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Regional course on Advocacy and Policy Influencing for project monitoring partners

10 December 2014

From 17 until 19 November, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee organized a course on advocacy and policy influencing, which took place in Skopje, Macedonia, as part of the project “Improvement of Prison Conditions for Reintegration of Juvenile Detainees in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo“. This training aimed to improve advocacy and lobbying skills of monitoring partners in the project, so they can all successfully advocate in their countries for changes that will contribute to a better prison regime for juvenile inmates.

Participants from three countries took an active part in the training. There were representatives from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia, the Albanian Helsinki Committee and People’s Advocate (Albania), the Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims, the Ombudsperson Institution (Kosovo), the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms (Kosovo), and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. Most of them already have solid experience in advocacy and policy influencing, but they were all enthusiastic about learning new tools for refining their advocacy strategies.

During the three-day programme, participants became familiar and learned about theories, principles and concepts of policy influencing and advocacy. Theoretical background on advocacy cycle, problem and context analysis, stakeholders/beneficiaries, the decision making process, network management and negotiation skills were very well combined with practical exercises in smaller groups and role plays. Because of the interactive character of the training, all the participants had the chance to exchange ideas, present their own perspective and get feedback from their colleagues and the trainer. Participants also worked on their own advocacy plan, in which they had to incorporate a strategy to advocate for the improvement of juvenile detention, based on their experience from project monitoring visits. These plans were presented at the end of the course and can serve as a basis for future advocacy and lobbying activities, so that the project achievements in the field of juvenile prison regime will be sustainable.

Since the training brought monitoring actors from three different countries together, it also served as a platform for exchanging ideas and networking with regional colleagues active in monitoring detention facilities. The participants all expressed their interest in fostering these regional partnerhips and creating the opportunities for meeting on a regular basis.