Who we

The Justice Initiative is an operational program of the Open Society Foundations. Rather than giving grants, the Justice Initiative’s lawyers, advocates, and staff pursue legal work that supports the broader mission and values of Open Society. 

The Open Society Foundations established the Justice Initiative in 2003 to provide expert legal support for its broader mission and values through strategic human rights litigation and other legal work. 

Our lawyers have represented scores of individuals and groups before domestic and international courts and tribunals around the world. These cases seek not only to vindicate individual claims, but to set precedents to establish and strengthen the law’s protections. 

Working with partners, we also document violations, propose and pilot solutions, engage policymakers, and draw on our global legal experience so that access to justice can be available to everyone.

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Our mission

The Open Society Justice Initiative uses litigation, advocacy, and legal empowerment to promote and defend justice and human rights. We work with partners around the world to ensure that law—too often an instrument of powerful people alone—is shaped and employed for the benefit of all. 

Learning Opportunities

Summer school in Human Rights Litigation

Our annual school provides a opportunity for human rights lawyers to brainstorm and network within a community of practice. Participants will develop their skills in achieving practical change through litigation before domestic, regional, and international courts as well as human rights mechanisms. This year’s summer school will focus on human rights issues arising in climate change and digital technology, including the digitization of the State and access to public services.

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Aryeh Neier Fellowship Program

The Aryeh Neier Fellowship, named after the Open Society Foundations’ first president, is a full-time, two-year program that offers lawyers and other advocates the opportunity to gain practical experience in international human rights advocacy, embedding them as an integral part of the global Justice Initiative team. Fellowships are available in New York, Berlin, and London. More information on how to apply coming soon.

2nd Africa Human Rights Litigation Course

In 2019, the Justice Initiative delivered its inaugural African human rights litigation course in Ghana. The course encouraged practicing lawyers to approach human rights litigation strategically, while viewing it as one step in the process of achieving social change. The curriculum covered a range of human rights tribunals within the African regional human rights system. In 2021, we hope to bring the course back to a new location in Nairobi, Kenya. More information on how to apply coming soon.

Litigation Fellowship Program

The Justice Initiative Litigation Fellowship program is a full-time, two-year program that offers junior lawyers the opportunity to gain practical experience in international, regional, and national human rights strategic litigation across a broad range of thematic areas and geographies, embedding them as an integral part of the Justice Initiative’s litigation team. Additionally, the fellowship offers a realistic and intensive experience of work as a human rights lawyer through casework, training on human rights litigation, and other core activities. More information on how to apply coming soon.

Jobs and Internships

As part of the Open Society Foundations, our diverse and inclusive staff is passionate about cultivating a more democratic, equitable world. 

Open positions

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