16 May 2011

Weigh In: The Challenges of Advocacy

Bec Hamilton, author of the fantastic book on Darfur advocacy, Fighting for Darfur, is in the process of creating a discussion guide for those wanting to use her book in the classroom. To that end, she's asked several bloggers (including UN Dispatch's Mark Leon Goldberg, Laura Seay of Texas in Africa, and me) to host discussions on these questions. 

When given the opportunity to select a question, I went with the one which I struggle with the most.  In this blog I often discuss how the answers are not found at the extremes, rather somewhere in the middle.  This question from Bec asks if the middle is appropriate when considering advocacy efforts for situations like Darfur.  I would love to hear your opinions on the questions posed and I too will weigh in through the comments section of the post. Be sure to also check out the discussion as it happens on Bec's blog.
There are views along a spectrum about the appropriate role for citizens in the foreign policy process. On one view, citizens should focus solely on “noise-making” - akin to the ‘bumper-sticker’ model the Save Darfur movement was pursuing until 2006. Under another view, citizens should be pushing for specific policies generated by advocacy leaders – akin to the model the Enough Project follows. What are the risks at either end of the spectrum? What would be the challenges in pursuing a middle-ground?