Advocacy - Overview

Advocacy in action

OCHA has a unique mandate to speak out on behalf of the people worst affected by humanitarian situations. As the organization tasked with coordinating international humanitarian response, our ultimate goal is to save more lives and reduce the impact of conflicts and natural disasters. Whether we’re mobilizing relief money after a massive earthquake, ensuring vulnerable communities are protected, or raising awareness of forgotten crises, it’s our job to keep world attention focused on humanitarian issues. 

To OCHA, advocacy means communicating the right messages to the right people at the right time. These people include humanitarian agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, national governments, local and international media, parties to conflict, companies, donors, regional bodies, communities affected by emergencies and the general public. The aim is that they increase urgent funding or support, change their policies or keep to their commitments. 

The most visible methods include media interviews with the Emergency Relief Coordinator (the United Nations humanitarian chief), public speeches, press briefings, Web stories and social media campaigns. Private advocacy – through quiet diplomacy with governments or negotiations with armed groups – is also a crucial element in bringing about change, securing access or building support. Regardless of the approach taken, OCHA always promotes the principles of humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality, and respect for international law.  

Tools and mechanisms

Working with a wide range of partners, OCHA helps to identify the issues that need to be highlighted. These can range from a new crisis, such as a devastating cyclone, to chronic situations, such as unresolved conflict, or the humanitarian effects of problems such as climate change or food insecurity. OCHA provides analysis and policies to help shape the thinking around complex issues. We also produce reports and develop messaging that enables humanitarian leaders to make informed decisions and speak out effectively and coherently.

To communicate effectively with various audiences, OCHA has developed and uses all types of products, platforms and channels. These include standard tools such as press releases, publications, maps and media interviews; different Web and social media platforms including our own humanitarian news network; multimedia products using video; photo and graphics; creative awareness-raising campaigns; and essential information channels for affected communities.