Policy and Advocacy Advisor - Erbil, Iraq

Policy & Advocacy Erbil, Iraq


About Mercy Corps  

Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact. 

Program / Department Summary  

Mercy Corps seeks a passionate, articulate and outspoken expert in advocacy to build on our program’s research and analysis to influence policy, nationally and internationally, in 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 $70 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 the 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 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.  

Essential Responsibilities 


  • Engage and work with key stakeholders, within Mercy Corps and externally, to plan and implement influencing strategies that deliver Mercy Corps Iraq’s strategic objectives, aligned with the Mercy Corps’ Global 2030 Strategy.  
  • In coordination with teams across all offices and the Global Policy and Advocacy team, lead and create products which advance policy perspectives important to Mercy Corps Iraq’s mission. Produce, coordinate and commission policy briefs on key issues, promoting the experience of partners, and communities and clearly communicating policy positions and recommendations to external audiences.  Support other teams, including program performance and quality and program with identification and alignment of learning and research initiatives. Support in the creation of a learning agenda which aligns programmatic and policy and advocacy efforts, when possible. 
  • Deliver a range of influencing activities, including events, commissions and undertaking publications, drafting position papers, and briefing, convening policy dialogues with policy members, etc. 
  • Through strategic communications, elevate Mercy Corps Iraq’s ability to influence on key issues at the country, regional and global levels 
  • Support broader mercy corps global influence efforts both on Iraq and on key themes and issues, and provide briefings and updates as required to Mercy Corps SMT, program leadership, and Global Policy and Advocacy Colleagues. 
  • Track Iraq and regional policy developments including policies of regional states, donor policies and UN policy and notable emerging trends.   
  • 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. 
  • Ensure that regional and national policy influencing work is culturally and politically sensitive, informed by and linked to the Mercy Corps’ work 
  • Lead the development and implementation of Mercy Corps policy and advocacy strategy in Iraq and further feed into Mercy Corps media and communication activities.  Monitor and evaluate the impact of advocacy and communication work.  
  • Stay abreast of the fast-paced environment and challenges. Ensure that team members across all Mercy Corps Iraq offices are on message with our vision and position. Identify and advise management on emerging opportunities, risks and challenges for policy influencing (including identifying and advising on potential influencing work that will contribute to policy objectives). 
  • Ensure that policy and advocacy efforts acknowledge the nuanced and different needs of diverse groups of people, including refugees, IDPs, returnees, host community, women and girls, people with disabilities.  


  • Build networks and collaborate with local and international organizations working in the same scope of work. 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. 
  • Participate in relevant external debates, networking and dissemination of learning and analysis amongst allied organizations and community groups in pursuit of agreed policy influencing strategies and priorities 
  • Build and maintain close links with Mercy Corps field teams and regularly gather evidence/experiences from program staff to ensure analysis is grounded in and supports Mercy Corps’ program work.  
  • Engage directly with the Global Policy and Advocacy team to inform Mercy Corps’ global advocacy around the crisis.  
  • Attend relevant meetings and participate actively in wider organizational development and change processes and teams. 


  • With support from the Global Policy and Advocacy team, provide advocacy training, 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.  

Supervisory Responsibility 



Reports Directly To: Country Director 

Works Directly With: Country Senior Management Team, Program Leadership Team, PAQ Team, Operations Team, and Safety and Security, Directors of Policy and Advocacy in the US and UK, and Technical Support Unit 

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders 

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. 

Minimum Qualification & Transferable Skills  

  • 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 INGO or legislative context, including past experience working with complex emergencies or countries transitioning from a humanitarian to a development context.  
  • Strong 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. 

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 and have signed on to the Interagency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. 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. 

As a safeguarding measure, Mercy Corps screens all potential US-Based employees. This is done following the conclusion of recruitment and prior to assuming full employment. 

Our screening process is designed to be transparent and completed in partnership with new Team Members. You will have the opportunity to disclose any prior convictions at the conclusion of the recruitment process before the check is initiated. We ask that you do not disclose any prior convictions in your application materials or during the recruitment process.