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Amnesty International Campaign Manual



Outreach is about AI reaching out to other groups, organizations and individuals to work together on common concerns and beliefs about human rights. This type of work has always been at the heart of AI's campaigning. It stems from AI's central principle that human rights are the responsibility of all, and from the recognition that no matter how large AI may grow, AI will be most effective if it can persuade others to act in defence of human rights.


Activating society / 181

    What is outreach? / 182

    Who can AI reach out to? / 182

    The benefits of outreach / 182

    Deciding outreach priorities / 183

    Outreach in practice / 184

    Outreach structures / 185

    Checklist: What others can be asked to do / 187

The Business Community / 189

Military and Law Enforcement Officers / 201

The International Legal Network / 207

Trade Unions / 213

Youth Activists / 217

Religious Groups / 223

The Medical Sector / 229

Working on Women's Human Rights / 235

Working on Children's Human Rights / 241

Cooperation with the Human Rights Movement / 247

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

Martin Luther King,

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate What is outreach?

In practice outreach can be:

N    single actions, such as an approach to a women's organization on a specific concern in the course of a particular country campaign;

N    the building of longer-term relationships with different professional or organizational sectors, such as the legal community or trade unions. This can also offer fundraising and membership opportunities.

AI approaches others because human rights are the responsibility of all. AI has a responsibility to inform others about human rights violations and about how to help protect human rights. This can be achieved by asking people to support AI as an organization, but most importantly by persuading them to act directly.

When we approach other organizations to work with us, we should expect to be asked to support their causes (the principle of mutuality or mutual interests). This is almost a “natural” law that operates in the dynamics of working collaboratively.

AI's principles mean that it believes that winning support from other groups in defence of human rights should not be conditional on AI supporting the claims of those groups. In practice, however, AI Sections do receive requests for reciprocal support. Care should be taken when turning down such requests that we do not leave the impression that pursuing AI's objectives, or protecting its independence or impartiality, are more important than those of the organization asking for our support.

Who can AI reach

out to?

Outreach is targeted towards organized sectors of society and influential individuals _ professional associations such as doctors and lawyers, and organizations from particular sectors of the community such as women, youth and business.

Outreach is targeted in this way because:

N    it reflects how our societies are organized;

N    it allows AI to reach the greatest number of people (already organized) with the least expenditure of resources;

N    it allows AI to generate specialized activity from those parts of society that may have the most impact on particular human rights situations.

The benefits of outreach

Reaching out to other organizations and individuals can increase AI's effectiveness in two distinct ways:

N    internationally, because specific organizations or individuals may have a particular role to play in influencing the human rights situation in certain countries;

N    domestically, through developing AI's influence, credibility, specialist expertise, fundraising, membership and campaigning capacity in our own societies.

It can also promote other groups and build their capacity for action.


Outreach sectors can exert influence on target countries directly and indirectly because:

N    the sector or individual influences those responsible for human rights violations in the target country (they may even already be actively opposing the human rights violations);

N    the sector is part of an international body or network believed to be influential, for example, international professional associations;

N    the sector is influential in gaining action from others in your society, including your government, on the human rights situation in the target country.

It is largely from an analysis of these factors that decisions should be made about which outreach sectors should be targeted in campaigning strategies on different countries.


Outreach can also influence home governments' human rights policies and actions, and can contribute to the development of AI's work by:

N    demonstrating the breadth of support for AI's goals in different sectors of society;

N    using existing communication channels within different sectors to reach wider or more specialist audiences;

N    giving access to specialist knowledge or expertise on countries, issues, organizational and legal matters;

N    building human rights awareness and human rights constituencies;

N    providing a source of new activists/members/supporters and income.

Deciding outreach priorities

The combination of international and domestic impact should govern decisions on developing outreach work. It is very easy, though, for outreach to develop in an unplanned and haphazard way.

