Call for Applications: Consultant to carry out Assessments in Democratic Republic of Congo

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AfricanDefenders would like to carry out an assessment of the situation of human rights and civic space in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as an assessment of the protection needs of human rights defenders (HRDs).

DRC, which continuously appears in the bottom ranks of global indices on governance and the rule of law[1], continues to be extremely fragile by the attribution of key government positions on the basis on the basis of patronage politics, de facto lack of ‘checks and balances’ and deeply-entrenched systemic corruption. Fundamental weaknesses in the country’s democratic structures and values impede people’s participation in political processes and their access to decision-making. Repression and violence against political opponents, human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists and civil society actors are commonplace, especially during election periods. Impunity for those who commit human rights violations and failures in the justice system creates an environment of intense insecurity and stress for HRDs, for whom seeking justice is virtually futile. It is also extremely perilous for civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate given the threats and intimidation they face.

To enable DefendDefenders/AfricanDefenders to define an interventions strategy that respond in a relevant way to the needs of HRDs and the challenges facing CSOs, it is first necessary to carry out a study on the situation of human rights and civic space in the country. The objective is to make a diagnosis of the protection needs of HRDs to provide a basis for the planning process of specific interventions to be undertaken.

As a pan-African network for the coordination of activities in the field of protection, capacity building of national and sub-regional networks for the protection of HRDs and advocacy at the continental and international levels, AfricanDefenders will be responsible for carrying out this study.



  • Establish a diagnosis of the situation of human rights and civic space in the DRC and of the protection needs of HRDs and CSOs involved in the protection of HRDs
  • Develop an intervention strategy for AfricanDefenders to contribute to an enabling environment for HRDs in the DRC


Terms of reference

The study will consist of several stages:

(a) Investigative work to assess the gaps in the protection of HRDs most at risk and the needs of CSOs involved in the protection of HRDs;

(b) Research work on the environment of HRDs at the national level, risk factors, and the categories of HRDs most at risk;

(c) A review of pre-existing mechanisms for the protection of HRDs at the national level;

(d) An analysis of diplomatic support to HRDs at the national level;

(e) Concrete recommendations with proposed action points to meet the needs of HRDs and CSOs involved in the protection of HRDs.


This will involve:

  • Collecting and analysing up-to-date information on trends and developments on the situation of HRDs in the country;
  • Document protection gaps and resource needs among CSOs active in the protection of HRDs. This will involve mapping ongoing protection activities as well as reviewing the external and internal operational challenges they face;
  • On the basis of the observations made, propose concrete recommendations to meet the needs of HRDs and CSOs involved in the protection of HRDs

The study will be based on desk research and interviews with HRDs, CSOs and other actors operating in the field of human rights protection.


Develop a report documenting the situation of HRDs in the country, the external and internal constraints hampering the functioning of CSOs involved in the protection of HRDs, the capacity of these CSOs to ensure quality protection and the feasibility of creating a national coalition for human rights defenders in the DRC.


The final report is due for completion by 1 November 2021. All deliverables generated as part of this study will become the property of AfricanDefenders.



The consultancy will attract a reasonable remuneration. Applicants are however expected to provide a budget that includes their proposed remuneration in the application. Selected consultants will be paid 30% of the agreed consultancy fees upon signing the agreement, another 30% upon receipt of the draft report and the balance upon the receipt of the finalised deliverables.

Mode of application

The consultant must be a practitioner, specialist or analyst, with appropriate university degrees, not below a Masters degree. Interested consultants should submit their applications electronically, including full Curricula Vitae (detailing qualifications and work experience), work-plan and budget, by email to Flora Stevens ([email protected]) and copy to Joseph Bikanda ([email protected]) before 31 May 2021.

[1]  World Bank, Democratic Republic of Congo – Systematic Country Diagnostic 2018. In the IIAG rankings on governance, DR Congo stands on the 47th place out of 54 African countries. On rule of law, DR Congo scores 3.37, while the sub-saharan African average stands at 31.

DR Congo is ranked 168th / 180 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2019.

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