Complementary Advocacy

This section explores some of the different advocacy strategies that can be used in combination with formal accountability mechanisms to increase your chances of success. These complementary strategies include building alliances, direct lobbying of key people and agencies, using the media, and advocating with consumers and shareholders.

Complementary Advocacy


As discussed in the previous section, the various judicial and non-judicial accountability mechanisms available for land and natural resource rights violations all have limitations. That’s why you shouldn’t rely on just one approach. Instead, try to use more than one mechanism, as well as a range of complementary advocacy strategies that target multiple actors along the investment chain that can influence the business managing the project.

Putting sustained pressure on particular targets to achieve a specific objective through a range of advocacy tools and tactics is called campaigning. Key campaigning tactics include:

  • Alliance building
  • Lobbying
  • Media advocacy
  • Consumer advocacy
  • Shareholder advocacy

These campaign tools range from “soft” to “hard,” and they are not always complementary. Soft tools like lobbying can be useful at key points in a campaign. For example, lobbying can help you get past a barrier that is preventing an accountability process from moving forward. Harder tools like media, shareholder and consumer advocacy can be used to impose a reputational and economic cost on companies that are not responsive to softer advocacy approaches and are unwilling to act in good faith to redress harm that they have caused. You need to consider when it is strategic to deploy a certain tools and target certain actors.

Building alliances

For an advocacy campaign to be effective, it is often necessary to work in alliance with other organizations that support your cause locally, nationally and internationally. Building international alliances is particularly important when the investment chain spans multiple countries and continents.

Important Point

No organization can do everything alone, so the more you can work together with other groups or individuals who have particular skills, resources and access to the actors you want to influence, the better the chances are that your campaign will be successful.

For example, if you want to pursue legal action against a multinational corporation in its home country, you will need to reach out to legal aid organizations in that country and ask for their assistance finding a lawyer that can provide pro bono, or free, legal advice and support. If you decide that it’s time to launch a consumer campaign in countries or regions where the company’s products are consumed, then you will need to build an alliance with campaigning organizations that are active in those countries. Closer to home, there may be other organizations or social movements that you can work with to develop an effective, multifaceted campaign. Some local groups may specialize in legal advocacy, while others are skilled in research or community organising.

Build a coalition with organizations and individuals that share common values and goals and that can each contribute something important to the campaign. And remember, successful corporate accountability campaigns often take several years, so make sure that you and your coalition partners are committed to staying active before taking on a case.