Policy & Advocacy Advisor - Iraq

Policy & Advocacy Erbil, Iraq


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.
In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.


Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps seeks a passionate, articulate and outspoken expert in advocacy to communicate our vision for Iraq. Mercy Corps has provided critical assistance in Iraq to some of the country’s most vulnerable populations during a period of tremendous upheaval. Operational in Iraq since 2003 – and with a current annual budget of almost USD $75 million from programs funded by governmental and inter-governmental agencies–the country team is in the midst of a sustained emergency response while simultaneously engaging in long-term development programming. We are now searching for an experienced professional to elevate our vision and influence policymakers in country and worldwide. S/he will be able to clearly and articulately convey complex solutions to humanitarian and development issues; raise awareness of under-reported trends in the fluid context of Iraq; and seize upon topical issues that highlight our unique, on-the-ground perspective.


General Position Summary

The Policy and Advocacy Advisor will support and enable Mercy Corps’ efforts to ensure a robust and principled humanitarian, early recovery and development response that meets the needs of the affected communities. The position seeks, in collaboration with Mercy Corps global Policy & Advocacy (P&A) team, to influence policies and practices of national and international actors by leveraging evidence from programs and contextual understanding to maximize Mercy Corps’ voice both within Iraq and globally. The position will engage with UN agencies and all coordination mechanisms. S/he will work with programs and operations to develop a comprehensive advocacy strategy and field –driven messaging and ensure global elevation of critical issues through close collaboration with the global P&A team.


The P&A Advisor will establish and maintain relations with relevant stakeholders affected by the crisis and will develop and disseminate advocacy and policy documents, including talking points, briefing notes and position papers which outline the needs, challenges, on-the-ground dynamics and recommendations. The P&A advisor will create an information system with field teams to ensure relevant and timely information and work with global policy staff to tailor messages to influential policy makers. The Policy and Advocacy Advisor will actively communicate with all team members to ensure they are on message regarding current positions and talking points. S/he will track and analyze key policy initiatives, working with the global P&A team and partner agencies in joint advocacy and campaign initiatives. S/he will also work directly with programs to roll out advocacy trainings and in general work on building the capacity of the agency to ensure streamlining of advocacy in all programs. The successful candidate will be an inspirational writer, committed to advancing the organization’s strategy and elevating Mercy Corps’ profile in Iraq and worldwide.


Essential Job Responsibilities



  • In coordination with the Country Director and SMT, lead Mercy Corps policy and advocacy related to emergency, recovery and development initiatives in Iraq and lead field-based advocacy and communications work in close collaboration with the global team.
  • Track Iraq and regional policy developments including policies of regional states, donor policies and UN policy and notable emerging trends.
  • Work with field teams to build their capacity to ensure advocacy is streamlined into all of their work
  • Work with the field teams and global P&A team to plan and produce effective, thoughtful and timely written products that advance policy perspectives important to our mission.
  • Prepare internal briefing and positioning notes for Mercy Corps Iraq’s CD and broader country leadership, ahead of key meetings in and out of Iraq
  • Stay abreast of the fast-paced environment and challenges. Ensure that team members in the region are on message with our vision and position.
  • Advise and support the development and implementation of Mercy Corps policy and advocacy strategy in Iraq and further feed into Mercy Corps media and communication activities.
  • Ensure that the advocacy strategy development draws on Mercy Corps field experience and program expertise.
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of advocacy and communication work.
  • Ensure that policy and advocacy efforts acknowledge the nuanced and different needs of diverse groups of people, including refugees, IDPs, host community, women and girls, people with disabilities.
  • Support PAQ and Programs teams with identification and alignment of learning and research initiatives



  • Build and maintain close links with Mercy Corps field teams and regularly gather evidence/experiences from program staff so that analysis is grounded in and supports Mercy Corps’ program work.
  • Actively engage in key external forums such as task forces and working groups, and where appropriate take on leadership roles within these forums to advance collective advocacy in line with Mercy Corps Iraq’s advocacy strategy
  • Engage directly with the global P&A team to inform Mercy Corps’ global advocacy around the crisis.
  • Provide representation, at the discretion of the Country Director, with relevant local and international governmental and non-governmental actors in country and across the region
  • Develop and maintain up-to-date talking points on static positions as well as one-off, extra- ordinary events or challenges.
  • Work directly with Operations and Security to ensure elevation of key operational challenges to relevant audiences.



  • Provide advocacy training, accompaniment and advocacy advice to staff to build country program capacity and to improve the effectiveness of advocacy initiatives
  • Support staff in strengthening and developing national and regional advocacy networks and alliances that are strategic and tactical and support country and regional priorities.
  • Support, mentor, coach and guide staff and partners to design and implement local and national level advocacy initiatives including facilitating advocacy project design workshops when necessary



  • Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies as determined by country leadership.
  • Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies.




  • As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.




  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.


Supervisory Responsibility



Reports Directly To: Country Director

Works Directly With: Directors of Policy and Advocacy in the US and UK, Technical Support Unit, Senior Program Officers based in headquarter, Deputy Country Director, Program Leadership Team Humanitarian Access and Security Manager, PAQ and MEL team,


Knowledge and Experience

  • BA/S or equivalent in relevant field; MA/S preferred.
  • 3-5 years of experience successfully working with and managing advocacy and policy campaigns and initiatives in an NGO or legislative context, including past experience working with humanitarian issues, complex emergencies or countries transitioning from a humanitarian to a development context.
  • Good understanding of the possibilities and tactics for influencing decisions and policy makers, politicians, donors, and other key actors in the field.
  • Demonstrable experience of representation and policy and advocacy work, and engaging, managing and working effectively with a range of stakeholders, networks and coalitions.
  • Excellent analytical skills and demonstrable ability to think strategically, innovatively and practically to ensure achievement of desired change objectives.
  • Demonstrable ability to summarize and persuasively communicate complex information in written and verbal form to different audiences, including past experience leading the production of external written policy products.
  • Strong organizational skills and ability to effectively handle multiple tasks, work under pressure and meet tight deadlines.
  • English proficiency and excellent oral and written Arabic language skills are strongly preferred.
  • Demonstrated proficiency with the MS Office software (i.e., Word, Excel, PowerPoint) is required.
  • Previous experience working in the Middle East and good knowledge of the Middle East political context is highly desirable.


Success Factors

A successful candidate will have effective verbal and written communication, multi-tasking, organizational, and prioritization skills with an ability to effectively represent the organization and its interests to a diverse range of stakeholders, including local and international government officials, local civil society organizations, donors, other international organizations, the media, and the community. S/he will have great analytical skills, demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow and enforce procedures, meet deadlines, and work independently and cooperatively with team members, have strong people skills and the ability to motivate diverse teams. An interest and ability to travel and work in remote and dynamic environments, with experience in insecure environments is an advantage as is an awareness of and sensitivity to multi-cultural international development work and an ability to train and facilitate dialogue among a diverse group of individuals with various skill sets and working styles. S/he will have the ability to creatively problem-solve, to juggle multiple priorities under tight deadlines and to calmly and diplomatically deal with unexpected and sudden events impacting program operations, with patience, dynamism, and tenacity.


Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position is based in Erbil, Iraq and requires up to 50% travel within Iraq and to other countries within the Middle East. This position is unaccompanied and the location is eligible for hardship allowance and R&R benefits. Living conditions are in group housing: water, electricity and internet are present with some cuts.

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.


Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision.  Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.


Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives. 

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.


Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact. 

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.


Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.