U.S. Environmental Defenders Research Consultant

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U.S. Environmental Defenders Research Consultant

Location: United States

Call for Applications: U.S. Environmental Defenders Research Consultant

Location: United States

Deadline to receive letter of interest: Rolling, we will review applications after April 12.

Background and Purpose

EarthRights seeks a qualified consultant to document recent cases of reprisals against environmental and land defenders in the United States, with a particular focus on reprisals against Indigenous communities, communities of color, and economically disadvantaged communities. This research will help EarthRights and our partners to understand the range of tactics being used by businesses against environmental and land defenders and will inform several forthcoming campaign activities.

Scope of Research

The consultant will prepare a memorandum for EarthRights that describes specific cases of reprisals against environmental and land defenders that have occurred in the United States since 2015. For purposes of this research:

  • A “human rights defender” is an individual, group, or organization that uses nonviolent action, in either a personal or professional capacity, to promote or protect human rights. This can include activists, community leaders, concerned citizens, journalists, civil servants, religious leaders, Indigenous communities, lawyers, nonprofit organizations, media organizations, or others.
  • An “environmental and land defender” is a human rights defender who advocates for the protection of the environment, the climate, public health, Indigenous rights, or community land rights; or who investigates, exposes, or raises awareness of harm or corruption related to natural resource use.
  • A “reprisal” is any action, communication, or threat made against a human rights defender that causes, has the intent to cause, or threatens to cause physical, legal, financial, psychological, or reputational harm. In many countries, reprisals against environmental and land defenders often escalate into violence and even assassinations. In the United States, reprisals are generally designed to intimidate, harass, silence, or criminalize defenders. They might include, for example, strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs), abusive subpoenas, criminalization of nonviolent civil disobedience, smear campaigns, illegal surveillance, infiltration of organizations or movements, and other tactics.

This research will include:

  • Creation of a common format and pre-established set of criteria that will be used to document cases, based on a draft that has already been created by EarthRights.
  • Desk research and media monitoring to identify cases of reprisals that have occurred since 2015.
  • Targeted outreach to specific individuals and organizations, as identified through desk research and EarthRights’ existing contacts, in coordination with EarthRights.
  • For each case, the consultant should prepare a 2-3 page profile using the common format and pre-established set of criteria.
  • For each case that is not already reported publicly in a manner that clearly demonstrates the willingness of the environmental/land defender to speak about the case, the consultant will seek the consent of each defender, in a manner prescribed by EarthRights, in order to include their case in this research. For those who consent, we will also ask for permission to include their case in public-facing materials and will ask for clarification on which aspects of their case should be kept confidential.
  • For each case, the consultant should also include citations, contact information, and interview notes that EarthRights can use to verify additional details as needed.

Deliverables

The consultant will produce at least 50 case profiles using the common format. These cases should be geographically diverse. The consultant should prioritize identifying cases of reprisals against environmental and land defenders coming from Indigenous communities, communities of color, and economically disadvantaged communities.

The case profiles themselves will not be made public. EarthRights will use this research to advance several of its campaign activities related to SLAPPs, climate justice, and the protection of environmental and land defenders. The consultant will be credited in any publications that EarthRights publishes that draws on this research, unless the consultant prefers to remain anonymous.

Qualifications of Consultant

The preferred consultant will have demonstrated experience conducting fact-finding research related to civil and criminal cases. The consultant should have experience working with civil society organizations in a staff or consultant capacity.

EarthRights International is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices and actively encourages people of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGTBQI people to apply. 

Production Calendar

The desired start date of the consultancy is late April or early May. The entire consultancy is expected to run for 3 months.

Within 21 days of commencing the project, the consultant will produce an initial list of cases and a short 1-3 sentence description of each case, for review by EarthRights.

The consultant will produce a first draft of the case studies for review by EarthRights within 45 days of receiving written comments from EarthRights on the proposed list of cases.

The consultant will provide a final draft within two weeks of receiving written comments from EarthRights, or at a later date agreed by both parties.

Consultancy Fees

The fee for the consultancy is $15,000 plus expenses to be agreed in advance with EarthRights. Payment will be contingent upon timely receipt of satisfactory first and final drafts of the memorandum.

Applications

Please send a letter of interest, resume, contact information for three references, and a 1-2 page proposal outlining the methodology, timeline, and approach to the consultancy. 

Please submit your application to recruiting@earthrights.org