Secretary-General (Head of the Organization)

Secretary-General (Head of the Organization)

Application deadline closed.

Job Description

International Commission of Jurists


The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is a worldwide organization of judges and lawyers united in affirming international law and rule of law principles that advance human rights. Its strategic goals for 2021-2025 are: (1) to develop, defend, and strengthen international institutions, instruments, and standards on rule of law and human rights; (2) to improve domestic implementation of, and compliance with, international law and standards; (3) to bolster the effectiveness and independence of judges and lawyers; and (4) to improve access to justice for all and accountability.

The ICJ is seeking to recruit its new Secretary-General as Chief Executive Officer of the organization, to be in charge of and responsible for the work of the International Secretariat.

The Secretary-General is responsible for ensuring the pursuit of the ICJ's vision and mission and its strategic objectives, working in close cooperation with and reporting to the Executive Committee and Commission.

The Secretary-General provides leadership for the ICJ’s engagement with governments, international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and the legal community and represents the organization in these and other important stakeholders. The Secretary-General also provides strategic leadership, direction, and priority setting to ensure that the ICJ’s programs and operations are effectively managed and delivered according to the contractual obligations of its donors and the organization’s Mission and Objectives. This encompasses all aspects relating to administration, finance and staff, and the direction and development of strategies to implement the Mission and the policies of the Commission and the Executive Committee.

The Secretary-General regularly reports to the Executive Committee and the Commission on progress achieved, budgetary matters, and proposals for new programs.

The ideal candidate is a legal professional of high standing with demonstrated experience in international human rights law, in programme and staff management and in fundraising. The candidate should be available to take up the post at the latest in March 2023.


The Secretary-General will have the following responsibilities:

  • Supervise the operations of the ICJ’s Geneva office and its regional and country offices.
  • Maintain a close relationship with the members of the Commission, including the Executive Committee and especially with its President and the Chairperson of Ex-Co to inform and engage them in the ICJ activities.
  • Appoint and directly supervise the Directors and have overall responsibility for all staff of the International Secretariat.
  • Co-ordinate and develop strategies and programmes to promote and protect human rights and the rule of law and carry out the objectives and strategic plan of the organization.
  • Supervise the design and implementation of programme strategies of the ICJ’s Regional Programmes and the Legal and Policy Office.
  • In conjunction with staff responsible for program development and donor relations, drive the development of fundraising strategies and actively lead fundraising activities, including the approval of funding proposals and maintaining relations with donors.
  • Manage the organization’s resources and budget in conjunction with staff responsible for finance, ensuring effective financial management.
  • Direct the development of the organization’s communication plans and media approach.
  • Supervise the preparation and publication of the ICJ’s Annual Report.
  • Promote collaboration and exchanges between ICJ programmes and offices.
  • Regularly account to the Executive Committee for the execution of the responsibilities.
  • Provide leadership for the organization’s engagement with its global network and give advice on legal and political developments, immediate and long-term objectives, and advocacy strategies.
  • Inform the Commission and National Sections and Affiliates about the organization’s activities to engage them and contribute to them.
  • Represent the organization before governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, the broader human rights and legal community, the media and the general public.


Education & Experience

  • Degree in law and further academic qualification in public international law, international human rights law, or international humanitarian law.
  • A minimum of fifteen years of experience in the legal profession, including demonstrated experience in international human rights law.
  • Experience engaging with international and/or regional human rights systems.
  • Practical legal and advocacy experience at the national and /or international level.
  • Excellent applied knowledge of international human rights law, humanitarian law, and international and regional human rights jurisprudence and the rule of law.
  • Ten years of leadership experience in programme, staff management, fundraising experience with strategic vision and proven skills in management in complex organizations, such as an international or non-governmental organization.
  • A strong track record in successful fundraising.
  • Proven experience in budget supervision and financial controls and management.
  • Solid track record of strong leadership in building and motivating effective multi-cultural teams working internationally and in different locations.
  • Demonstrated skills in respecting diversity, consultation, and participation.
  • Demonstrated vision and experience in the implementation of workplace reform and change management.

Other requirements

  • Excellent leadership and management skills.
  • Established and respected reputation in international law, particularly international human rights law.
  • Excellent political judgment and the proven ability to develop and carry out innovative advocacy strategies.
  • Ability to plan, manage, interact, coordinate, and prioritize the complex workloads of Secretariat staff.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English. Fluency in other languages is advantageous, particularly French and/or Spanish.
  • Ability to undertake frequent international travel as needed.
  • Ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines.
  • Demonstrated commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
  • Impeccable personal and professional integrity.


The terms of appointment shall be in line with the terms and conditions of service as stipulated in the ICJ’s Geneva Employee Handbook which may be consulted by shortlisted candidates.

The salary will be determined based on the experience of the candidate and the cost of living in the city of Geneva.

The appointment is for an initial period of five years inclusive of six months probationary period, renewable by the decision of the Executive Committee.

APPLICATIONS close on 31 July 2022 and should be addressed with your resume (maximum two pages), a cover letter (maximum two pages) and the names of at least two references to:

Ref: Secretary-General
By email: with cc.:

Kindly appreciate that due to the volume of applications, only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

In case you have the need of a clarification you can write to the chair of the recruitment committee:

The ICJ is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity and value a diverse workforce. The ICJ’s policy is to practice a fair and non-discriminatory recruitment and selection procedure and to strive for and maintain international and multi-cultural personnel.

Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.