Position:          IBJ Myanmar Country Director

Location:         Taunggyi, Myanmar

Duration:         1 year renewable contract

About International Bridges to Justice

In recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to ensuring the basic legal rights of ordinary citizens throughout the world. Specifically, IBJ works to guarantee all citizens the right to competent legal representation at the earliest possible time in order to prevent potential violations of their rights within the criminal justice system. IBJ also works to implement systematic early access to a lawyer in all parts of Myanmar. IBJ presently operates locally-tailored country programs in Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Syria, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mexico. Since its founding, IBJ has trained over 30,000 lawyers and provided legal support to 400,000 vulnerable individuals worldwide.

About the project

Since 2017, IBJ has implemented, as part of the European Union-funded British Council MyJustice Initiative, 5 legal aid Justice Centres throughout Myanmar. The project goals in 2020-21 are to:

  1. Provide high-quality client-centred legal representation and advice to poor and marginalized individuals while also using appellate litigation to promote fair trial rights and substantive justice.
  2. Enhance the capacity and commitment of lawyers in Myanmar to protect accused individuals, especially those from marginalized communities, from human rights abuses and unfair trial practices.
  3. Increase communication and collaboration between lawyers and justice sector officials to catalyse the adoption of rights-based legal reforms.
  4. Advance the sustainability and transfer management of IBJ Justice Centres by further investment in the capacity building of local leadership to allow for full nationalization by end of 2021.
    In Phase 1 (April 2017 to December 2019) IBJ provided direct representation in criminal matters and general legal advice to over 3000 people, promoted improved lawyer effectiveness through regional trainings and communities of practice reaching hundreds of lawyers, and engaged justice actors through regional round tables and one on one advocacy meetings. Phase 2 (January 2020 to December 2021) expands this work by increased focus on holistic representation, justice building in near-conflict areas, and prioritizing empowering our local staff to assume management and ownership of all in-country activities by the end of 2021.

See: https://www.facebook.com/IBJMyanmar/

Who we are looking for

IBJ is looking for a Myanmar Country Director to assume leadership of our 35+ local legal staff and support staff in 5 locations. Myanmar national and non-Myanmar candidates are invited to apply. Working closely with experienced senior Myanmar staff, other in-country international legal aid experts, and with the Geneva-based headquarters team, the Country Director will be tasked with overseeing programmatic, financial, and reporting activities, as well as legal training, and monitoring and evaluation in Myanmar. This person will have at least ten-years’ experience in criminal legal aid provision and at least five-years’ experience in the access to justice/legal empowerment/rule of law sector in developing country contexts, including programmatic management. Given the fragile situation in Myanmar, the successful candidate will need to be sensitive to local lawyers’ concerns, adept at engaging with governmental actors, and aware of the need to empower clients and other stakeholders. As we are prioritizing the development of local leadership, a non-Myanmar Country Director will have to be comfortable “stepping back” to allow such leadership to develop, as well as “standing firm” to ensure that the IBJ values and mission are implemented. All candidates must be comfortable encouraging a collaborative and empowering team culture.

What the Country Director will be doing

The Country Director will have over-all management responsibility for a substantial legal aid project. The Country Director will lead and coordinate the operations at our five Justice Centres to ensure the provision of quality criminal legal defense representation and assistance in target communities, lawyer capacity building, justice sector advocacy and eventual project nationalization and independence. The Country Director will:
• Develop and implement IBJ Myanmar’s overall program strategy in consultation with IBJ’s CEO and International Program Director;
• Oversee the implementation of the programmatic work plan, analyzing and anticipating delays and challenges, and proposing adjustments to the International Program Director as required;
• Ensure all activities and operations are in compliance with grant requirements and IBJ policies & procedures.
• Develop and implement IBJ Myanmar’s budget in consultation with IBJ’s International Program Director, International Director of Finance, and the supervisor to the national Senior Finance Manager;
• Lead the overall management of the program, including substantive and administrative matters, to ensure the effective, efficient and timely delivery of all activities and results. This includes overseeing local staff charged with legal service delivery, with contracting, and with hiring and other Human Resource matters;
• Provide advice and oversight to the IBJ staff as they develop and implement training and capacity-building activities to help the criminal defense lawyers deliver more effective legal aid and access to justice services to the poor;
• Oversee the creation of new training and programmatic resources and the revisions of existing ones;
• Ensure the existence and implementation of monitoring and evaluation systems and procedures that satisfy internal and external needs, including quarterly and annual reports;

