Advocacy and campaigning techniques for NGOs in Central and Eastern European countries in Transition






Report and recommendations













Supported  by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands and UNHCR




October 2001











Advocacy and campaigning techniques for NGOs in Central and Eastern European countries in Transition


Report and recommendations


Supported  by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands and UNHCR



1. Introduction

The report and recommendations contained in this document are based on a seminar held from September 10th to 12th 2001 by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, with the financial support of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands, entitled “Advocacy and campaigning techniques for NGOs in Central and Eastern European countries in Transition”. The seminar was held at the Hotel ‘Sarunas’, Vilnius, Lithuania. As stated in the project proposal approved by the WFD, the aim of the project was to “improve the capacity of NGOs in the region to promote and protect the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and other disadvantaged groups by making effective representations to officials, including politicians, government ministers and civil servants, and to allow them to learn about the tools used in running focused and targeted public campaigns”. This aim was to be achieved in the following ways:

·      Exploring examples of good practice already existing in the region;

·      Introducing the participants to examples successful campaigning and lobbying techniques from Western Europe;

·      Encouraging participants to explore together how they would campaign or lobby on a specific issue related to the rights of refugees or asylum-seekers.


To reach this end, ECRE invited 18 participants from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and two trainers from Western Europe who led the discussions. All the participants were professional members of staff of Ngos in Central and Eastern Europe concerned with refugees, asylum-seekers and other categories of forced migrants. They included:


Lydia Grafova

Forum of Migrants’ Organisations, Russia

·      Jelena Karzetskaja

Legal Information Centre for Human Rights, Estonia

Dobromira Naydenova

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

·      Evgeny Grabko

Solidarnost, Russia

·      Aleksandr Fedorenko

Edelweiss, Ukraine

·      Svetlana Petrova

Caritas Kaliningrad, Russia

·      Mihai Potoroaca

Society of Refugees of the Republic of Moldova

·      Andrey Chuprikov

ADRA Ukraine

·      Lucia Ruzova

OPU Slovakia

·      Florentina Covaliu

Romanian National Council for Refugees

·      Tetyana Mazur

Human Rights Without Borders, Ukraine

·      Vladimir Kravchenko

Belarusian Movement of Medical Workers (Minsk)

·      Vladimir Sobolev

Belarusian Movement of Medical Workers (Vitebsk)

·      Audrone Sileikyte

Lithuanian Red Cross

·      Laurynas Bieksa

Lithuanian Red Cross

·      Margarita Petrossian

Memorial Human Rights Centre, Russia

·      Cristian Lazar

ARCA, Romania

Dimitar Krastev Zafirov

Bulgarian Red Cross


The trainers included Bill Seary, consultant to ECRE, and Jessica Yudilevich, Head of Public Affairs at the British Refugee Council. Administrative support for the meeting was provided by Daniel Drake, Project officer for Eastern Europe at ECRE, with the kind assistance of the Lithuanian Red Cross. The working languages of the seminar were English and Russian.


2. Monday 10th September

After a welcome reception on the evening of Sunday 9th September, the workshop began on Monday 10th September. All participants were given a welcome pack containing agenda, participants’ list, name badge, notepad, pen and handout material with key words to remember in the process of lobbying. A copy of this material appears in Annex 1. At the start of the seminar Daniel Drake from ECRE gave an introduction to the workshop, mentioning that the focus of the seminar was to be on campaigning, lobbying and working with the media. The results of the seminar would be the sharing of experience but there would also be an element of joint planning which would lead to a series of written recommendations. Jessica Yudilevich of the British Refugee Council (BRC) then introduced herself, referring to the ways in which advocacy techniques had changed in the last few years to take account of the increased media interest in refugee issues. Bill Seary then gave an introduction to his role as trainer and facilitator of the seminar, stating that he had spent all his life working in or around NGOs, and that experience had shown him that opinions within the group were often more relevant to the participants than assistance offered from outside, and that therefore a major aspect of his role was to give the participants a chance to learn from each other. Participants then split into pairs and were given ten minutes to introduce themselves to each other before reporting back in plenary.

Following this, participants were asked in plenary what they expected from the seminar. The results appear below:

Expectations of the seminar


·       ·          Information on legislation on lobbying

·       ·          How are lobbying activities defined?

·       ·          Techniques for meeting lobbying targets

·       ·          Work with mass media and influencing public opinion

·       ·          Advocacy in local authorities

·       ·          How to influence implementation of legislation once first target of passing legislation has been reached

·       ·          How to identify points of mutual activity to enable lobbying to take place

·       ·          Use of ‘creative lobbying’ techniques

·       ·          Materials and resources and how to use them

·       ·          Influencing decision-makers in ministries and raising their awareness of specific needs of refugees

·       ·          Examples of successful lobbying

·       ·          Concrete problems faced

·       ·          Definition of ‘lobbying’: is work with the media included if it has limited influence on decision-makers?

















