International Advocacy: Where, How, When and Why?

Dianova helped in designing a practical handbook on advocacy for non-governmental organizations

Advocacy handbook

RIOD is a non-profit organization that brings together the main Latin American NGOs working in the field of drugs and addictions, in the areas of prevention, treatment, integration, research and advocacy – Image: handbook cover, RIOD, all rights reserved

By the editorial team – On December 2, the Ibero-American Network of Non-Governmental Organisations working on Drugs and Dependences (RIOD) presented the guidebook “Advocacy at the international level: where, how, when and why”. This practical document (at the moment only available in Spanish) aims to improve NGO participation in international decision-making spaces related to drug policy, health, human rights and sustainable development. The handbook was also launched on a web platform with visual and practical information. In parallel, a campaign to raise awareness of the development aspects related to the phenomenon of drugs and addiction will be implemented.

The RIOD initiative was brought about with special funding from the Spanish Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda in order to improve the participation of third sector organizations active in the field of drugs in international forums.  Dianova participated in the development of the handbook and its representative Lucía Goberna, accompanied by Manu Sainz, RIOD project technician, presented the document at an event in Madrid. See the video of the presentation.

Rationale for the handbook

The field of drug policies requires a global vision necessary to understand the phenomenon’s complexity and scope by addressing its multifarious general and cross-cutting aspects that impact a wide array of actors. According to the RIOD Partnership Commission, drug policies affect 11 of the 17 development goals.


The sustainable development goals – image: United Nations

It is within this framework that civil society organizations operate. These organizations have invaluable knowledge and experience, as they have first-hand knowledge of the realities and needs of people and communities, and how the implementation of policies – or lack thereof – can affect them. It is this kind of information that is essential to the policy-making process, in order to have more humane and effective instruments. It is therefore essential that organizations are encouraged to engage in advocacy activities.

RIOD recognizes that engaging in advocacy at the international level is a complex task, and even more so for grassroots organizations. That is why the organization has designed this handbook as a tool to support the work of civil society organizations in this area.

The handbook

The handbook provides an overview of some of the main international organizations and forums that address drug policy, health, human rights and other relevant issues at the international level, in Europe and Latin America. It describes what they are, what they do, how they operate and how you can influence them. The document has been designed in a practical and straightforward manner and is easy to read and understand.

The document does not aim to be exhaustive: there are so many areas associated with the drug phenomenon that describing them all would be an impossible task. Not only are not all agencies mentioned, but procedures and participation mechanisms may also change. For this reason, the handbook is intended to be a living document that will need to be updated as changes occur and as contributions and suggestions are received. A dedicated form is available on the RIOD website to collect your suggestions and comments.

Dianova would like to congratulate RIOD for this initiative, which we consider both interesting and particularly useful for civil society organizations working in this field, so that they can become more involved in international advocacy actions. Many thanks to RIOD for trusting Dianova with its development.

Together, farther!