Certificate of Advanced Studies – Communication, Advocacy and Negotiation in Humanitarian Settings

The diploma in Communication and Advocacy for Humanitarian Action (CAS) enables participants to acquire theoretical and analytical competencies essential to develop communication, advocacy and negotiation strategies in the context of humanitarian action. At the end of the course, participants will have strengthened communication competencies and will be able to develop a proper advocacy or negotiation strategy in line with their humanitarian objectives and their environment.

I. Objectives

The course is focused on operational communication. As such, its primary focus is to enable participants to better communicate, advocate and negotiate in order to achieve programme objectives in the context of humanitarian action. The course will allow students to map the communication environment, understand how media interacts with humanitarian crises and develop and adapt key messages to specific constituencies. A special emphasis is given to new media technologies and how they can be harnessed to improve dialogue with affected populations and enhance the overall effectiveness of humanitarian action.

If you are a humanitarian professional or work in the domain of solidarity, this course will enable you to extend your communications and/or advocacy skills.

If you are working in communications, information and/or advocacy outside of the humanitarian sector, the course will enable you to familiarize with the specificities of communications and advocacy in the humanitarian field in preparation for a possible career change.

Learning outcomes in terms of knowledge - Understanding of

  • the power relations between communication stakeholders in local and global contexts
  • the stakes related to communication in humanitarian aid
  • cross-cultural and ethical aspects of communication, information and journalism
  • the use and impact of (new) tools and technologies of communication and information in humanitarian settings

Learning outcomes in terms of skills - Capacity to

  • strategically develop and nurture the dialogue with the main stakeholders, including affected populations
  • determine communication modes according to the key stakeholders to reach a determined goal
  • use specialized problem-solving skills competencies to build up, follow up and evaluate a proper communication/advocacy strategy in humanitarian action

Learning outcomes in terms of analytical competencies - Ability to

  • master collaboration modes between media and the humanitarian world for the benefit of the assisted populations
  • master various communication techniques according to various stakeholders (public opinion, beneficiaries, media, political or traditional leaders)
  • critically review communication strategies and objectives of various stakeholders
  • choose the appropriate activities and tools to advocate for a humanitarian goal


II. Structure

7 intensive weeks (around 300 hours) of individual work including pre-readings, face to face sessions (lectures, role plays, working groups, field work, media training) and personal work (readings, research, writing)

Weeks 1 – 6: lectures, workshops, role-plays etc.
Week 7: personal thematic paper


III. Programme

Week 1: Humanitarian Communication: Concepts and Framework

  • Key concepts related to communication
  • Humanitarian Brand: Identity and image of aid organizations
  • Internal communication processes in aid organizations
  • Operational Communication: objectives, frame and project cycle
  • Communication set-up in a humanitarian organization

Week 2: Dialogue with Communities

  • Review and clarification of the main concepts related to the communication with affected populations
  • Information needs of the affected populations
  • Strategies to start and nurture dialogue with affected communities during aid project
  • Developing an acceptance strategy though communication
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the quality of relationships

Week 3: Designing an Advocacy strategy

  • Concept clarification. Limits and constraints of advocacy 
  • Advocacy: Step by Step approach
  • Meeting with professionals in advocacy
  • Development of an advocacy strategy adapted to the context and the issue at stake

Week 4: Media and Humanitarian Action: Approaches & Challenges

  • Media landscape and its evolution
  • Journalists-aid actors interactions: Lessons learned
  • The use of digital media: Challenges and opportunities
  • Preparing and facing a TV/Radio interview
  • Making humanitarian news
  • Management of a crisis communication

Week 5: Representation to create Relationship: Strategy and ethical concerns

  • The role of photography in Humanitarian Action
  • Analysing messages: Power of words and images
  • The concepts of image and identity
  • Applied theory of social influence
  • Humanitarian ethics and the use of photography

Week 6: Negotiation in Humanitarian Settings: Main concepts and Strategy

  • Humanitarian negotiation: analyzing the context
  • Designing an adapted negotiation strategy
  • Role play on negotiation
  • Carrying out a face-to-face in a negotiation process
  • Negotiation with non-state armed groups

Week 7: Personal thematic paper

  • Paper to be written by the participants


IV Credits

10 ECTS credits.
Credits obtained are valid for a period of 5 years during which they can be used to complete the MAS.