This is an 8-month fellowship at the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) where the fellow’s output will be an online resource that tracks the progress of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) in every country in the world and flags their risks for civil liberties, with a focus on authoritarian regimes. The fellowship will be a contractor position at HRF.
CBDCs are an evolution of national currency whereby central banks and monetary authorities are considering replacing physical cash that circulates through the public as a liability of the central bank with a digital counterpart which would reside mainly in the mobile phones of citizens. CBDCs are different from existing fintech and commercially-issued money in as much as they are direct liabilities of the central bank, not ledger entries in a private balance sheet. CBDCs provide increased ability for governments to employ direct surveillance, censorship, and social engineering. They represent a dangerous attack on human rights, especially in authoritarian regimes.
The Chinese Communist Party’s CBDC project already, as of October 2022, has reportedly more than 300 million pilot users. HRF expects most major governments to roll out some version of the CBDC project in the coming 5 years. We are concerned about the human rights impact of this development, especially in dictatorships, where paper cash acts as a last bastion of transaction and social freedom.
The fellow will build an online interactive resource that allows a visitor to search or click on each country and learn about their progress on CBDCs. The visitor will be presented with a few highlight items in each country’s entry summarizing the specific civil liberties risks due to CBDC progress. The fellow will need to devise a method for tracking the progress of CBDCs in different countries: for example, perhaps by color, where green represents no progress, yellow represents research and experimentation, and red represents wide-scale rollout. The online directory will be a resource for policymakers, journalists, and activists worldwide.
This 8 month fellowship will carry a grant of $100,000, payable in USD or equivalent in Bitcoin. The fellow will report directly to HRF’s Chief Advocacy Officer and Chief Strategy Officer.
The fellow will not be responsible for the website development itself, but will be responsible for finding a suitable developer and managing the entire process. All content will be approved by HRF’s policy team before release. Upon completion of the fellowship, there will be a possibility for the fellow to remain on retainer for part-time work, to keep the website updated on a quarterly basis.
Applicants should have a demonstrable economic and technical understanding of CBDCs and should have academic or professional research they can point to with a similar scope and content matter.
To apply, please send a cover letter and a resume to [email protected]
Deadline to apply is January 15, 2023.