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When I have run advocacy campaign training in the past, an early obstacle can be the issue of definitions.

So when I was at a conference recently in Manchester, I was very taken by the definitions offered by Justin Nsengiyumva from Refugee Action who runs their TRIO project.

Firstly he suggested that a policy is a plan, course of action or set of regulations adopted by government, business or an institution designed to influence and determine decisions or procedures. He argued that a policy is what a government or institution decides to do or not to do.

He then suggested that advocacy is the deliberative process of influencing those who make policy decisions.

Within this definition, he suggested that there were several key ideas:

Advocacy is about influencing those who make policy decisions by making full use of all the advocacy tools available. It is not always just about being confrontational.

Advocacy is a deliberative process involving intentional actions and therefore you must be clear who you are trying to influence and which policy you wish to see changed.

The policy makers encompass many types of decision makers and we should never forget in our advocacy strategies that policy makers are human beings too.

Finally Justin highlighted three concepts that underpin the need for advocacy campaigns:

1.      To create policies where they are needed or none exist

2.      To reform harmful or ineffective policies

3.      To ensure that good policies are implemented and enforced

What do you make of this approach? Is it helpful to your planning?