Participate in a Network or Coalition

In extension to the benefits and drawbacks of networks and coalitions in the overview page, this section highlights the strategic benefits of participating in a global coalition to further your advocacy goals, and provides a case study on the key to successes. It also provides a list of relevant networks and coalitions relating to refugee rights.

Why participate in a global coalition or network?

Participating in global coalitions can be a helpful strategy for small organizations to gather adequate traction to communicate with and influence international bodies. Global coalitions have historically been successful in communicating with international bodies within the United Nations. It can be an effective way to network and legitimize even very small organizations in the eyes of policymakers.

In addition, global coalitions can support local organizations when dealing with politically charged advocacy goals. For example, if an organization is concerned about a particularly challenging national issue, a regional network may better situated to advocate for change to an international body rather than a single organization directly advocating to a government for change. In this way, global coalitions offer local organizations a certain degree of protection.

Case study: successes of the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network

In 2012, the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network (SRLAN) met every other week for six months in order to prepare an advocacy strategy to improve UNHCR’s RSD Procedural Standards. The suggestions for improvement were included in the most recent iteration. This success can be attributed to several things:

  1. The coalition had a clear strategy for change: they were going to draft adjustments to the Procedural Standards in detail and advocate for those changes during UNHCR’s Annual NGO Consultations.
  2. All coalition members felt strongly that their goal was important, and therefore there was a high degree of participation.
  3. UNHCR was soliciting input from NGOs, giving coalition members the general feeling that their efforts were not going to be wasted.

However, global coalitions may move slow and cannot always quickly respond to national level concerns. To this end, consider the timeline of your advocacy goal. If you have a tight time frame, global coalitions may not be the best strategy.

Aligning your advocacy goals to the level of participation in networks or coalitions

Evidently, participating in a network or coalition can bring many benefits. As a starting point, however, it is critical that your advocacy goals align with the mission of the network or coalition. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your policy plan and bottom line before deciding whether to participate in an existing refugee rights coalition.

When deciding how ‘active’ of a member you want to be in a network, consider whether your goals are closely aligned with the goals of the network or coalition. If they are closely aligned, allocating a greater amount of time to coalition activities may lead to faster policy change. However, because facilitating networks and coalitions can be time consuming, it is important that your efforts to mobilize others and build consensus is done to further your policy goal, rather than simply for relationship-building purposes.

Refugee rights networks and coalitions

Within the refugee rights movement, there are a few predominant networks and coalitions.  Most networks are receptive to new membership and will welcome the growth of the movement.

The Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network (SRLAN)
SRLAN is a network of refugee legal aid providers who advocate for reform of UNHCR refugee procedural standards and who take on other special projects related to raising the profile of the refugee legal aid movement including improving adherence to the Nairobi Code.

The Asian Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APPRN)
APPRN is a network of over 160 organizations that advocate for the rights of refugees in the Asia Pacific region.

The International Detention Coalition (IDC)
The IDC researches, advocates, and provides direct services to refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in an effort to respect and promote their human rights.

Refugee Council USA is a coalition of organizations dedicated to welcoming and protecting refugees in the United States.

Refugee Concern Network
The Refugee Concern Network is a national coalition out of Hong Kong dedicated to making refugee rights a reality.

The Refugee Work Rights Coalition (WRC)
The Refugee Work Rights Coalition is chaired by Asylum Access and aims to ensure that refugees’ rights to access safe and lawful employment in the formal sector is respected, protected and fulfilled. Any person or organization that agrees to uphold the Refugee Work Rights Coalition’s mission can be a member.