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Human Rights attorney position at Center for Constitutional Rights


Title: International Human Rights Staff Attorney

Start Date: August, 2009

Location: New York City

Reports to: Legal Director


Center for Constitutional Rights, 666 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY  10012

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) seeks a Staff Attorney to litigate international human rights cases in U.S. courts, as well as engage in coordinated education and outreach work.   Ability to advocate in international bodies and/or foreign courts is a plus.  Substantive areas of specialization will likely include:  cases against multinational corporations and government officials for serious human rights or humanitarian law violations, international women’s rights and gender justice, and the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights.

For 43 years, CCR has been dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CCR grew out of the civil rights struggle in the South and is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.   Specific focuses have included the integration of international human rights and humanitarian law into claims brought in U.S. courts and pressing the U.S. government to abide by international law and its international obligations.

In 1980, following prior challenges to U.S. policy or practices in Latin America and Southeast Asia that violated international law, CCR won the landmark Filártiga v. Peña-Irala.   In Filártiga, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) was recognized as the basis by which non-US citizens could bring claims for serious international human rights violations – including torture – in U.S. federal courts. Since 1980 CCR has continued to litigate cases under the ATS, bringing legal claims against those with command responsibility, U.S. and foreign officials, and non-state actors, including multinational corporations.  Among the cases that the International Human Rights docket has litigated over the last 25 years are: Corrie v. Caterpillar; Doe v. Unocal; Kadić v. Karadžić; and Doe v. Constant.

CCR’s current cases against multinational corporations include Wiwa v. Royal Dutch/Shell, for the killing and torture of human rights activists and protestors in Nigeria, Saleh v. Titan, for the torture and other serious abuse of Iraqi detainees by private contractors in detention centers across Iraq, and Abtan v. Blackwater, brought against the private military contractor Blackwater by those injured and the families of those killed following the Nisoor Square shooting in Iraq. The IHR docket has represented plaintiffs in cases brought against U.S. officials (Arar v. Ashcroft, challenging the torture and arbitrary detention of extraordinary rendition victim Maher Arar) and foreign officials (Matar v. Dichter, brought on behalf of Palestinians who were killed or injured in 2002, when a one-ton bomb was dropped on a residential apartment building in Gaza City).  Finally, CCR has brought claims, or supported litigation, in U.S. court and international fora on behalf of women who survived gender violence, and on behalf of the family members of those who were killed as a result of such violence. For an in-depth look at CCR’s legal programs, applicants are encouraged to review our website, www.ccrjustice.org.

The primary work of a staff attorney will be litigation, including:

  • Devise, initiate and/or contribute to the development and implementation of litigation strategies before domestic courts and regional human rights bodies, as well as advocacy efforts within the United Nations system;
  • conduct legal and factual research on issues of international human rights, humanitarian, and criminal law, as well as federal and state law, as it relates to current and future cases or issues related to the work of the IHR docket; and
  • other litigation responsibilities, including drafting and filing legal briefs, conducting motion-practice, presenting oral argument, and coordinating amicus strategies.

Additional responsibilities will include:

  • contribute to the developing, planning and implementation of community outreach and advocacy initiatives and educational materials, including public speaking and writing on subjects related to the docket area;
  • media work, including doing interviews and reviewing press materials;
  • assist the Development Department in developing grant proposals and discussing work with donors (some travel may be required); and
  • supervision of legal workers and legal interns, as well as building relations with outside lawyers and organizations to broaden the human resources of the IHR Docket.


  • Minimum of six years litigation experience, with at least some of that experience in complex litigation. Admission to the New York Bar preferred; if hired, must become admitted to New York Bar.
  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest work in social justice issues. The ideal applicant should have a background in: corporate accountability; international women’s human rights; human rights and humanitarian law; or economic, social and cultural rights.

The ideal candidate would also have the following qualifications:

  • Excellent research and writing skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively undertake complex legal work.
  • Ability to work independently and to manage a variety of tasks simultaneously.
  • Creativity in crafting strategies to advance and promote international human rights in CCR’s priority areas.
  • Proven ability to work as member of a team.
  • Experience with advocacy outside of or in conjunction with litigation.
  • International experience.
  • Willingness to travel.


Salary is commensurate with experience and in accordance with CCR’s collectively bargained salary scale.  Benefits include pension plan, escalating vacation beginning with three weeks, sick leave, holidays, and 100% organization paid health benefits for employees including medical, dental, life and long-term disability insurance.


Qualified candidates should mail a cover letter with salary requirements, resume, writing sample, and three references to: IHR Search Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, 666 Broadway, 7th floor, NY, 10012 or e-mail to ihrsearch@ccrjustice.org with “IHR Attorney Search” in the subject line.   E-mail applications are preferred.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis and strong consideration will be given to early applications.



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