• Represent IBJ to relevant parties in Myanmar including: the donor; governmental entities including the Office of the Attorney General, Union Legal Aid Board (ULAB), Ministry of Home Affairs (Police) and the Supreme Court of the Union of Myanmar, as well as international and national non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations working in the rule of law, access to justice, and justice education arenas;
• In collaboration with the Director of Strategy and Advocacy, Senior Legal Advisor, and Legal Director, analyze the Myanmar criminal justice system needs, including but not limited to legislative reform, training initiatives, programs to strengthen delivery of legal services to children, women and men, including minorities, and other reform strategies;
• And perhaps most importantly, focus on developing the leadership capacity of the local staff, including those at headquarters and the senior lawyers at each of the Justice Centres.

Key Relationships

• Internally, the Country Director reports to the International Programme Director in Geneva. In Myanmar the Country Director will collaborate closely with the Director of Strategy and Advocacy, an experienced Dutch lawyer who is tasked with front-line lawyers’ capacity- building and external justice sector advocacy. The Country Director will be able to rely upon the counsel of our national Senior Legal Advisor, a nationally prominent Myanmar lawyer. At headquarters, the Country Director will work closely with and supervise the Senior Finance Manager. The National Programme Coordinator, a licensed lawyer with her own programmatic portfolio, will be the Country Director’s primary interpreter (if necessary) and liaison with field staff. If the Country Director hired is non-Myanmar, the Country Director will hire and mentor a high-level experienced Myanmar lawyer as National Legal Director/Deputy as a key step towards project independence.
• Externally, the Country Director will liaison with the Senior Advisor for Legal Aid and her team at the MyJustice (the donor), the Union Legal Aid Board and other governmental actors.

Conditions of the Position

The IBJ Myanmar Country Director will be based out of IBJ Myanmar’s head office in Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar. The Country Director will be expected to travel regularly throughout the country and will be responsible for completing the following activities in all our project sites in Mandalay, Hpa-An, Taungoo, Taunggyi and Nay Pyi Taw.
If non-Myanmar, The Country Director will work as an independent consultant for IBJ. While working in Myanmar, the Country Director will be seconded to IBJ’s locally registered legal entity, IBJ Myanmar. The consultancy agreement will be augmented by a parallel Myanmar employment contract which describes the Country Director’s rights and responsibilities, including payment of local taxes, under Myanmar law. A Myanmar national hire will receive a Myanmar-compliant employment contract from IBJ Myanmar. The initial contract will be for one year, with extensions being dependent on performance and available funding.

The following is required for a successful candidate:

• A Law Degree (LLB, JD or equivalent)
• At least five years of experience in the area of program management and administration;
• Demonstrated commitment to criminal defense and the rule of law;
• Criminal defense experience, including criminal trial practice, for at least 10 years;
• Excellent spoken and written English language skills;
• Project and time-management skills – able to develop clear program plans and manage multiple activities at the same time, against set milestones;
• Human resource management experience;
• Capacity-building and interactive training experience;
• Experience in development work, including grant writing and fundraising;
• Experience in development of high-level partnerships and negotiation skills with the State and other sectors;
• Demonstrated ability to work constructively and gently with local staff.

The following is desired:

• Experience in working with the criminal justice system in Myanmar;
• Burmese language skills;


To apply, please send a statement of interest and CV (including references) either via email to: internationalbridges@ibj.org, or via mail to: International Bridges to Justice, 64 rue de Monthoux, CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.

Deadline for applications: 10th February 2020.