Brussels, 8-9 September 2016

A key element of diplomacy is performative, i.e. looking and acting the part and developing a lobby narrative. This interactive workshop focused on how to perform in the diplomacy 'game' (comportment, mores, modes of address) and effectively narrate a community's history, politics and immediate concerns to diplomats who may be disinterested and/or uninformed.

From over one hundred and fifty applicants, 27 participants representing the Acheh, Al-Ahwaz, Assyria, Balochistan, Cabinda, Chin, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Gilgit Baltistan, Haratin, Iraqi Turkmen, Khmer Krom, Kurds in Iran, Kurdish-Kurmanj, Lezghin, Montagnards, Ogoni, Oromo, Sindh and Uyghur communities, as well as Somaliland and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, were selected to participate in the workshop, which took place at the offices of the Centre Maurits Coppieters (CMC), in Brussels.

After an introductory session on the functioning of the European institutions and the opportunities they offer for human rights advocacy, facilitated by experienced EU lobbyist Johan Häggman (researcher at the Université Catholique de Louvain), the participants had a guided tour of the European Parliament. During the visit, the participants had an engaging discussion with Csaba Sógor MEP (EPP, Romania) on how to approach MEPs in order to influence the Parliament’s human rights agenda. To conclude the first day, former Dutch diplomat Marc Bentinck shared his insights into the European Union advocacy environment, with a particular focus on the current “crisis” of the EU and how this shifts EU policy-makers’ attention away from international affairs.

On the second day, communication specialist Pemma Fox led an interactive workshop to help participants improve their communication skills and become more aware of the way they deliver their message. UNPO’s Johanna Green and Tommaso Nodari then ran a session on applying these skills in making presentations to the UN Forum on Minority Issues. The last session, chaired by Fiona McConnell from the University of Oxford, involved a lively discussion with experienced lobbyists Vincent Metter, EU Policy Director at the International Campaign for Tibet, and Sidi Omar, Diplomat of the Frente POLISARIO of the Sahrawi Republic. During this discussion, Mr Omar and Mr Metten shared their experiences in raising issues at both the UN and the EU.