Skip to main content

International policy engagement

What is meant by international policy and how can you engage policymakers working abroad or for international organisations?

Understanding international policy contexts

International policy engagement can refer to interactions with policymakers or actors working in legislatures in other countries (e.g., national Parliaments or other national Government) as well as interactions with supranational, or pan-governmental organisations (e.g. the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) or the African Union (AU)).

It may include working with Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and International Government Organisations (INGOs), as well as third sector organisations such as charities and think tanks — many of which operate internationally.

Engaging policymakers internationally

When engaging international policymakers, it is important to understand local policy landscapes. To navigate this, it can be helpful to establish connections with relevant local organisations such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

NGOs work both nationally and internationally (INGOs). Engaging with INGOs can be useful when trying to influence a wider international audience. Large and influential INGOs include organisations such as Oxfam, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Save The Children.

You could, if relevant to your research, engage arms of the UK government operating internationally, including the diplomatic service such as British Embassies, High Commissions, Consulate, and the British Council.

Researchers wanting to engage international policymakers should follow similar mechanisms for policy engagement as applicable to UK policy engagement, adapting this to the international context or setting. This can include:

Engagement via international organisations

Successful policy engagement with relevant International Organisations (IOs) can lead to your research having impact at an international level within a country or across multiple countries.

Working with the European Union

The European Commission acts like the EU’s civil service and regularly consults academics and draws on their research to assist policymaking. The Commission may seek expertise in a given area, for example through workshops, targeted consultations, seminars, or meetings.

The European Parliament is the EU’s law-making body, passing laws based on the European Commission’s proposals and also proposing new legislation. It works alongside the Council of the EU (also known as the Council of Ministers) made up of EU member state governments.

The European Parliament, elected every five years, is made up of 705 Members of the European Parliament (MEPS) from 27 EU Member States. They have the power to raise constituent concerns, and to question and lobby the European Commission and Council of Ministers.

Much of the work of MEPs takes place in committees. If your research is relevant to a committee, you can contact the sitting members’ staff. Within the European Parliament, there are also Intergroups, similar to UK APPGs, which are informal cross-parliamentary groups which focus on a particular issue which can be useful starting point. Most Intergroups have their own websites where you can find contact details.

Working with the United Nations

The UN is the largest IO with 193 member states. It is divided into a number of specialist funds and agencies which focus on particular areas of research and policy, for example the World Health Organisation, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is useful to identify UN funds and agencies relevant to your research. Most have their own websites which list points of contact or areas of specific interest.

Working with the World Bank

The World Bank is made up of five institutions committed to reducing poverty, increasing prosperity and promoting sustainable development through sourcing funding and knowledge for developing countries. The World Bank engages with stakeholders, including academics and researchers, through a variety of channels, including consultations. You can find a list of open consultations on The World Bank website, which includes guidelines and methods to contribute. It can be useful to regularly check to see if relevant consultations are currently open, which you can contribute to with your research or expertise, when relevant.

Working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation ad Development

The OECD’s mission is to build better policies for better lives. With 34 member countries from across the globe, engaging with the OECD can give your research significant reach. The OECD regularly organises consultations and calls for contribution. They also host events, such as conferences and webinars, which can be an opportunity to expand your networks.

Working with other International Organisations

There are many other IOs covering both different regions and different subjects. It is useful to identify IOs which are relevant to your research, both in terms of theme and geography.


  • Identify International Organisations you want to engage and research their role, remit and areas of focus.
  • Follow relevant organisations on social media and search for policy contacts using LinkedIn.
  • Engage with local partners, including NGOs, when seeking to input into policy discussions for foreign governments. Connect with INGOs, including those based in the UK, where your research aligns.
  • Consider connecting with representatives from the British Embassy in whichever country you are working, as connections there could provide routes to local or national decision-makers.
  • Consider hosting policy events – such as roundtables or webinars – where you can invite relevant people or parties within the organisation to take part.

On this page