Rolling: Pro Bono Research Opportunity with Open Society Foundations

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To apply, please email with a resume and cover letter.

** For more information about NYU Law’s pro bono credit requirements, click here:

Description of your organization

The Open Society Justice Initiative, a litigation and law center housed within the Open Society Foundations, strives to ensure that the law, too often an instrument of power alone, is shaped and employed in the service of justice.

Unlike the rest of the Foundations, we do not give grants; we take action in our own name. 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 establish and strengthen the law’s protection for all.

Working with partners, we also document violations, propose and pilot solutions, engage policymakers, and offer assistance that draws on our global legal experience, including supporting efforts to extend access to justice to all. With offices around the world, we work in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe on a wide range of issues, including:

➢ national security and human rights ➢ citizenship and equality ➢ criminal justice reform ➢ climate justice ➢ combatting corruption ➢ protection for migrants ➢ economic justice ➢ freedom of information and expression ➢ international justice for grave crimes ➢ access to justice ➢ strengthening international human rights institutions.

Overview of the research topic and scope

Hundreds of billions of dollars of private and public investment are being channeled into energy, infrastructure, transportation and other projects in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that have negative impacts on the climate, and disproportionately on marginalized populations.

Research projects:

Climate accountability in South Africa

May corporate directors be held accountability for climate change risks under South Africa Law? Could Sections 29(2) and 76 (3) of the South African Companies Act be interpreted to impose a duty for directors to take into account climate risks in decision-making? Would such risks be relevant as material financial information or as material climate information? What are directors’ duties under the National Environmental Management Act, in regard to negative environmental impact caused by the company or close corporation which they represent? If there are directors’ duties, would they extend to directors of financial corporations?

UN norms on banks’ climate due diligence

Which human rights and climate due diligence norms have UN Human Rights’ Committees established for financial institutions? Have they covered different roles assumed by financial institutions (e.g. bookrunner in the capital markets, provider of general loans, shareholder) while supporting projects and corporations with human rights and climate negative impact? Does the UN recognize extra-territorial obligations of financial institutions in such instances? Does it issue specific recommendations on due diligence norms for such institutions?

Relevance of the project

This research help answer a question central to the Justice Initiative’s work on climate justice: What are the most promising avenues for litigation to hold corporations responsible for the anthropogenic climate crisis? This research project offers the opportunity to apply fact and law to one of the most important issues facing your generation – climate change. It is the source of one of history’s most egregious injustices (the poor paying for the safety and comfort of the rich) and the cause of many human rights abuses, from the right to life to the right to a clean and stable environment.

The results of the research will help inform the Justice Initiative’s decision-making in setting litigation priorities and crafting legal advocacy strategies for its climate justice work for the next several years.

Links to relevant websites:

Open Society Justice Initiative

Open Society Foundations

Preferences for language skills and professional experience

Project on corporate accountability in South Africa

➢ Familiarity with South African Law.

➢ Familiarity with financial institutions and corporate accountability principles.

Project on UN norms regarding banks’ climate due diligence

➢ Familiarity with International Human Rights Law and/or

➢ Familiarity with financial institutions and corporate accountability principles.