Coalitions – partnerships for change
This chapter provides a short overview of what we mean by global civil society coalitions. We provide a very brief summary of some of the issues such coalitions have worked on, their major achievements and their subsequent development.
The challenges of starting something new
Starting a new coalition is an exciting and motivating process. Despite having it all to do, making that first step should feel like a big leap towards achieving important goals. But this is also a time when decisions are made and ways of working adopted that can affect how the group will operate for years to come. This chapter considers some of the important issues involved in getting a coalition off the ground.
Coalition structure
As a coalition develops, the way that collective decisions are made and a collective voice is adopted will be fundamental to its campaigning effectiveness. Much will depend on how the coalition is structured, what different groups are responsible for making decisions, who is allowed to speak for the coalition and what rules or practices govern decision making.
A first funding proposal
This short section considers some of challenges of preparing a first funding proposal on behalf of a coalition. It focuses on issues specific to coalition work – so there are many aspects of general fundraising that are not considered here.
The external context
Previous chapters have focused mainly on issues of internal organisation. This chapter looks outwards, to consider some key issues regarding external context – that is the configuration of discussions between states or other actors within which the coalition is operating. Given the extent to which the specific subject matter of a coalition’s work will affect external issues, this section focuses on a few broad points that might have general relevance.
A collective voice
This chapter focuses on maximising the key feature of an effective coalition – its ability to engage diverse partners in coordinated collective action. It will probably be the coalition’s members who provide a direct link to the issues being worked on and who are pushing the urgent need for reform. Through these members, political engagement can be built up in different countries.
Organisation and logistics
An effective coalition campaign requires effective logistics. When the logistics operation functions well few people notice, yet poor logistics can undermine the credibility of the coalition with its own members, with its funders and with those it is trying to influence. Carefully executed logistics and organisation plays an active role in assisting coalition building as well as campaign implementation.
The future of the coalition
Many coalitions are established to achieve certain defined goals, and as the coalition’s work progresses these can come to be embodied in the struggle for certain legal or policy changes. Yet policy and legal changes are often one step removed from the changes to practice that need to occur if an issue is to be effectively addressed.
As a summary of some of the reflections on coalition work included in this text, we offer in this chapter ten insights on coalition campaign work drawn from our experience working to ban cluster munitions.