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Call for Applications of Researchers in Southern Africa

Consultancy: Experienced researchers for study on human rights and local governance in Southern Africa and Sweden 

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (“RWI”), Lund, Sweden, in partnership with the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (hereinafter “ICLD”), Visby, Sweden, is launching a call (hereinafter “Call”) for applications targeting experienced researchers in the Southern Africa region. The call is aiming to recruit four (4) researchers as members of a research team within the framework of the research project “Human Rights Perceptions and Practices at the Local level: Cases from Southern Africa and Sweden” (hereinafter “research project”).



We are looking for four (4) researcher positions as member of a research team, with individual responsibility to carry out original research regarding a selected city in each of the following countries: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia.


28 February – 31 December 2022, starting with a planning workshop in Johannesburg 7-10 March 2022.

Research Project

Human Rights Perceptions and Practices at the Local level: Cases from Southern Africa and Sweden.

Application Procedure

Complete applications in English, including motivational letter (max 2 pages), a preliminary project description regarding the city case study in accordance with criteria specified below (max 2 pages), and a detailed biography including relevant publications, should be submitted by Wednesday 16 February 2022.

Applicants must be nationals of the country in which the chosen city for study is located.

Questions can be directed to: helena.olsson@rwi.lu.se


The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) is looking for experienced researchers to join a study team which, during the period March-December 2022, will conduct a multiple-case research project regarding human rights and local governance in Southern Africa and in Sweden.

The purpose of this project is to form an international research team to conduct a study on how local governments understand, refer to, and implement human rights in five selected cities in Southern Africa and Sweden. The study aims to create knowledge on how local government officials and local administrators in each of the five cities studied relate human rights to municipal functions, focusing on how they understand and apply human rights norms and principles in their daily work. Thus, the study will identify and analyse opportunities, benefits and challenges that local governments experience in applying the framework of human rights in their work. This will allow the research team to identify hindering and facilitating factors in order to produce recommendations on how to strengthen local human rights work, as well as how to develop a self-assessment tool.

This project recognises local governments as a potential missing link in the human rights system and a necessary transmission belt between States Parties to the human rights treaties and the rights holders. Given their contextual knowledge and closeness to citizens’ everyday life, local governments are in a unique position to use human rights-based approaches in delivering public services and in its dialogue and engagement with the population. Therefore, this project will pay special attention to the institutional structures and working methods of the five selected cities relating to the domestication of international and regional human rights standards, including partnership strategies with civil society.

The five selected cities for the study are part of a human rights network of local governments in Sweden and Southern Africa. These cities are one in Sweden (Falun) and one each from four countries in Southern Africa: Zimbabwe (Mutare), South Africa (Mogale), Botswana (Francistown) and Zambia (Livingstone), which all have committed to conducting human rights projects under the ICLD Network.

Selected researchers, one from each country, will be responsible for conducting an individual study related to the perceptions of, and practices related to, human rights in one of the five selected cities from Sweden and Southern Africa. In particular, this advertisement concerns the selection of four national researchers, one for each of the selected Southern African countries (Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia).

Purpose and scope of the assignment

The purpose of the assignment of each selected researcher is to ensure a qualitative study related to the assigned city case study, focusing on how local city government understands and implements international and regional human rights standards at the local levels, attaching particular consideration to institutional structures and working methods applied by the city in its daily work. In addition, special consideration should be given to the role that local governments gives to civil society as potential key stakeholders in the domestication of human rights standards.

Selected researchers will be part of a research team, under the coordination of Dr Alejandro Fuentes, RWI Senior Researcher, and will have both the individual responsibility to conduct the case study of the assigned city and the common responsibility to contribute to the general purpose of the research project, including developing its common methodology, producing expected deliverables and meeting deadlines. In this sense, team members will be accountable to the research coordinator, and to one another, for progressing with their own city studies, as well as for contributions to the common analytical sections.

All selected researchers are also expected to be actively engaged in fine-tuning aims and methods, and in developing research plans in preparation for, and during, the first research team meeting in March 2022.


This research project is aiming at developing a multiple-case study of five selected cities in Sweden and Southern Africa, regarding their practise in implementing international and regional human rights standards, including the possibility of becoming human rights cities.

Overall, the project is aiming at publishing an edited volume in which each of the selected researchers will contribute with a chapter related to the assigned city case study. In addition, each researcher will produce a policy brief, addressing the local authorities and relevant stakeholders with the main recommendations that will emerge from their case study.