Participants were then split into two groups according to language ability, and given a copy of a document produced by participants at an NGO planning meeting held by ECRE for NGOs in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine in St Petersburg in June 2001.  A copy of this document is attached in Annex 2. The document gives a definition of lobbying and participants were asked to discuss it and decide whether they agreed with the definition or whether other aspects needed to be added to the definition. The results of this discussion are given below:





























Bill Seary then offered his own definition of lobbying, suggesting that lobbying was “helping those people responsible for taking decisions to take the right decisions”. Advocacy, in contrast, was a wider activity not specifically designed to influence a certain decision-making process. It was agreed that in certain countries of Central and Eastern Europe lobbying could be effective on a regional level even if it was not effective on a national level. The force behind the lobbyist is that he or she believes they are supporting a cause which is ‘right’, and can supply arguments to prove this. Hence, a crucial part of successful lobbying is being able to provide good argumentation.


In the final part of the Monday session, participants were divided into three working groups and given the first part of a three-part exercise to complete. The exercise appears overleaf.


Small group exercise 1


You are a group of people working for refugee-assisting NGOs in a major city. Over the last five years your city has received considerable numbers of people (mainly women and children) displaced from various conflicts in other countries.


Some of the arrivals have now been recognised as refugees and their children are able to attend local schools on roughly the same terms as local children.


However many of the arrivals have problems with accessing refugee recognition procedures and, even when they achieve this, the procedure is slow and the results at first instance are often negative. These families have difficulty finding school places for their children. The experience varies a bit but normally either they are not admitted at all or they find that they are expected to pay for the education at a rate appropriate for foreigners with good jobs. As a result some of the children involved have not has any education for over a year.


At the national level, the education authorities give conflicting advice and instructions about the status of these children.


At the very local level, you have found that the heads of schools are often sympathetic. However in recent months the heads have been coming under pressure from the city administration to exclude all foreign children unless they have refugee status and their family had a residence permit for the city.


Your country has acceded to the 1951 Geneva Convention, with the 1967 Protocol, to many UN human rights conventions (including the Convention on the Rights of the Child) and to the European Convention on Human Rights (with individual petition). International conventions, once ratified, take precedence over all national legislation apart from the constitution. All courts should apply them.


Multi-party democracy has been established in your country for ten years now. However, although there is a city council and an elected Mayor, real power in local government is still dependent upon personalities.



1 Agree as a group what situation you would like to see in five year's time with regard to the education of the children of displaced people.


2 Identify as many as you can of the possible ways of working towards that situation.


3 Identify one SPECIFIC change you would like to achieve by the end of the current academic year.






































The results were as follows:


Group 1


·       1.         All asylum-seeker children should have free access to education, and this right is guaranteed

·       2.         This aim should be achieved through:

o      ·          Meetings with local authorities

o      ·          Trainings for local authorities

o      ·          Media activity (TV, radio, newspapers)

o      ·          Position paper

o      ·          Public meetings

§       3.        In a year’s time, instructions from local authorities should be harmonised


Group 2

·       1.        Strategic goal: To realise in practice the right afforded in international law for children to attend school regardless of the legal status of their parents

·       2.        Means of realisation:

o      ·          To encourage national legislation to be in line with international norms

o      ·          To put pressure on local authorities with the aim of reserving illegal restrictions on education

o      ·          Individual contact with the directors of schools

o      ·          Create a positive image in society of refugees

o      ·          Win court cases on the right to education

o      ·          Fight in the courts legislation restricting the right to education

o      ·          Organising alternative programmes of study

o      ·          Technical support to schools with refugee children

o      ·          Speed up the process of gaining legal status for refugees

§       3.        Concrete change: Prevent illegal pressure from some parts of the local adminstration


Group 3


·       1.         All children must have access to school and secondary education in the given city

·       2.         Means of realisation:

o      ·          Trial class

o      ·          Developing a tolerant attitude towards refugees

o      ·          Formation of a legislative basis at the level of the local administration

o      ·          Provision of information to the public

o      ·          Collecting information on the decision-makers

o      ·          Precedent-setting legal decision

o      ·          Lobbying of local administration

o      ·          Making a complaint to a human rights ombudsman

o      ·          Preparing an individual dossier of case studies

·                                              3.      Prevent children from being excluded from school













































3. Tuesday 11th September


The second day of the seminar began with a presentation by Jessica Yudilevich, Head of Public Affairs at the British Refugee Council. She began by stating that an organisation such as the BRC, which provides direct assistance is also well-placed to use that experience in developing lobbying and advocacy activities. However, she stated that NGOs must be clear about the ultimate goal of their lobbying. Her first presentation focused on running an effective campaign. She stated that NGOs must answer the following questions in order to run as effective a campaign as possible:


·      Do they know and understand the political climate in the target area?

