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Human Rights Advocacy

Intensive two-day course
Dates: 16 - 17 November 2017

This course provides the latest analysis of the theory and practice of advocacy, both advocacy branded as “human rights” and advocacy undertaken within the social justice and humanitarian field.  Participants will explore key examples of successful human rights advocacy and techniques that have been effective, while also reviewing critiques of the legitimacy or inadequacy of the human rights approach. 

The course scrutinises different approaches to advocacy and the challenges of getting organisations to examine embedded practices, think in different ways, and become more effective in their work.  The class will consider how to select effective advocacy tools and targets, the usefulness (or otherwise) of framing a problem as a human rights issue and the identification of key objectives for change.  The tricky business of measuring success will be a key area of discussion and instructors will present an array of approaches to evaluating human rights advocacy.  The course will consider systematic planning and evaluation as tools of learning, accountability and legitimacy – and not only as necessities for management or fundraising.  The aim of the course is to give participants from a range of different backgrounds access to a set of tools that can enable them to engage more creatively and effectively with the problems they wish to solve.

Course components

The course will consist of a mixture of presentations from the instructors, discussions among participants, and presentations from participants themselves on advocacy issues with which they are engaged.  There are six sessions, each considering a question:

  • How does change happen: what are the theories and models that explain shifts in public policy?
  • What is the added value that a human rights approach brings to advocacy?
  • When may a human rights approach be insufficient or unhelpful?
  • What are the tools available and how to think creatively on using them?
  • How to manage questions of legitimacy and authenticity?
  • How can success or failure in human rights advocacy be evaluated? 

Who should take this course and why?

This course is suitable for senior-level personnel from different sectors who are seeking to bring about change in policy and practice at national or international levels, and who want to explore new ways to achieve change and the relevance of human rights approaches to that task. 

Participants may or may not see themselves as “advocates”, or as human rights advocates, but would be united by a common motivation to explore new and alternative approaches to bringing about change. The course will deepen understanding of the usefulness of human rights analysis and tools in different contexts, including those where human rights is not usually the frame of reference.  We would thus expect participants to have an existing basic understanding of the international human rights legal framework:
the course will not focus on means to access the UN or regional human rights
mechanisms, nor on the content of particular treaties.  Participants will emerge from this course aware of how human rights approaches may be useful, and identify the situations where it might be more effective to be implicit in framing advocacy as “human rights”. 

Each participant will be requested to share in advance an advocacy objective they would like to discuss (ideally a problem with which they are personally engaged), and during the two days will return to this problem to apply the lessons learned and develop a strategy to address it.  These problems could range from the very local to the most global objectives, across any theme where human rights analysis may be applicable.  It is expected that participants will have relevant professional experience, enabling informed discussion and learning with each other as well as with the convenors and teachers of this course. 

There will be ample opportunity for exchange of experiences and group learning.  Each participant will be requested to share in advance an advocacy objective they would like to discuss (ideally a problem with which they are personally engaged), and during the two days will return to this problem to apply the lessons learned and develop a strategy to address it.  These problems could range from the very local to the most global objectives, across any theme where human rights analysis may be applicable.  It is expected that participants will have relevant professional experience, enabling informed discussion and learning with each other as well as with the convenors and teachers of this course. 

Each session will be delivered by an expert who bridges the divide between academia and activism, bringing both theoretical analysis and practical experience to the course.  Participants will discuss and examine the speaker’s own experience and relevant case studies, applying lessons learned to their own challenges. 

Participants will be provided with advance readings, which will be discussed during the course; as well as an extended bibliography, including in-depth analysis of particular case studies and references to the latest academic thinking and critiques of human rights advocacy.

Convenors

The course is convened, and each session chaired, by Bronwen Manby and Veena Siddarth.

Bronwen Manby is Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE Centre for the Study of Human Rights and an independent consultant in the field of human rights, democracy and good governance, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.  Bronwen previously worked a decade each for the  Open Society Foundations and the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, including experience of leading advocacy in various national, regional and international
contexts.  She has written on a wide range of human rights issues in Africa, reflecting this experience, with particular interests in South Africa and Nigeria (especially the oil industry in the Niger Delta), and in continental developments in human rights law. Recently, her advocacy, research and writing have focused on statelessness, comparative nationality law, and legal identity, and she has worked closely with UNHCR on its global campaign
against statelessness. Bronwen has degrees from Oxford and Columbia Universities, is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales, and in 2015 was awarded a doctorate by Maastricht University faculty of law.

Veena Siddharth has experience as an advocate, applied specialist and leader in the fields of human rights, reproductive health, governance and aid effectiveness.  She has extensive experience in Africa, Asia and Latin America and currently resides in London. Her advocacy experience includes co-founding Oxfam International’s Washington Advocacy Office and serving as Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division.  She has also worked for the World Bank’s Operations Policy Vice Presidency and headed Global Programs in reproductive health at Planned Parenthood.  Veena has degrees from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Bryn Mawr College.

Teachers

This course is taught by a team of leading advocacy specialists.  In 2017 these include:

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Apply the latest academic thinking to the identification of opportunities to bring change
  • Identify a broad range of tools for human rights advocacy and select which are most effective to deploy for your particular advocacy issue
  • Justify criteria for selection of an advocacy issue and how it is framed
  • Discuss what is unique about human rights approaches to advocacy and when they are and are not useful
  • Understand the trade-offs of representation, credibility and accountability in advocacy
  • Outline how a human rights advocacy strategy could be evaluated in the short, medium and long-term
  • Critique your own organisation's existing advocacy strategies and propose ways to strengthen them apply the knowledge gained and be capable of designing fresh strategies
  • Apply academic theories relevant to human rights advocacy 

Fees and administration

The standard course fees are:

  1. Business / Corporate rate: £2,200 Register here

  2. NGO / Charity / Individual rate: £1,200 Register here

  3. LSE Student/Alumni/Staff discount 10%: £1,080 Register here

  4. Subsidised rate: The Centre is able to offer up to five subsidised places at £700 in support of those who would otherwise be unable to take the course. Discounts can be negotiated for organisations wanting to send several individuals.

Subsidised places for those who would otherwise be unable to attend: Applications for subsidised places will be competitively assessed together after the deadline of Noon,  1 September 2017, and places will be awarded on the basis of merit and financial need. Subsidised place application form (MS word doc) 

Priority will be given to those working in non-governmental or voluntary sector organisations who are able to demonstrate a clear benefit to that organisation beyond their personal education and professional development.             

Please note that if your application for a subsidised place is not successful you will not be guaranteed a full-price place on the course as standard places are booked on a first-come first-served basis.          

Further queries

Please note that while we welcome participants from overseas, the Centre is regrettably not able to provide any additional assistance, financial or practical, in the securing of travel to, or accommodation in, London.            

Frequently asked questions about the course 

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