A strategic analysis of your society in relation to the region and the world, and of AI's place in your society, should be the starting point for deciding outreach priorities. However, in order to maximize effectiveness and ensure coherence in AI's work as an international organization, your Section's outreach priorities would also need to reflect the priorities defined at the international level. The following questions may assist in this analysis.


g    Is the sector influential in its own society? Does the sector have important contacts with the home government, with other sectors of society or in the media? Does this sector have its own media? Is it able to mobilize large numbers of people? Can it draw on significant resources?

g    Does the sector have international influence? Does it have access to international structures or organizations? Does it have links or contacts with counterparts in target countries?

g    Does the sector have the capacity to act on AI's concerns? Does the organization have an individual or committee with specific responsibility for human rights? Does it have a mechanism for applying pressure in pursuit of AI's concerns? Can it contribute to AI's country or theme research?

g    Is the sector approachable? How easy is it to identify and contact the relevant people? Are they open to AI's message? Will we need to invest a lot of time and resources in preparing approaches? What are their current concerns and how do they relate to AI's? Are there creative ways in which AI can draw the links? Will special materials need to be prepared?

g    Is it a sector which we do not reach and mobilize already through our general activities? Do we need to make a special effort to reach this sector? What is the potential for raising funds from organizations and individuals through targeted approaches?

g    How will our relationship with this sector affect the credibility and impartiality of AI? Are there advantages or disadvantages to being seen to be associated with this sector? Is there any chance that this sector might misuse its relationship with AI to our disadvantage?

Outreach in practice

There are many different ways to coordinate outreach, some of which require little more than keeping open channels of communication.

Developing contacts in a range of sectors can be a simple way of achieving some of the purposes of outreach without the need to establish administrative systems or commit significant resources.

Often AI's objectives enjoy support in a wide cross-section of society. By approaching different organizations over time, it is possible to learn how they may be able to assist AI and whom to contact. Attending relevant conferences and meetings is one way of developing these contacts.

The quality of outreach work is more important than the quantity. When deciding to approach a sector, a Section must commit sufficient resources to have an impact. Relations with other organizations and individuals can be damaged by the apparent lack of consistency and commitment which can result from inadequate planning of outreach approaches.


c    Identify the right person to contact in the organization.

c    Find out what they can do, and how they may be able to help.

c    Be clear about what you want them to do.

c    Be prepared to explain why you want them to take action.

c    Only ask them to do what it is possible for them to do.

c    Be familiar with the current concerns of the organization you are approaching.

c    Provide enough information to enable them to take the action you wish.

c    Ask to be copied in on any action taken and on the responses and results.

c    Be clear about how you wish to follow up any meeting and maintain contact.

c    Maintain regular contact. Establish clear expectations in both AI and the organization approached on the level of contact, provision of information, etc.

c    AI's publications are an important tool for outreach. Develop a mailing list of these outreach contacts whom you have prioritized and make sure that they regularly receive AI's publications relevant to their areas of interest.

Make full use of the keywording system of AI publications to identify the publications that can be used to maintain your outreach contacts.

c    In many Sections, Urgent Actions (UAs) are used to develop contacts with some organizations. They are short, clear and are categorized by gender, occupation and so on in ways that are useful to particular organizations.

Outreach structures

The specialist or professional

coordination group

Some Sections build outreach structures because they provide a sustained base for campaigning _ a group or network of people who are motivated, have a particular expertise and are ready to work for AI. It is important, however, to plan these rather than simply allow structures to develop and absorb resources in a way that does not reflect the potential for helping victims and potential victims of human rights violations.

Outreach structures should exist not just to do the work with a particular section of society but also to make sure that outreach is integrated into the campaigning work of the movement. Outreach structures need to be closely involved in planning and implementation of campaigning.

There are a number of variations of this type of specialist group. The group can consist, for example, of AI members from a particular sector such as police personnel, lawyers or doctors, and can sometimes include AI members who have developed a speciality in this area.

The most important functions of these groups are: carrying out actions assigned to them because of their specialist expertise; developing, coordinating and supporting the outreach of other groups and networks (in a similar way to a country co-group); and mobilizing key individuals and organizations from within their


The groups function similarly to an AI group. They meet regularly, plan work, allocate responsibilities and devise and implement strategies for getting others _ in this case, others from their “target sector” _ to act.

As with a local group, the specialist group will seek to involve and coordinate the activity of other AI members from their sector (and attract new members to their AI group), as well as to harness the potential of the sector as a whole through targeted campaigning and fundraising materials.