·      Is a campaign really needed to bring about change?

·      What are the short and long-term objectives of the campaign?

·      Who or what are the targets of the campaign?


Jessica began answering these questions by looking at different lobbying tools. One such tool, she said, was the research report. Such a report should involve research on a specific issue. Although the conclusions of the research may already be widely known, the fact that they are corroborated by an academic document adds weight to the argument. An example of such a report, for example, could be an analysis of the conditions for asylum-seekers dispersed in certain parts of the UK. However, Jessica also stated that most journalists and decision-makers were unlikely ever to read the whole report, and therefore it was essential to produce a summary of the main conclusions.


A second such campaigning resource were letter-writing campaigns. Supporters of the campaign would be encouraged to write letters of support to local MPs, or to fill in specially produced postcards and send them to Parliament. An example of this kind of campaign in the UK was designed to put pressure on the Government to rethink its policy of giving vouchers rather than cash to asylum-seekers.


The BRC has run two campaigns in 2001, the first to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, and the second a campaign against vouchers for asylum-seekers. Jessica referred to the need to create effective coalitions in order to promote a specific campaign. Aside from the postcards mentioned above, the BRC has worked with the Body Shop in the UK to provide information on refugees in their shops. They have also co-operated with trade unions in order to gain access to the Labour Party conference in 2000. It was decided that a party conference was a very successful way of putting pressure on the Government ‘from within’, that is through its grass-roots supporters in the party itself. In September and October 2001 the BRC expects to attend all the major party conferences to encourage them to address refugee issues seriously and compassionately.


Another campaigning method referred to by Jessica was the petition. However, she pointed out that petitions by themselves carried little weight, as the government receives hundreds of petitions a year. The trick, she said, was to combine the petition with some other event which might attract the attention of the media, which in the case of the BRC meant making a giant birthday cake to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees.


Jessica then talked about organising a Refugee Week, to give a sustained programme of awareness-raising activities. She said that it was very useful for such an event to involve a variety of different media. For example, the 2001 Refugee Week in the UK involved a series of films shown at the National Film Theatre, as well as art exhibitions, street music and debates on asylum issues. Further elements of a Refugee Day or Week could include exhibitions of food from the region of origin of groups of refugees, and using this opportunity to provide more information on countries from which refugees flee.


Finally, Jessica stated that no campaign could be effective without the provision of accurate information with which to back up statements. She gave as an example a series of briefing sheets produced by the BRC on asylum issues. Each sheet was relatively brief (around one or two pages) and contained clear answers to common questions about asylum-seekers. In particular, the briefing sheets were designed to address issues often raised in the press, so that they could be sent to journalists to counter claims made against asylum-seekers. For example, one such sheet referred to the popular statement that most asylum-seekers are ‘bogus’ by stating that over half of all asylum applicants are given some kind of legal status in the UK. In this way briefing sheets are a simple and effective way of increasing public understanding of asylum issues and representing refugees more objectively in the media.


After a coffee break, Bill Seary then introduced the second group exercise by stating that it was important, in lobbying for a specific change, to look at different ways of approaching a given problem. The group exercise is given below:


Small group exercise 2




You have decided to spend the next year trying to convince the city education authorities to instruct all schools to accept – on the same basis as refugee children - the children of people whose claim for refugee status is being considered.


Your research has shown that some of the Mayor’s close colleagues have been influential in forming the current policy of city administration and that the most effective way of countering their influence is to approach the Mayor himself.




1 List the arguments that the Mayor will find convincing


2 Identify the organisations and people most likely to be able to influence the Mayor in making this decision.


3 Highlight the ones that you may be able to influence.


4 List the arguments that will make them wish to work with you in achieving your aim.





















The results of this exercise are shown below:


Group 1

·       1.   Arguments convincing to the mayor:

o      ·          The mayor should be sympathetic to alleviating the suffering of the refugee children by helping alleviate their suffering

o      ·          Spending money on refugee children’s education is less expensive than spending money later on social security or, indeed, paying if they are driven to crime and are put into prison

o      ·          International law states that children should have the right to education regardless of their legal status

§                                                        2.      Organisations and people of support:

·                                         ·          Teachers’ organisations

·                                         ·          Organisations promoting children’s rights

