What should be the mission statement or ‘call’?
A mission statement or ‘call’ is a brief text that frames the work of the coalition. It will probably be with the coalition throughout its life and so is a vital early milestone in coalition development. The call will likely contain both a statement of the problem and the key points of a proposed solution to the problem. The call may also indicate the types of actors who should be responsible for enacting a solution, and the types of framework within which a solution should be established (e.g. behavioural change, policy change at a national level, change to international law). All of these elements can be important for framing the coalition’s future work. At its most basic level, the call can be used to constrain or discourage approaches that fall outside of this formulation – setting boundaries to the coalition’s remit.
WHAT ARE WE ALL WORKING FOR?
A coalition’s call should be sufficiently detailed to limit the potential for disagreement on fundamental points. While a coalition will necessarily house divergent opinions on strategy and policy, there needs to be sufficient direction derived from the agreed call to keep differences of opinion within a manageable framework.
Lack of clarity in a call can result in a coalition providing an umbrella for interests that are too divergent to work together effectively. However, the call should still function fundamentally as a framing tool – not as a detailed statement of policy. There will likely be much that needs to be worked through and discussed in detail within the framework established by the call.
It may be preferable to adopt a call among a small core group of NGOs initiating a coalition rather than waiting to attempt this within a wide community. The initial group needs to be big enough and diverse enough in its thinking to shape the call effectively and to give some legitimacy to the text. It can then be used as a basis for inviting a wider group of NGOs to participate in the coalition effort.
“When setting goals you need to make sure that your goal references the actual change you want to see, not the instrument that will achieve that change. So the goal should be to end the destructive practice, not to get a treaty. The treaty is a means to an end, and is therefore a secondary objective. I say this, because when we campaigned for a moratorium on deep sea-bottom trawling we got something that wasn’t quite a moratorium, but if fully implemented would have spelled an end to such trawling on vulnerable ecosystems. Since we’d set ourselves up to campaign for a moratorium it appeared to be a failure, when in fact it was a landmark, paradigm-changing agreement in relation to high seas ocean governance.”
Kelly Rigg, Climate Action Network and formerly the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition