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Call for applications: 2020 Senior Indigenous Fellow

Indigenous Fellowship Programme

Deadline: Friday, 25 November 2020 (closed)
Duration: From 13 January to December 2021
Location: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section, Geneva - Switzerland

The Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section (IPMS) of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is seeking an indigenous person to fill the position of “Senior Fellow” from 13 January to 31 December 2021.

The Senior Indigenous Fellowship aims at giving the selected indigenous person a better understanding of the international human rights system and mechanisms, especially those dealing with indigenous rights. Through this experience, the Senior Fellow will gain practical knowledge and working level experience by specifically working with the team managing the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples. Such exposure will also allow him/her to develop an extensive contact network with OHCHR staff in general, as well as other UN entities and human rights NGOs in Geneva.

The Senior Fellow is expected to return to his/her home country with an enhanced set of skills and expertise to contribute towards the promotion and protection of human rights of indigenous peoples at the national, regional or international level.

Terms of reference

The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples was established in 1985 and since has been instrumental in ensuring that voices of indigenous peoples are heard and taken into account within the UN system. The Fund has thus far supported the participation of over 2,400 indigenous peoples’ representatives in various UN processes and supports the participation of indigenous peoples into the sessions of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) as well as relevant meetings of the Human Rights Council and United Nations human rights treaty bodies

The team managing the Fund is based in the Indigenous Peoples Minorities Section (IPMS) of OHCHR. The Senior Indigenous Fellow will be working in the IPMS under the guidance and supervision of the Chief of Section and the coordinator of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples. She/he will be requested to:

  • Contribute to the activities of the Section by providing substantive, administrative and technical support to the mandate and activities of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples; organises human rights training and capacity building activities for the grantees of the Fund; supports the development of comprehensive and interactive capacity-building tools, fundraising activities; and develops outreach and dissemination strategy to improve the Fund’s support to its grantees.
  • Perform any other activity to contribute to the work of the Section, including preparing analytical briefs or notes, supporting grantees and providing assistance in delivering administrative or technical tasks.


The candidate must be indigenous. He/she should have:

  • A university degree preferably in law, political sciences, international relations or any other disciplines related to human rights.
  • Basic understanding and knowledge of international human rights instruments and mechanisms, including those specifically dealing with the rights of indigenous peoples.
  • Minimum of five years of working experience in the field of indigenous peoples’ rights
  • Experience of working in resource mobilization, communication and outreach and development of capacity building and training tool are highly desirable
  • Fluency (oral and written) in English language is required. Other language skills including Spanish, French or Russian are highly desirable.


The candidate selected will not receive a salary but will be entitled to a monthly stipend that will cover basic living expenses in Geneva, as well as return ticket to the country of residence and basic health insurance.

(Please note that this is not a regular employment position within OHCHR and it does not lead to employment rights and entitlements beyond the terms of the fellowship.)

Selection process

Interested candidates should send their scanned applications by email to: [email protected] and specifying in the subject line Application to the Senior Indigenous Fellowship”.

The application should include the following documents:

  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • A letter of motivation (maximum 2 pages), in which the candidate will introduce himself/herself - mentioning the indigenous community he/she belongs to - explain why he/she considers himself/herself suitable for that position, what he/she hopes to achieve through this fellowship and what he/she expects to do upon return to promote indigenous rights
  • A letter of recommendation from the organization with which indigenous applicants are affiliated

The deadline to receive applications is 25 November 2020. Please note that only short-listed applicants will be contacted and interviewed. The selected candidate is expected to assume the position by January 2021 or earlier.

This Programme is supported by the Voluntary Fund. Read more about the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples.