This guide, issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), focuses on how civil society can follow up on recommendations of United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms and mandates or bodies.

The Advocacy Toolkit is applicable for all levels of the organization as a resource for building a structured approach for sustained advocacy. The tools are particularly relevant for UNICEF country offices and national committees, but its content will also be valuable to anyone who wants to expand their understanding of the human rights-based approach to advocacy and how this approach is applied. 

This toolkit has been produced by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) in collaboration with ActionAid International (AAI) and Education International (EI), and with funding from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). It aims to support civil society organisations and education activists across low- and middle-income countries to advocate and campaign on issues related to financing for education, as a strategic focus area of the GCE movement. It is also a result of increasing interest in advocacy around domestic financing for education as identified through GCE’s Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) programme (GCE website).

GCE, AAI and EI are launching this toolkit as the world embarks on the difficult task of putting into action the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), and the accompanying Education 2030 Framework for Action (FFA). The SDG 4 and the FFA contain collective commitments to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030. In recognition that enacting this expanded agenda will require more funds for education, the FFA sets out financing benchmarks that commit governments to spending at least 4-6% of GDP and 15-20% of total budgets on education, and it highlights domestic resourcing as the most important way of funding education. In addition, in order to address issues of quality and equity in education, the FFA recognises there is a need for greater efficiency, better targeted spending and increased accountability (UNESCO, 2015a).

Civil society can – and should – play a critical role in this, which requires the building of a powerful evidence base on which to conduct advocacy and put pressure on governments to deliver sufficient funding for education, primarily domestic, complemented by external support where necessary. It is hoped that this toolkit will help to build knowledge and capacity so that education advocates and activists across the developing world can more effectively hold their governments accountable.

This guide, organised around a set of questions and answers to 'unpack' SDG4, provides overall guidance for a deeper understanding of SDG4 within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in order to support its effective implementation. The guide outlines the key features of SDG4-Education 2030 and the global commitments expressed in the SDG4 targets as articulated in the Incheon Declaration and the Education 2030 Framework for Action. The guide also examines the implications of translating these global commitments within, and through, national education development efforts.

The Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) has launched a discussion paper with eight key proposals regarding the follow-up on views issued by United Nations human rights treaty bodies (UNTBs). ESCR-Net’s SLWG recognises the significance of decisions issued by UNTBs under the complaints procedures (Views) in the advancement of human rights enjoyment by people around the world, and welcomes the past action and willingness of the UNTBs to continue developing constructive practices regarding the impact and implementation of such Views.

Three principles underpin the SLWG’s proposals: the principle of non-repetition (consistently applied by the HRC in its views and by the CESCR in its General Comments); the principle of reasonableness (developed by the CESCR through its General Comments and 2007 Statement on Maximum Availability of Resources, and made explicit in the OP-ICESCR); and the principle of participation (recognised under a number of UN human rights treaties). Taking into account the practice of different international and regional human rights bodies, the SLWG proposes that the three principles should be applied during the consideration of a case, follow up and implementation, in order to maximise the effectiveness of human rights remedies.

Key resource

This comprehensive handbook focuses on education-related violations in suitations of insecurity and armed conflict. It explores the international legal protection afforded to both the right to education as a human right, and education more generally under international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. 

While many authorities can tolerate some traditional campaigning methods, it is usually harder to ignore the law. As part of broader campaigns, the law can be a powerful tool for achieving the changes that children need. Legal advocacy is now being used systematically in a few countries – leading to strong outcomes for children – and it has great potential for wider use.

There are many occasions for legal advocacy. International law sets out the principles and standards that states are obliged to meet but frequently do not, and so their domestic law violates children’s rights. Often, a state meets a standard in domestic legislation but its policy fails to implement the law. Sometimes, it is unclear what a law means in practice, or the meaning is clear but no one knows whether it is being implemented. These various gaps between international legal standards, domestic law and state policy (or corporate policy) present potential opportunities for legal advocacy.

There are also many avenues for legal advocacy. It is a broad term, not limited to taking rights violators to court. Many small-scale legal activities can enhance traditional campaigning, such as reporting on the implementation of a law, or raising awareness of what the law says. Sometimes, simply documenting and publicising the gaps between law and practice is enough to persuade decision-makers to act. But only sometimes. Towards the other end of the spectrum is work that demands more time and resources, including taking a government or corporation to court in order to bring broader social change. A successful case might improve the legal standards that apply to children, or lead to a major policy change of long-term benefit to children.

This introductory guide offers a brief overview of avenues for legal advocacy. It also offers guidance on how to explore your options, and how to promote legal advocacy work with other children’s rights advocates.

The Oxford Human Rights Hub in partnership with the Open Society Foundations has created a free online resource Learning lessons from litigators: Realising the right to education through public interest lawyering for anyone engaged in campaigning, advocating or litigating for the right to education, especially in the context of privatisation of education, on the potential and risks of litigation and how it can complement other forms of activism.

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RTE's style guide includes advice on the following areas: 

  1. General principles
  2. Online content
  3. Social media
  4. Formatting rules
  5. Referencing
  6. Others
This toolkit is intended as a resource for civil society coalitions and organisations with a rights-based understanding of education, who want to better understand the development and impact of privatisation in the education sector in their country, and who may be thinking about, or have already embarked on, advocacy against the harmful effects of privatisation. While reflecting primarily the context of the Global South–both low and middle-income countries–the toolkit draws on experiences and examples from around the world, and should provide useful background, insight and ideas for activists in any context or country.

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