·                                         ·          Churches

·                                         ·          Organisations promoting women’s rights

·                                         ·          Mayor’s wife

·                                         ·          Social centres dealing with young people

·                                         ·          City Hall Council

·                                         ·          Local journalists

·                                         ·          Representatives of ‘conservative’ parties

·                                         ·          Xenophobic groups or organisations

·                                         ·          Local leaders of the mayor’s own party























Group 2

·       1.   Arguments for the mayor:

·       ·         The present practice contradicts international legislation and national constitutional norms

·       ·         There should be no wish to create a negative image of the municipality

·       ·         Failure to give access to schools could increase criminality in the long-run

o                                                            2.   Organisations and individuals of support

§       ·         Wife of the mayor

§       ·         Head of the city’s educational institutions

§       ·         Party leaders

§       ·         Media

§       ·         NGOs

§       ·         Ministry of Education

§       ·         Businessmen

·                                               3.            Who can be influenced

o                                    · Wives and friends of local personalities

o                                    · Media

o                                    · Educational institutions

o                                    · Party leaders

§                                                                                   4.            Arguments to be used

·                                                                         · Involvement of the mayor’s wife in public activities

·                                                                         · Sensational stories

·                                                                         · Technical assistance

·                                                                         · Offering support during elections



























Group 3

·       1.   Arguments to be used

o      ·       International obligations

o      ·       All children are equal and there should be no discrimination in the education system

o      ·       The mayor’s image will be improved if she shows compassion in this issue

o      ·       Support could be given to him during elections

§        2.  Organisations and individuals to be influenced

·       ·       Deputies in the city parliament

·       ·       Deputy mayor

·       ·       People surrounding the mayor

·       ·       Legal department of the municipality

·       ·       Parents’ Committees

·       ·       School support

·       ·       NGOs

·       ·       Media

o           3.            Arguments for allies

§       ·       Parents/schools: it could be your children; it offers a chance for children to sponsor refugee children; it is good for the image of the school; it could lead to a change in the school’s status

§       ·       Municipalities/deputies: it can win votes; it will receive good coverage in the press; it will lead to reports of other work being done by the local authorities

§       ·       People surrounding the mayor: it creates a personal interest in the plight of refugees; it improves the image of the mayor

§       ·       Media: it can increase the personal interest of journalists if they already have some interest in refugee issues
























After lunch the floor was once more given to Jessica Yudilevich to speak on working with the media. She was joined by Lydia Grafova, a journalist with the Literary Gazette in Moscow who also runs the Forum of Migrants’ Organisations. Lydia spoke of the importance of a dialogue between the media and civil society in promoting the democratic process in the former Communist bloc. She said that in the old system the media often had a direct impact on government policy, but that now, in a democratic system, the media was more instrumental in influencing public opinion and the views of the electorate, who in turn influenced decision-makers through the electoral process. However, in the troubled countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Lydia added that many journalists were not interested in covering the problems of refugees because of the desperate problems facing the local population itself. In short, speaking of Russia, Lydia said that the public had had enough negative stories and were likely to be less sympathetic towards the plight of refugees because of the problems they faced themselves.


There followed a discussion on media coverage of the Chechnya conflict and, in particular, an apparent tendency on the part of some of the media to concentrate more on the suffering of the Chechen population than that of the Russian who had fled Grozny. After some discussion all participants agreed that it was essential to give fair coverage of all groups affected by conflict, but it was also admitted that, outside Chechnya, ethnic Chechens were sometimes subjected to racism and attacks by the Russian population, and that this also needed to be covered in the media.


Jessica Yudilevich then spoke on her own experiences of working with the media. She reiterated the need to base stories about refugees on real individual cases which could often be more effective than a purely abstract discussion. She then described the difference between passive and active media work. Passive media work involved answering queries from journalists and responding to requests made of the organisation. A point to bear in mind with this kind of work was the fact that journalists work under very tight deadlines. For this reason it is important to have an efficient system for dealing with journalists’ enquiries. For example, organisations should have press forms which can be filled out when a journalist makes a request. This form can then be forwarded to the relevant person to respond as necessary. Organisations should also be ready to fax statements to journalists in response to specific questions. This avoids the possibility of misquotation. These safeguards helped the BRC deal with around 700 enquiries by journalists over a six-week period in summer 2001.


Active media work is that initiated by the organisation itself, and can involve press releases and requests made by the organisation to the press for interviews. However, for this to be successful certain guidelines should be followed. When drawing up a press release NGOs should answer the questions “What? When? Who? Where? Why?”. Each press release should be no longer than one side. The first two paragraphs are most important as they may be the only part the journalist reads. The text should be preceded by a sharp, appealing headline. The press release should be double-spaced with wide margins to make it easier to read. Once the press release has been sent, follow-up telephone calls should be made to the journalists to check that they have received it. Jessica also added that it could be particularly useful to time a press release to coincide with the launch of a new document, for example a research report.


