Research Fellow, Human Rights Initiative

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)


  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Contract Type: Full-time
  • Rolling application

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a non-profit, bipartisan public policy organization established in 1962 to address international policy issues and to provide policy options and solutions. CSIS is one of the largest organizations of its kind, with a staff of roughly 200 employees, including more than 100 analysts tracking policy issues and developments in countries across the globe.


The CSIS Human Rights Initiative (HRI) offers policy-relevant insights and conducts research on critical global human rights, peace, and security issues, with a focus on generating concrete, evidence-based solutions. HRI has three areas of emphasis: addressing closing space for civil society, reconciling human rights and security agendas, and developing community-led strategies for countering violent extremism in the United States and abroad.

By engaging and collaborating with thought leaders in Washington, DC and around the world, the project aims to increase the quality and level of dialogue surrounding critical global human rights, peace, and security challenges and to help develop both the policy solutions and political will to address them.

CSIS is seeking a highly motivated and experienced Research Fellow to join HRI. Responsibilities include qualitative and quantitative analysis, drafting and finalizing short, medium, and full-length reports and commentaries, and overseeing research partnerships. In particular, the Research Fellow will conduct research on closing space for civil society, aimed at better understanding the phenomenon and generating concrete strategies for making civil society more resilient and sustainable. This research is part of an international consortium of scholars and practitioners that HRI is leading to develop evidence-based solutions for protecting freedoms of association, assembly, and expression amid a global crackdown.


Substantive Research

  • Prepare, edit, and review written analytic materials including commentaries, critical questions, working papers, and policy analysis pieces.
  • Provide research support to the Director.
  • Market the project to key stakeholders by attending briefings, roundtable discussions, conferences, etc.
  • Edit and fact-check research products with a view to making them policy relevant and useful for practitioners.
  • Devise new ways of disseminating program work and getting key constituencies to implement policy and programmatic recommendations.
  • Stay abreast of new research, data, and developments related to civil society. 

Project Management

  • Generate ideas for new projects, partnerships, collaborations, events, and speakers.
  • Develop new outreach strategies to establish and sustain relationships with Congressional, private sector, civil society, and academic stakeholders.
  • Contribute to the strategic planning and implementation of program research streams and other initiatives.
  • Collaborate with and manage external consultants and partners conducting research on civil society.
  • Liaise with and provide analytical support to members of the international consortium on closing space for civil society.

Required Skills


  • M.A. in relevant field (international development/affairs, public policy, human rights) and eight to ten years of relevant experience required.
  • Work experience in human rights, democracy and governance necessary.
  • Demonstrated understanding and expertise on the issue of closing space for civil society and/or civil society strengthening.
  • Ability to write, think, and operate independently.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Command of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.
  • Experience working in developing countries a plus.
  • Superior writing ability and experience editing others’ writing for substance, structure, clarity, grammar, and policy relevance.
  • Strong analytic and communication skills, including the ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from constituency groups, media, governmental entities, and the general public.


The physical demands are representative of those that must be met by an employee working in an office environment.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential job functions.  The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status.

Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.