner.
  • In close partnership with OHCHR and in cooperation with UN agencies, human rights strategies and approaches are consolidated and joint advocacy and interventions are taken in support of the promotion of human rights of persons of concern, when appropriate and relevant.

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations

To view occupational safety and health considerations for specific duty stations, please visit this link:

Specific Occupational Safety and Health Considerations to this assignment (if applicable):

The successful candidate will work from home and be remotely connected to the Human Rights Liaison Unit team in Geneva. The candidate needs to be available for meetings during regular work hours in the CET time zone.

The consultancy

In 2020, the Secretary-General (SG) launched the Call to Action for Human Rights: The Highest Aspiration. The Call to Action (C2A) reiterates that human rights must be at the heart of all UN action, including in times of crisis, and provides momentum to deepen and advance the centrality of protection in practice. The C2A implementation is now entering its 2nd phase, which is focusing on country level implementation.

The vision of UNHCR, in taking forward the C2A, is to support field colleagues in making the best use of the human rights systems to effectively advance the protection of people of concern. It aims to do this by facilitating the integration of human rights approaches into protection and advocacy strategies and other operational engagements; and to promote the strategic use of international human rights law and the UN human rights system to ensure the inclusion and protection of affected populations. Building strong partnerships around human rights is at the heart of UNHCR’s Human Rights Engagement Strategy.

Within this context, the Agenda for Protection is a concrete output envisaged under the C2A’s Times in Crisis pillar and is of particular importance for UNHCR. An updated version is under discussion and expected to be released in forthcoming months; if released during the timeline of this consultancy, it may provide additional opportunities and guidance for the recommendations to be proposed.

This home-based consultancy aims to survey UNHCR existing practices, as well as challenges and opportunities for greater human rights engagement in field operations, and provide basic recommendations to DIP/ HRLU on how to increase support to UNHCR operations in their human rights engagement and in leveraging the Call to Action, and eventually the updated Agenda for Protection, to enhance the protection of persons under UNHCR’s mandate.

Duties and responsibilities

This consultancy aims to conduct research into existing UNHCR practices (including where a human rights-based approach has been taken to UNHCR’s activities or where human rights principles or have been incorporated in UNHCR’s policies and/or programming), as well as opportunities and challenges to undertaking greater human rights focused approaches at the field level to provide greater protection. After an initial desk-based research of existing tools, documentation, and practices, research will be primarily conducted via interviews that will be organized by the consultant with identified stakeholders within the Organization at the field, regional and HQ levels, as well as with limited numbers of external persons. Interviews will be conducted with approximately 20 persons within these categories.

The expected output of the consultancy will be an internal report of approximately 25-30 pages in English, which: a) briefly synthesizes, in 1-2 pages, existing tools, resources and guidance on promoting a human rights-based approach to UNHCR’s work and the relevance of engaging the Call to Action (and Agenda for Protection) for achieving UNHCR’s protection objectives; b) provides, in approximately 20-25 pages, a brief overview of several existing human rights engagement practices and lessons learned from different operations; and analysis of potential opportunities for greater UNHCR human rights engagement within the rollout of the Call to Action (and the Agenda for Protection) to provide tangible impacts to strengthen protection for people of concern, including consideration of specific opportunities in at least 1-2 operations as an example; and c) in 2-3 pages, recaps the basic recommendations for DIP/HRLU to increase support to field operations in their human rights engagement toward protection of people of concern.

The recommendations should include both general recommendations and guidance, as well as one or more examples of potential human rights interventions that could be carried out by / with a particular operation to respond to an identified protection gap. Throughout the project, the focus will be on considering concrete and practical ways to utilize human rights engagement to support field operations to ensure greater protection of people of concern, and how DIP/HRLU can provide the greatest support for these initiatives.

The report should also include an annex with a full list and summaries of all interviews conducted in preparation of the final report.

Monitoring and Progress Controls:

  • 1st instalment (5,000 USD, 15 December 2022) after delivery of a draft of the following parts of the document: introduction on the existing tools, resources and guidance on promoting a human rights-based approach to UNHCR’s work and the relevance of engaging the Call to Action and Agenda for Protection for achieving UNHCR’s protection objectives; overview of 3-5 existing practices in operations with analysis of lessons learned; a general summary of the initial findings from the consultations and general recommendations; identification of 1-2 operations for specific recommendations; and an annex with summaries of the consultations conducted and those yet planned.
  • 2nd instalment (3,000 USD, tentative date 31 January 2023) after delivery of: the final drafts of all chapters and the annex.

While the HRLU team will be available for consultations as needed, a check-in call will be scheduled for mid-December to review initial progress, answer questions and provide feedback. A final call will be carried out at the delivery of the final report to discuss the findings and recommendations.

Essential minimum qualifications and professional experience required

**Education:**Degree in International Studies, Human Rights, Development Studies, Law, or a related field.


  • Minimum 6 years of relevant experience with an advanced university degree or 8 years with a BA.
  • Knowledge and experience in working with refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless persons, IDPs and/or returnees and familiarity with UNHCR’s mandate.
  • Knowledge and experience in human rights engagement.
  • Demonstrated experience managing projects desirable.
  • Experience working for a UN agency, International NGO or other related entity desirable, especially at field level.


  • Excellent analytical and drafting skills: advanced skills including the capacity to collect and analyse qualitative and quantitative data from various sources to produce meaningful analysis and to draft relevant documents.
  • Demonstrated organizational skills: the ability to work independently and productively in a fast-paced environment.
  • Flexible work attitude: the ability to work productively, independently, and to handle requests or issues as they arise.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills: the ability to successfully and effectively communicate with people in a multi-cultural environment.
  • Excellent computer skills: MS Word and Excel.


  • Fluency in English is required.
  • A good working knowledge of French is highly desirable.
  • Knowledge of Spanish and/or Arabic is an asset.


The successful candidate will work from home and be remotely connected with the Human Rights Liaison Unit in Geneva. The candidate should be available as needed during normal working hours in the CET time zone.


This contract is task-based and runs for 3 months.

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit their letter of motivation, Personal History Form (P11) and CV to [email protected] indicating VN 016/FPS/DIP/2022 – Human Rights Consultancy in the subject of the email.

  • Letter of motivation, addressing each of the personal requirements in the vacancy notice.
  • Completed UN Personal History Form (P11) signed, including testimonials/degrees/certificates.
  • CV


The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Geneva, 29 September 2022

Closing date: 6-Oct-22