Jessica stated that, in the UK, press conferences were a less useful tool than contact with individual journalists. The reason was that journalists were less likely to agree to be in a certain place at a specific time, but more willing to have contact with NGOs from their offices. However, in discussion it was clear that in several countries of Central and Eastern Europe press conferences were still a good way of gaining the attention of the press. For example, in Bulgaria expectations of refugee flows from the conflict in Macedonia led journalists to go out of their way to gain more information about refugees in the country, even leading them to travel a long way out of Sofia to visit refugee summer camps. Jessica ended the session by giving some general advice on talking to journalists, mentioning in particular that, to the journalist, there was no such thing as talking ’off the record’. The day ended with a social event for all the participants.


4. Wednesday 12th September


The final day of the seminar began with the third group exercise. This was a continuation of the first two group exercises, involving a role-play for three of the participants in each group. The task is outlined below:


Small group exercise 3




As a result of your efforts, the Mayor has agreed to see three of you in his office for ten minutes so that you can present your arguments for extending school admission to the children of asylum seekers.


Your research has shown that the Mayor’s main concern is with the high level of unemployment in your city. He was a University professor, specialising in constitutional law, before a conservative party persuaded him to run for office as Mayor five years ago. His first term of office coincided with a period when a number of new businesses opened in the city, which brought economic improvements and a reduced crime rate. He was re-elected eighteen months ago and comes up for election again next year. He has the reputation of being honest, though some of his party were recently rumoured to be involved in diverting funds intended for improving school buildings to the upkeep of their own properties. The Mayor is married with two grown up sons, both of whom are practising lawyers.




1 Agree exactly what you will ask the Mayor to do. Decide what line to take if he categorically refuses to agree to it.


2 List the organisations you represent and decide which three to send to the meeting.


3 Agree what arguments and tactics these three should use in the meeting.




























There were two ‘delegations’ of three participants each nominated to meet the ‘mayor’ during the actual role play. Both delegations involved ‘representatives’ of different groups concerned with education and refugee issues. The first delegation included: a social scientist who had produced a research report on the link between access to education and reductions in the crime rate; a representative of a children’s charity; and a teacher who worked in a school where refugees studied. This group worked effectively when there appeared to be a risk that the “mayor” would talk non-stop through the allotted time. They introduced several persuasive arguments to convince the mayor to address the issue of access to education for refugee children. They mentioned that allowing children access to schools reduced the chances of unemployment amongst the refugee population, made children less likely to resort to crime and illegal business to earn a living, and allowed them to contribute to the local economy. This group also referred to the fact that making a statement on this issue could improve the mayor’s profile and make him appear as a leader committed to human rights. Lastly they pushed successfully for the mayor to agree to a follow on meeting. However, one criticism made of the group afterwards was that they were unwilling to use concrete examples to back up their arguments, even though this would have made their case even more persuasive. It was also suggested that they had come close to threatening the mayor with electoral consequences if he did not take the action requested.


The second delegation included: a lawyer who had studied under the mayor when he had been a university lecturer; a representative of a parents’ committee; and a local politician loyal to the mayor’s party. This group took a different approach. They first referred to the obligations under international law for children to have the right to education regardless of the legal status of their parents, then spoke of the good relations between refugee children and local children which in turn encouraged the local population to take a stronger interest in foreign cultures. They also referred to the votes the mayor could gain if he supported education for refugee children, as he would appear in public as a humane, compassionate leader. However, a criticism made of the group afterwards was that they took a rather ‘heavy-handed’ approach to the meeting early on, referring to international law in a way which seemed quite confrontational, and this could have alienated the mayor from the arguments the group was trying to put forward.


The participants then broke into three groups to discuss three thematic topics nominated by the participants themselves. These topics were: producing and using written materials; working with the media; and having face-to-face meetings.


Each group had the task of producing a series of recommendations on the topic of their choice. These recommendations are reproduced in Annexes 3-5.


This task was followed by the final, evaluation section of the seminar. Participants were asked to list the most valuable aspects of the seminar for them. These appear below:


Most valuable aspects of the seminar

·       ·          Meeting with the mayor

·       ·          Presentations by the British Refugee Council

·       ·          Friendly atmosphere

·       ·          Lobbying techniques as explored in the group exercises

·       ·          Simplification of complex issues in the handout materials

·       ·          Balance between using own style and working towards a common aim

·       ·          Practical nature of the work

·       ·          Professionalism of the participants












Participants were also asked to complete an evaluation form, the results of which appear in Annex 6.


