Lobbying is often associated with quiet words behind closed doors, but this is just one technique. It is usually necessary to use many other campaigning methods to persuade a government to listen seriously to those quiet words and take the desired action.
Lobbying can include:
- Visits or meetings with officials in the capital city, at the embassy or in local/district offices
- Discussions with officials at inter-governmental meetings (eg. United Nations conferences, African Union summits, Commonwealth gatherings)
- Trips or excursions organised for officials
- Letters, petitions and other forms of contact with decision makers
SNAPSHOT: 5 REASONS WHY LOBBYING GOVERNMENTS IS IMPORTANT
- Governments have power: Politicians lead and follow public opinion.
- Governments can influence other governments.
- Governments compose and decide the actions of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs).
- Governments can strengthen international standards and mechanisms to protect human rights.
- Governments can change legislation and practice.
Decide Who to Lobby
The starting point for developing strategies is to research and analyse the situation you are in, the problems you are trying to overcome, the opportunities you may be able to take advantage of, and the resources you have available. Use these questions to pinpoint people to approach and opportunities to leverage. See Who to Lobby.
Determine How You Will Lobby
Informing and persuading those with power or influence to protect and promote human rights involves a number of techniques. You may decide you need to use membership action, the influence of third parties and media publicity, or you might simply have a chat with the foreign minister over a coffee. In the long-term, success also depends on the following important steps outlined in our How to Lobby Worksheet.
Choose Where to Lobby
Lobby at conferences. Diplomats at conferences like Commonwealth and United Nations summits usually expect to be lobbied on issues by domestic and international campaigners.
Work as a team. To begin with, meet with other campaigners from your country or region to establish your main lobbying points and decide on strategies to convince a diplomat to accept your position. Divide amongst the group diplomats and delegations to lobby.
When you first meet with diplomats and delegations, let them tell you what their positions are on various issues of concern. Then, in the discussion, if their position does not support your campaign, that is when you lobby. Campaigners should report the results of the meetings to the campaign group to ensure you are not duplicating efforts and can plan for further lobbying.
Monitor and Evaluate
When preparing strategies, include ways you can monitor your progress and evaluate the outcome of the strategy. This means making sure that your objectives are specific and measurable.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL LOBBYISTS
Establish yourself as a resource for policy makers by supplying them with information—newsletters, research papers, publications and the outcome of research. Express your willingness to help them find additional material or data.
Maintain your relationship with the policy maker by sending them information, thanking them when they voted appropriately on the issue you are concerned about and inviting them to events.
Encourage people to write personal letters to the policy maker and send copies of these letters to the press.
Organise a briefing for the policy makers at which an expert on the issue can talk about its importance.