West African Advocacy Fellowship on Drug Policy Reform

The Open Society Global Drug Policy Program and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa invite applications for the 2014 West African Advocacy Fellowship Program on Drug Policy Reform. Fellows will be hosted by the drug policy organization Release in London. 

This program supports those working in sectors related to drug policy in order to improve their advocacy skills and to enhance their capacity in working with the media on drug policy. The fellowship seeks to add to a core group of existing high-profile drug policy activists in the West African region, including people not necessarily working full-time on drug-related issues.

This two-week program takes place in October 2014 and includes the following topics:

  • Global overview of drug policy reform
  • Overarching issues relevant to drug policy reform
  • The international drug control system
  • Overview of international human rights in the context of drug policy
  • Drug policy developments in Africa
  • Effective campaigning
  • Media and public engagement

There will also be an opportunity to meet key drug policy experts and policy advocates based in the UK.

Eligibility Criteria

Successful candidates will have a track-record of public engagement in the issues of drug policy reform or another relevant field at the local, national or international levels.

Applications are welcome from those working in drug policy NGOs, law enforcement agencies, and government employees or academics working in this or related policy areas and who are based in West Africa.

Ineligibility Criteria

Please note: the purpose of this program is to promote the capacities of new advocates in drug policy. Current recipients of the Global Drug Policy Program’s and joint Global Drug Policy and Open Society Initiative for West Africa grants are not eligible to apply for the fellowship.

Purpose and Priorities

The objectives of the fellowship are for the participants to:

  • increase their knowledge of global drug policy reform issues on a region by region approach;
  • increase their understanding of the international drug control system and conflicts with other United Nations priorities;
  • have a greater awareness of the drug policy reform landscape and key figures within that movement;
  • establish links with those working in drug policy, particularly in the UK;
  • build and develop their communications skills, including for media interviews, press releases, press databases, public speaking;
  • have an understanding of the tools for debate, so that they can confidently challenge anti-reform positions;
  • improve their confidence as drug policy advocates both through participation in the program and through ongoing support from the host organization. 

The African fellowship program provides funding to a maximum of six people to attend the two-week program on drug policy reform.

On completion of the course, each fellow will be paired with a mentor at the host organization (Release) who will support him or her for a period of six months (November 2014–April 2015).  Mentoring will involve supporting the individual in press outreach; strategic development of public messaging; social media and any other relevant issue that needs to be addressed, with an agreed time limit as the mentor will be someone with a full-time job.


To be considered for the program, applicants should submit the following documents in English or French (as .doc or .pdf attachments to email) July 31, 2014, to [email protected]:

  • Statement of Purpose—the statement should describe the applicant’s interest in the program, his/her expectations, skills and qualifications, and the opportunities that may arise to apply what is learned after taking part in the fellowship.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)—should specify the applicant’s academic and professional background, a detailed description of previous employment, a list of academic and policy projects in which the applicant has been involved, public engagement record, a list of scholarships, fellowships and other honors.
  • Writing sample (optional)—the sample may be in either in English or in French and should demonstrate candidate’s expertise in a field related to drug policies.

The placement decision will be made by the program selection committee comprised of staff from the Open Society Foundations Global Drug Policy Program and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, host organization representatives and external reviewers.

Successful applicants will receive a response by August 8, 2014.