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"Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute" - impressions from this year's participants from Ukraine

This year under joint program of the Professional Lobbying and Advocacy Institute in Ukraine and Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University, two participants from Ukraine took part at course on professional lobbying and advocacy in USA.

Two-week professional training “Art and craft of lobbying” was held on 11-23 May 2015 in Washington, DC.

This course is for students and young professionals and aims to form consistent and strategic understanding of lobbying process, brief on tools used in advocacy campaigns as well as teach how to define the most efficient tools and use them based on your campaign’s goals and tasks.

On top of that, during the course significant attention was paid to ethical norms and rules in lobbying sphere.

Khrystyna Vilyura, this-year participant, share her impressions about the course: “Course on an art of lobbying is interesting for students who want to build their career in the lobbying as well as for young professionals.The program is built to give a theoretical base of profession and sphere and to learn how to use this knowledge.

More than 30 professionals – lobbyists and representatives of state authorities and NGOs shared their experience, case studies and decisions made in challenging situations. It is irreplaceable and crucial experience to have a conversation with these specialists who works with most powerful people in the world: congressmen, CEOs and owners of biggest world corporations, directors of largest international NGOs.

Besides, mostly the course is build-up as a dialog that allows participants to ask questions concerning the sphere and tasks interesting for them.

The biggest advantage of the course is its founder and facilitators – Distinguished Professors of American University James A. Thurber and Dr. Patrick J. Griffin. They have a great experience in science as well as significant practical background that help to make this course so concrete and real-word.

The course helps to structure your knowledge and practice in such spheres as campaign building, strategic messaging within information campaign, using social media and other tools as well as maintaining grassroots/grasstops campaigns.

To achieve course certificate you have to be active during the lectures as well as work on the group project – developing of lobbying plan pro or cons the draft law on TPA.

This year course was also particular because of its participants – half of them were from different countries with its specific political, economic and social systems: Brazil, Nigeria, Canada, Hungary, China and Ukraine.

Thus, participants had had an experience of working in a multinational team and got to learn about the practice of campaign implementation in different systems.

I’m sure that participation in such course is a great chance to obtain new knowledge, practice and get acquainted with the best experts and specialists in lobbying.

I would like to say thank you to the Professional Lobbying and Advocacy Institute in Ukraine, inter alia, its director Dennis Bazilevych  as well as American University and its Professor James Thurberfor this joint project and great opportunity for young Ukrainiansand self-development .

Mykola Vorobiov, the second participants, is also excited about the course. He is a director of the Centre for Eastern European Perspectives at Washington, DC – organization that represents Ukrainian interests in USA as well as stands against Russia propaganda on the West. “Unfortunately, today Ukrainian authorities don’tcommunicate enough on the international level, including communication with its strategic partner – USA. Today, Ukraine hasn’t appointed Extraordinary and Authorized Ambassador of Ukraine in USA. At the same time, officially only one journalist of UkrInform works and reports from USA.

The course on advocacy and lobbying organized by American University is important as the best US lobbyists, lawyers and PR specialists gave a speech there. During the course, experts shared their practical experience that is crucial for the legislative introduction of lobbying and advocacy. Civil society, business, other stakeholders and a group of interests will have practical instruments to influence public policy that could significantly decrease the level of corruption in Ukraine. Indeed, earlier USA had already passed the tough and difficult way to implement such reforms. As a result, today this lobbying is an essential mechanism in American democracy model.

Another advantage of the two-week course is a practical workshop. At the end of the course, its participants had to present project. All class was divided in two groups that lobby pro or cons particular draft law on international trade between USA and other countries. Theoretical knowledge and its practical application during the course helped participants to present and appeal group’s position.

Lobbying as profession face a challenge today in USA as corruption stories appear commonly and people who work as lobbyists refuse to register.

But still, the legislative system in USA is constantly improving, thus it overcome this challenges successfully. Today, it is very important to Ukraine to implement American lobbying model and introduce lobbying and advocacy through legislative. Additionally, an awareness campaign on the matter has to be implemented. Citizens have to understand who lobbyists are and why they are important for dividing the authorities and business. Thus, lobbyist as a businessman and social active person has to be a mediator between the society and politics. And rules of the game have to be clear and equal for everyone.

The course on lobbying and advocacy was a great instrument not only for the implementation of reform in Ukraine, but for the further activity of the Center for Eastern European Perspectivesin USA. Due to the obtained knowledge, the Center will be more efficient and effective. Thus, Ukrainian interests will be protected on the international level.