Annex 1: Handout material


1. Planning a Campaign


Know What You Want to Happen


Know Where You are Coming From


Know Who Matters


Know What in particular You Want to Happen




2. The Tactics of Lobbying 1


Find the pathways


Variations on a theme




know the issues


know your cases


know the structures


know the opposition

3. The Tactics of Lobbying 2


Get the timing right


Get the level right


Get the right person


Know your strength


Tell what you want


Avoid confrontation


Review, review, review.....



4. Effective materials


The need


The message


The audience


The medium


The cost





5. Face to Face


Listen, listen, listen....


Control the conversation


Let them be nice


Match them


Be yourself



6. The Power Argument

after Gerry Spence


1 Prepare

Prepare until you have become the argument


2 Open the other to receive your argument

Remind them that they have a choice


3 Give the argument in the form of a story

People are conditioned to listen to stories


4 Tell the truth

Credibility is power


5 Say what you want

Do not leave them guessing


6 Avoid sarcasm, scorn and ridicule; use humour cautiously

Respect is reciprocal


7 Logic is power

Do not give up creativity for logic. However the creative mind will soon see that creativity is often served by logic.


8 Action and winning are brothers

Take the initiative. Do something. Do not defend when you can attack, but attack issues, not people.


9 Admit at the outset the weak points in your argument

An honest admission endows you with credibility. It also leaves your opponents with less to attack with.


10 Understand your power

But remember, arrogance, insolence and stupidity are close relations.

7. After the Meeting










Celebrate - but don't gloat


Move on




Annex 2: Lobbying and implementation (from NGO planning meeting, St Petersburg, June 4-5 2001)


·      The group which worked on “lobbying and implementation” looked first of all the definition of the term ‘lobbying’ itself. There was a discussion on the distinction between lobbying’ and ‘advocacy’ (ongoing protection versus representing the interests of concrete persons in regard to specific legislation). The group came to the conclusion that lobbying is an activity (influence, effect or protection), the result of which is the taking of decisions necessary for NGOs, in this case regarding the improvement of the legal and social status of refugees. These decisions are taken by those people who are targeted by the lobbyists: the government, parliament, civil servants, ministries and government bodies, local authorities and so on.

·      Methods of lobbying were also discussed. Lobbying was classified according to level (local, national, international), but also by the subject of lobbying (adopting new legislation or ratifying agreements, developing mechanisms to implement decisions or agreements, or improving the way laws work in practice).

·      Since lobbying is a form of social activity, and as it is a process, a strategy can be developed to lobby effectively, which is separated into stages. An approximate diagram of such stages is the following:



·      As a specific form of activity, lobbying has different characteristics at the level of developing and realising decisions. In order to act effectively in this case, we need to answer the following questions:

o      What do we want to achieve? (aims and activities of lobbying); for example, ratification of the 1951 Convention, passing a law on citizenship, helping refugees to be granted citizenship etc.

o      Who does the decision depend on? (choice of target group or individual target of lobbying). Very often such a decision does not depend on the president of the country, the government (that is, on first persons); very often the issue at stake (the draft law, regulation, or government directive) depends on the work of working groups, ministries or government bodies, commissions of deputies, other institutions on a national or regional level or depends on a vote within the legislature. Therefore, it is important to be clear about who is responsible for this legislative initiative or who wishes to introduce concrete changes into existing draft legislation or mechanisms.

o      Who can influence those who are taking the decisions? (choice of lobbyist/lobbying tool and allies in lobbying)

o      How can the lobbying itself best be done?






















Such a lobbying structure was developed on the basis of discussion of an example of lobbying by a coalition of non-governmental organisations, carried out at the UN Preparatory Commission debates on ratification of the Rome Treaty (to create an International Criminal Court).


·      In developing methods and activities of lobbying we must take into account that lobbying tasks must be: concrete, measurable, achievable, realistic, and suited to the time and resources available. Therefore, the group has identified factors influencing possible methods of lobbying:

o      The stage the decision-making process is at

o      The decision which those involved in the process are most likely to take

o      The general situation at the present time

o      What personal contacts are available

o      The image of the lobbying organisation in society

o      International influence

o      What support already exists in the decision-making bodies

o      What contact exists with the media

o      The existence of coalitions of networks of NGOs which could act as allies in the lobbying process

o      The professionalism of the lobbyists themselves



The group also discussed the different forms of lobbying, namely:

·      Organising the signing of petitions, appeals, letter-writing

·      Organising advertising campaigns (posters, interviews with leaders of organisations etc.)