In addition, it is expected that selected researchers will participate and substantially contribute to the different meetings, seminars and conferences organized within the framework of the project.

Tentative timeline

  • Preparations for and active participation in a 2,5-day planning workshop – 7-10 March 2022 that will take place presentially in Johannesburg (SA). [1]
  • Elaboration and submission of the first draft of the case study report – 31 April 2022.
  • Participation in an on-line second project workshop – 9 May 2022.
  • Submission, presentation and discussion of the advance draft of the case study report in an online conference/panel – October 2022.[2]
  • Submission, presentation and discussion of the draft of the policy brief of the case study in an online internal seminar – November 2022.
  • Submission of the final draft of the case study report, together with the final draft of the policy brief – 10 December.
  • Tentative: Peer-review, editing and proof reading of the case studies, as chapter of a common edited volume, will take place during the first semester of 2023, under the direction of the general coordinator of the project (Dr Fuentes).
  • NB: Please, note that exact timeline and deliverables will be agreed between the RWI research coordinator and research team members during the planning workshop 7-10 March.

Terms of assignment

RWI will sign a consultancy contract with each selected researcher that specify terms of reference and conditions for assignments. Contracts will include all applicable RWI policies and code of conduct that the consultants commit to adhere to.

A lump sum fee of will be provided aid to each researcher, along with reimbursement of any pre-agreed travel costs.

Applicants’ qualifications

  • Applicants should have a Doctoral Degree (PhD), with a relevant focus on human rights law or related fields.
  • Solid human rights knowledge, including on regional rights systems in Africa.
  • Experience from conducting applied research/research with the aim of supporting institutional implementation of human rights.
  • Understanding of the role of local governments within the human rights system.

Application procedure

Please attach and e-mail the following documents by Wednesday 16 February 2022, to Helena Olsson (Helena.olsson@rwi.lu.se):

  1. Up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV)
  2. Research proposal (800-1500 words) – A short description of the city case study you wish to conduct within the framework of the research project “Human Rights Perceptions and Practices at the Local level: Cases from Southern Africa and Sweden”. The research proposal should contain: (1) Indication of which selected city, among the four available Southern African cities, will be object of the individual research study; (2) a short account of the main research question(s) and method(s) that are planned to be used; (3) an explanation of the chosen methodology and how it is suitable to contribute to identifying and highlighting the challenges and opportunities regarding the implementation of international and regional human rights standards in the selected city; and (4) an account of the feasibility of conducting and finalising the research study and submitting the first, advance and final draft of the paper and research brief within the above-mentioned timeline.
  3. Motivation letter (200-600 words) – A personal statement explaining your experience and background in terms of human rights research and local governance, and how that professional background will contribute to the realization of the research project, as a team member.
  4. Temporal and geographical research plan – Briefly outline when and where the different components of the city case study shall be carried out, taking into consideration the framework and timeline of the research project.
  5. Simplified budget – Please provide a budget outlining each cost associated with carrying out the city case study, including a rationale for each expenditure (e.g. travels and field research, study visits, materials, etc.).

NB: Please, note that your proposal for the conduction of the city case study will be subject to modifications as per agreement with the general coordinator of the research project and as result of the discussions that will take place during the first research workshop.

An email confirmation that your application has been received will be sent to all applicants.

Evaluation of proposals

All research grant proposals will be evaluated by a Selection Committee comprised of RWI staff having relevant research, human rights and contextual expertise.

The following factors, among others, will be taken into consideration when evaluating proposals:

  • quality of the written proposal, i.e. clarity, organisation and design; experience in collaborating with local governments and civil society actors in the cities to be studied;
  • relevant publications and own research in the field;
  • being a faculty member or affiliated scholar to a university with which ICLD have memoranda of understanding, or that is a member of RWI human rights academic networks in Africa.

Gender equality will be pursued in the team, as well as diversity in backgrounds and other factors that can enrich and broaden perspectives of the study. The decision of the Selection Committee is final.

[1] The organizers reserve the possibility to organize this initial workshop in an online form, if the measures taken in the contexts of the COVID-19 pandemic recommend or prescribe to do so.

[2] The organizers reserve the possibility to organize this conference/panel in partnership with the 2022 Word Human Rights City Forum, to be held in October 2022, Gwangju (Korea).

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