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 or 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, NGOs or community-based organizations, national governments, local and international media, parties to conflict, companies, donors, regional bodies, communities affected by emergencies, or the general public. The aim is that they step up 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 - and public speeches, press briefings, Web stories or 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, we always promote the principles of humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality, and respect for international law.  

Tools and mechanisms

Working with a broad array of partners, OCHA helps to identify the issues that need to be highlighted. These might range from a new crisis, such as a devastating cyclone, to chronic situations, such as unresolved conflict, or the humanitarian effects of emerging problems such as climate change or food insecurity. As well as providing analysis and policies to help shape the thinking around complex issues, OCHA produces reports and develops messaging that enables humanitarian leaders to make informed decisions and speak out effectively and coherently.

OCHA has developed and uses all kinds of products, platforms and channels to communicate effectively with our various audiences. These include standard tools such as press releases, publications, maps and media interviews, a range of 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.