·      Formal and informal meetings with deputies or officials responsible for taking decisions

·      Organising training courses or conferences with the participation of decision-makers

·      Using public relations

·      Organising public appeals

·      Using VIPs


o       The group also discussed the question of implementation and came to the conclusion that this problem arises at the level of monitoring the results of decisions which have been taken after lobbying. Problems of implementation can include: incompatibility of new legislation or regulations; legislative gaps; conflicts between federal and local legislation; and the absence of mechanisms for realisation. In evaluating these problems, it is the group’s point of view that we should use the lobbying diagram outlined above, but with a change of aims.


Annex 3: Recommendations by working group on using written materials


The group which worked on „written materials” for lobbying campaigns looked first of all the definition and categories of „written materials”.


The group agreed that „written materials” are an important tool for lobbying and advocacy campaigns. Written materials were clasified according to aim (internal and external), but also by the target group and by the target of the campaign (for example leaflets, statements, cards, booklets, posters, reports, surveys etc).


All members of the group agreed that internal materials are more detailed and constitute a base for elaborating the external ones, that are more specific and focused on a certain issue.


Concerning the  preparation and use of written materials for lobbying and advocacy campaigns, the group made the following recommendations:


Whenever planning to write materials for a lobbying/advocacy campaign:

·      reasearch the context

·      find the aim

·      define the target group

·      ellaborate the budget

·      allocate resources (use persons experienced in the field that concerns the campaign)

·      find donors and supporters

·      match the content of respective written material to its target/aim

·      write every step that was made and evaluate periodically the outcome and think of alterations you might have to make

·      choose the right time for distribution/organize the distribution and delegate/divide responsibilities carefully

·      use the language that makes peple to react or at least to think

·      plan follow up

·      don’t exagerate/fake information

·      do not necesarily hire an advertising company for writing materials for lobbying

·      do not give more information than needeed

·      do not be too agressive in the content/form of materials

·      do not use language that is too specific

·      do not give up if the initial aim was not met


Annex 4: Recommendations from working group on face-to-face meetings


The group on ‘face-to-face meetings’ developed the following recommendations:


·           On preparing for the meeting it is important to set out, exactly what result you would like to achieve, that is to set out a concrete aim

·           Then you should clarify, who is responsible for taking the decision you are concerned about, and try to get a meeting with him/her

·           Spend some time before the meeting studying the given problem and preparing substantial arguments

·           It is useful to search out allies and form a team with them to co-ordinate your approach

·           It is useful if, before the meeting, you can briefly acquaint the relevant official with the topic under discussion, by sending a fax or letter

·           During the meeting you should make sure you give the correct impression. The official should be thinking about the content of your discussion, rather than the clothes you are wearing

·           It is essential to show respect for others at the meeting and not lose your sense of self-worth. Do not forget to introduce yourself, if possible right at the start of the meeting, and leave your contact details

·           Explain the essence of the problem precisely, present the facts in a logical progression, illustrated with concrete examples. Try to be brief but do not leave out vital details. Do not hurry the way you speak, try to use as little jargon or specialist terminology as possible, because the official may simply not understand you

·           Do not be afraid to offer personal benefits which the official can gain from taking the decision you want (for example, improving of his or her public image, support at elections etc.), but do not apply pressure

·           Be able to listen but try to take the discussion in the direction you want, as you were the initiator of the meeting

·           Try to relate to your interlocutor, but at the same time be yourself and speak honestly and plainly

·           When the meeting comes to a close, do not forget to leave materials behind to acquaint the official with the issues further

·           If the decision has still not been taken, then find out the date and time of the next meeting

·           Thank the official for his/her time and attention, and express your hope that the decision you are looking for will be taken, which will lead to productive co-operation. Invite the official to an event which is being run by your organisation, so that he or she has the opportunity to see first-hand the results of your work.

·           If the decision you want is taken immediately, then write a letter of thanks and send the official additional materials.




