© Helvetas, Simon B. Opladen

Advocacy in the South

Projects can only have long-term effects within the right political framework. This is why Helvetas engages in constructive dialog with governments, the private sector and civil society.
© Helvetas, Simon B. Opladen

Local development processes depend in large part on political, economic and social parameters. So, in addition to our efforts to influence Swiss and international development policy, Helvetas also engages in political dialog in developing countries. Long-term progress in efforts to improve the water supply to the poorest populations in a given country, for example, is only possible if the government legally recognizes the human right to water and enshrines measures to this end in its national water policy. Achieving goals like this requires open dialog between the government, civil society and the private sector – but the prerequisites for such dialog are lacking in many partner countries.

Support for selected actors

For this reason, Helvetas promotes exchange between decision-makers and those directly concerned with a view to coming up with viable solutions. We generally select and support suitable actors to engage in this exchange, such as regional farmers’ associations contesting illegal land grabs or local water management committees advocating for national legislation to safeguard water rights. In addition, we endeavor to create and maintain platforms for open and transparent dialog. Wherever necessary and sensible, we ourselves engage in direct exchange with decision-makers and advocate policies designed to meet the needs of the poorest social strata.

Advocating through international human rights mechanisms

Where basic human rights get violated – including the right to water and sanitation, education, or sufficient food – advocacy sometimes needs to go one step up, beyond the national level.
The United Nations Human as well as European institutions offer a range of well-established mechanisms through which national decision makers can be held to account. Based on significant experience with such mechanisms in countries like Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka, Albania, or Bangladesh, Helvetas has developed each one Guidance Paper on the United Nations Human Rights System as well as on European Human Rights Mechanisms explaining those systems’ most relevant building blocks and how they can effectively be used for advocacy.

Switzerland’s International Policies

Real change requires open dialog between policymakers and society. So Helvetas promotes exchange between decision-makers and those affected by their decisions.

Swiss Development Policy

Switzerland’s international policies must be aimed at achieving global justice, equal opportunity, and decent living and working conditions.