IJDH Legal Fellowship – Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) – Boston, MA

Project Description

The Legal Fellow will be working closely with a team of lawyers in the United States and Haiti on advocacy and legal work, primarily aimed at seeking accountability from the United Nations (UN) for causing Haiti’s cholera epidemic. Cholera broke out in Haiti in October 2010, and the country is now fighting to contain the world’s largest cholera epidemic. Overwhelming evidence has established that reckless disposal of human waste on a UN peacekeeping base in Mirebalais poisoned Haiti’s rivers with a particularly deadly strain of cholera bacteria and caused the epidemic. IJDH and BAI represent victims of cholera in their quest for justice from the UN.

In November 2011, we filed claims with the UN on behalf of 5,000 victims of cholera seeking a) investments in water and sanitation infrastructure to control the epidemic, b) compensation for the victims and c) a public apology. In February 2013, the UN rejected these claims. In October 2013 IJDH and BAI filed a class-action suit against the UN in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. After a hearing on the issue of UN immunity, the District Court judge issued a decision holding that the UN has absolute immunity from this lawsuit and dismissed the case. We are currently appealing the decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

In addition to the legal effort, the cholera team works with Haitian grassroots groups and international advocates in a broad-based campaign to push the UN to take action to stop cholera’s killing. We work within the UN system, and have engaged UN human rights experts and other public officials, including the U.S. Congress, on the issue and its human rights implications.

Fellowship Details

The fellowship position is for one year, though shorter durations can be considered on a case-by-case basis. Ideally, the fellowship would start in mid to late July 2015, though we are flexible and will consider earlier or later start dates.

Given our small office and large volume of work, fellows will be given a high degree of responsibility from the start and are incorporated as valued members of the legal team. Accordingly, fellows must be highly motivated and reliable.

Responsibilities of the Legal Fellow include:

Conducting domestic, international and comparative legal research;
Producing internal memoranda and drafting legal documents for submission to court;
Assisting in the preparation of an appeal currently pending in the Second Circuit;
Participating in case management and working with confidential client files;
Supporting the organization and implementation of domestic and international advocacy campaigns in collaboration with partner organizations;
Developing political strategies and engaging directly with national legislators, UN officers and other powerful international actors;
Drafting advocacy documents, including human rights reports, op-eds and case summaries for publication;
Providing administrative support to the team as needed, and assisting in the coordination of meetings and events;
Assisting with composition of fundraising and grant proposal documents, as needed;
Engaging with international media, including drafting press releases and educating press on recent case developments.


Bachelors and J.D., or equivalent law degree;
Excellent written and oral communication skills;
Proficiency in standard computer applications;
High level of initiative, independence and motivation;
Ability to handle sensitive client relationships and protect the confidentiality of our work and our communications;
Proficiency in French and/or Haitian Creole desired;
Knowledge of Haitian history and political environment desired;
Litigation experience preferred.

How to apply

Application Procedure

Attorneys interested in the position of IJDH Legal Fellow should submit a cover letter, resume, short writing sample, and contact information for two references. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and position is open until filled. Please send all application materials electronically to Ruth Vaughan (ruth@ijdh.org). Include “IJDH Legal Fellow” in the subject line.