Annex 5: Recommendations from working group on working with the media



To create a positive image of refugees in the eyes of the local population and convince the authorities that integrating refugees is advantageous for them because:

·      Refugees are a source of new energy in society

·      Refugees are a stimulus for the development of the country




·      To search for allies amongst journalists and organisations which have contact with journalists

·      To befriend journalists and editors who may have been refugees themselves (comrades in unhappy situations)

·      To offer the media sensational subjects from the lives of migrants

·      To create means of moral and material stimulation for journalists writing on migration issues

·      To offer expert assistance to the media



Methods of working with the media:

·      Press releases

·      Press conferences

·      Inviting interested journalists to important events hosted by NGOs and refugee community groups

·      Analysis of publications on migration-related topics from the point of view of their benefit for refugees, summaries of which can be sent to the media, government departments and partner NGOs

·      Immediate responses to presentations by media bodies of use to refugees (such as letters of thanks, telephone calls to the editor or to the journalists themselves)

·      Countering subjective information presented in the press about refugees

·      Trying to use mistakes made by the press to the advantage of refugees, for example:

o      By countering false information, it is possible at the same time to draw attention to the problems of refugees

o      In criticising subjective articles in the press, it is possible to refer to publications which are supportive of refugees

o      It is possible to play on the moral sensitivities of journalists who wrote inaccurate articles on refugees, and encourage them to write new pieces offering more objective information

o      NGOs themselves can present ready-made material for publication to the media about the work of their own organisation or the plight of refugees, and display their own journalistic skills!



What to avoid:

§            Do not present the media with ‘hot-headed’ information which has not been verified as being accurate

§            In press releases or at press conferences, do not speak about the problems of refugees in general terms (the press will only focus in on clear concrete facts and accurate statistics)

§            Try to influence the press, but do not try to ‘pressurise’ them

§            Do not be drawn into conflict with the media for insignificant reasons

§            Do not isolate the interests of refugees from the interests of the local population

§            Do not exploit feelings of compassion of the reader by representing refugees only as victims

§            Do not lose heart if the media takes no notice of your suggestions



What is essential:

·           Patiently and creatively to search for new approaches to existing problems of refugees

·           Study the changing psychology of the reader

·           Relate the tragedies of refugees to other tragedies in the country or in the world

·           Believe truly in the importance of your mission (namely, protecting the dispossessed) and, through concrete actions, encourage those who are not interested in hearing about refugees to take interest by putting yourself in their place and understanding their needs and feelings.

·           Remember that “In the Beginning was the Word”

Annex 6: Summary of evaluation forms


1. How successful was the seminar in your opinion?

·      Very successful (14)

·      Quite successful (3)



2. What did you hope to gain from this seminar?

·      Concrete recommendations on lobbying methods from western NGOs

·      Practical knowledge of working with journalists and preparing materials

·      Concrete examples of lobbying

·      A systematic approach to the problem

·      How to gain more information on lobbying, and to meet professional, interesting colleagues

·      Systematise my knowledge, learn of the experience of other NGOs, learn of practical examples of lobbying

·      Systematise my views on lobbying, campaigning, writing materials

·      Practical and theoretical information, inspiration and motivation, and new contacts

·      Deeper knowledge on lobbying in asylum matters

·      To study examples of civilised and effective lobbying

·      Exchange of experience in advocacy process, knowledge of the concepts and techniques of lobbying

·      Theoretical knowledge, new contacts and exchange of experience

·      Communication with other participants, information on methodology in an intensive environment

·      New knowledge and an opportunity to speak of my own experience

·      More concrete theoretical knowledge and work in groups

·      Practical ideas on media work and lobbying, and information on concrete activities of other organisations

·      Information on preparing materials for campaigns and lobbying activities



3. To what extent were your expectations fulfilled?

·      Fully (14)

·      Satisfactorily (3)



4. Which part of the seminar did you find most useful?

·      Work in groups (8)

·      Work with the mass media (7)

·      Tactics of lobbying (6)

·      Presentations by BRC (4)

·      Meeting the mayor (2)

·      Development of written material

·      Reports of group work

·      Practical work of what we know in theory

·      All topics



5. Which topics need further discussion in your opinion?

·      Working with the media (4)

·      Methods of lobbying at different levels of administration (2)

·      NGO networking (2)

·      Using concrete examples of lobbying in working with refugees

·      All of them after producing the final texts

·      Practice in face-to-face meetings

·      Practical solutions in neighbouring countries

·      Regulating lobbying on a legislative level

·      Looking at all topics individually in more detail

·      Work with refugee community groups

·      Interviews for TV channels, lobbying at the national level and working in coalitions

·      Planning a campaign



6. How can ECRE improve its support to NGOs in the future?

·      Continue with such seminars (8)

·      Follow-up to seminars and trainings (3)

·      Publication of guidelines to specific issues (3)

·      Seminars for new organisations on subjects such as lobbying, working with the media, co-operation with the authorities, capacity-building of NGOs, and forming coalitions

·      Help with locating funders

·      More regular meetings with people attending the seminars

·      Advanced courses on the same issues

·      ECRE should take on a co-ordinating role in the CIS

·      Internships in ECRE



7. Any further comments?

·      Estonia would be a good place to organise seminars such as these

·      It would be good to have a long-term programme for ECRE seminars