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A Beginner’s Guide: Human Rights Career Paths

The Human Rights field is an area that provides support and help to those in need. It’s one of the most rewarding fields you can go into, with some amazing positions that allow you to not only help people but see the world as well. If you’re interested into going into human rights, but don’t want to be sitting at a desk all day – don’t worry.  There are plenty of positions within the human rights field which fit various lifestyles. We found some of the most exciting human rights work positions that will certainly inspire you to get into the human rights field.  Let’s take a closer look.

Human Rights Lawyer

If you can win any argument that gets thrown your way, then you should consider a profession in law. Of course, to become a human rights lawyer, you’ll need a law degree, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves right now. Human rights lawyers come into the picture once a crime has been committed. From there, lawyers are in charge of really digging deep into the history of the given case to develop an understanding of the violations, victims, and perpetrators. Not only are the cases extremely interesting, you will also make a great contribution to the international community by charging those who committed human rights violations. If you love arguing, researching and fighting for justice then this is a great position. There are also law degrees available internationally which are specifically Human Rights Law degrees.

Documentary Filmmaker

Film has the power to touch people’s emotions and influence them into using their voices to make a change. Though we rely on policy-makers to change legislation, it’s usually unsuccessful unless there is public support.  Right now, you can probably think of a couple amazing documentaries –  Blackfish,  Bowling for Columbine, Food, Inc.  Documentary filmmaking is a great way to travel and storytell. Contrary to popular belief, with a small budget, you can create a compelling documentary. After completion, you can get non-profit organizations to support your film and your cause. If you have an idea and a vision of it on the big screen, then consider becoming a documentary filmmaker.

Overseas Researcher

If you love to travel and aren’t afraid to really witness what’s going on in the world, then you should consider becoming an overseas researcher. The position of an overseas researcher is really quite vast and can cover many topics. For example, an overseas researcher may be focusing on the living conditions in a specific prison in Brazil or the housing rights of indigenous peoples. This position mixes investigative journalism, research, law and advocacy work.  You’ll get to talk to people from both sides of the story and see the situation with your own eyes. This position gives you literally a hands-on experience, with the ability to create research which reveals the truth.


If you have a voice that can influence and bring awareness to people, then consider becoming an activist. This position isn’t easy but is extremely rewarding.  If there is a campaign or cause that you’re passionate about, as an activist you’re goal is to promote social, economic or environmental change in society. You may end up meeting influential people and create social change. This position is not for the light-hearted, you must be truly passionate about your cause as it may take a long period of time until you see change. Surround yourself with supportive, confident and passionate individuals who will support you and your cause until the goal is completed. So, don’t get discouraged – change will happen!

Human Rights Journalist

Do you like investigating and getting your hands dirty? Human Rights Journalism is definitely a career for a person who wants to see, feel and experience conflict. This will also require you to have high-quality writing skills and as well as decent photography skills. Your goal is to expose the truth of the human rights violation that is happening. Depending on where you go, it may be slightly dangerous, however, if you’re considering this position, you like taking risks. This position can be independent work or for a human rights organization.  In addition, this position will have you travelling all around the world.

Human Rights Educatior

If you want to influence older and younger generations, you can become a human rights educator. This allows you to empower communities and individuals by educating them and providing them with the skills needed to enforce their human rights in their societies. Without knowledge, many communities and individuals are left in the dark and are unaware of their rights. This job will require you to travel to various communities and educate them through human rights programmes. You will also need to have the knowledge of the socio-political and economic situation of the designated community. If you do not have previous experience in training programmes, you can always start as an assistant to develop the necessary skills needed.

There are so many positions available that do not have you simply sitting at a desk from 9 to 5. If you’re the type of person who likes to be active within the community, meeting new people and travelling then consider some of these positions. Not only will you be experiencing new things and seeing the world but you’ll be doing that while making a difference in the international community. So, freshen up your CV and start looking online for available positions. If there aren’t any openings, see if you can try to go into the field as a freelancer or intern. That way, you can build up your portfolio and work your way up the ranks. However you decide to get into the human rights field, the hard work will certainly pay off.  We wish you luck!


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