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deadly sins of human rights advocates
Cheadle and John Prendergast, Hyperion Press 2007
August 01, 2007
Extracted from: Not
on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond
Beware of the
Six Deadly Sins of would-be human rights advocates like us. We can
get pretty sanctimonious, long-winded, and overzealous. So here
are some things to avoid when you are trying to make your case,
whether to a politician or to a group of people you are trying to
be too boring! Advocacy is not like an academic conference.
We need to think through how to make our presentations stand out.
Tell a story, tell a joke, make what you have to say interesting.
Don't paint in black-and-white; paint in color!
be too long-winded! Most of us who get involved in advocacy
could hardly be accused of being shy. We often tend to drone on
just a little too long about the issues that fire us up. Zero
in on the main points and be concise!
be too unilateral! We often just make long presentations
or speeches at our meetings and events. We need to focus on interaction
with our interlocutors or audiences. After initial presentations,
engage people by asking questions. Be interactive!
be too complex! We often overload our message by telling
everything about our subject of interest in all its glorious complexity.
Pick the highlights. Make a few simple points!
Don't be too unstructured!
There's often so much to said about our topics that we have
the temptation to just blurt it all out in a stream of consciousness,
sort of like hurling mud (or any other similar substance) against
a wall and hoping it sticks. Instead, it is important to make
a tight situation report and then present a focused set of recommendations.
Make it flow!
be too touch-feely! We have to match our advocacy agenda
to the big picture. We can't just rely on the "because
it's the right thing to do" argument, or simply hope
that for humanitarian reasons people will respond. We also have
to connect our issues to larger national interests and what politicians
and Zimbabweans care about. Be relevant!
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