Is effective use being made of key individuals?
Coalitions can draw on a wide range of individuals in their advocacy work. It’s important to identify the individuals with particular skills and personal stories and to encourage them to be active where they can make the most impact.
- Do you have a list of individuals within the coalition that are experts on certain issues and available to speak to the media or undertake lobbying meetings?
- Is it always the same people representing the coalition in high-level meetings and in the media or are there diverse faces of the coalition?
- Are the key individuals able to fund themselves to travel and undertake activities? If not does the coalition have the capacity to support them financially?
People who have been directly affected by the problem that the coalition is trying to solve can be particularly powerful, such as landmine or cluster munition survivors, but there is a lot to think about when involving such individuals.
Engagement of survivors should be based on principles of dignity and respect. A sense of exploitation can emerge if a campaign brings in survivors to speak at a conference and then simply sends them home again – as a one-off walk-on part. Campaigns should develop the capacity of individuals so that they are primarily campaigners rather than primarily survivors. Options to consider include:
- Support networks, including peer-to-peer support
- Logistical requirements – accessibility of accommodation, transport and venues
- Lobbying, media and public speaking training
This can mean substantial commitments of funding and staff time and should not be entered into lightly.
THE WORK OF SURVIVORS WITHIN THE CMC
Facilitated by Handicap International, the ‘Ban Advocates’ project ensured that individual survivors regularly participated in conferences and spoke out on behalf of the CMC. These campaigners – some who had lost limbs, lost eyesight, lost children and other family members – not only influenced decision makers in governments, they helped motivate people inside the campaign and reminded all campaigners why they were working on this issue. Ensuring that campaigning and advocacy processes include these actors is vital in order to ensure legitimacy and relevance and can be critical to the success of an initiative, but it also presents challenges.