This model encourages mutual accountability and a commitment to group work. As it involves people regularly meeting and discussing issues, it can encourage creativity and flexibility in individual campaigns and the development of AI's work with different sectors.

Below are some models of how Sections organize their outreach specialist structures.

The network

A “network” usually consists of a number of AI members sharing an interest or identity which gives them a particular role to play in taking up human rights issues. This might mean, for example, journalists taking up freedom of expression issues, or lawyers working on unfair trials. The role of the network means more than this, however. Just like the specialist or professional groups, they are expected to build their expertise on the relevant sector and to mobilize others to work on all AI's concerns.

Unlike a local group, however, a network is considered ”loose” because its members do not meet regularly and they have no regular structures. Many AI Sections have such networks. They seek action from them through special newsletters, usually featuring cases of people from these sectors. In some cases these simply ask for the same letter-writing action as is included in other action material. In others there is a request to use their special interest/identity as it may have more influence. Some will ask network members to approach other members of their sector for action.

Servicing these networks is sometimes done by a coordinating committee, sometimes by a volunteer or staff member from a central office. Some Sections seek to cover the costs of newsletters and servicing by charging an extra subscription fee.

Where networks are serviced principally by newsletters it can be very difficult to monitor accurately what action members of the network take. Developments in communications technology may help to overcome some of these problems. Providing individuals with targeted action materials remains relatively cost-intensive, however, both in terms of time and money.

The advisory group

Some Sections have formed a smaller advisory group from either a specialist or professional coordination group or network. The aim is to gain advice on how the sector might contribute to AI's mission and development and on the best strategies for achieving AI's goals. As the term suggests, there is less expectation that the group will undertake the program of work themselves. This may increase the likelihood of AI being able to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of extremely busy people unwilling to make a greater time commitment to AI. This model has been tried by some AI Sections. It can be both a starting point for outreach work to new sectors, and a way of providing practical advice and assistance to a Section's ongoing outreach program.

An advisory group may, for example, provide advice on key people to approach for support, what it is best to ask from whom, and how best to make that approach.

The local group with a sector brief

Some Sections, particularly smaller ones, delegate the development of outreach work on particular sectors to existing AI groups. This approach has been adopted by the Venezuelan Section, for example.

The most effective and efficient target sector work is that carried out at the local level, utilizing the skills, contacts and affiliations of AI members to spread our message further, to mobilize non-members to take action and to involve other organizations and groups in campaigning for human rights.

Target Sector Review

(AI Index: ACT 70/01/91)


Whichever approach or structure is adopted, it is important to integrate strategies for AI's development in different sectors with the Section's overall campaigning program.

Engaging in outreach

All parts of AI, from local groups to the International Secretariat, should be engaged in outreach. Some examples are:

Local groups    M    Organizations         Local women's organizations,

            at local level:        religious organizations, schools

Section    M    Organizations         National women's organizations

            at national level:    legal and medical associations,

                        national trade unions

IS        M    Organizations at     International trade union bodies,

            international level :    international legal, medical or

                        women's associations

Outreach is an important means of building a cooperative and collaborative environment for engaging in effective human rights work. It offers an opportunity to build on strengths and improve on weaknesses

Identifying priority sectors

The analysis of your society in relation to its immediate region and the world may, for example, indicate that your society is particularly well placed _ through military, cultural, economic or other strategic links _ to influence certain other countries. The analysis of AI in relation to your society may suggest that new members are most likely to be found in one sector (for example, medical), or that in order to be more influential in your society you need more support from another sector (for example, religious organizations).

The sectors found to be common to both analyses are likely to emerge as the priority sectors for developing outreach structures. Identifying such sectors enables the easiest integration of the short-term goal of influencing international human rights situations and the long-term goal of building AI's capacity to be influential domestically.

“Dialogue” means give and take, active listening _ a circle of communication, not a one-way demanding communication.


Structures normally make demands on resources _ the time of staff or volunteers as well as money for such things as telephone calls, meetings, photocopying, postage, newsletters, etc. For this reason the development of outreach sectors must be planned rather than accidental. Without planning, resources may be unavailable when they are most needed.


AI Netherlands developed the following criteria for including sectors of society in systematic outreach programs, and the aims the Section might have for outreach work with each sector.


N    Possible impact on target countries

N    Size

N    “Preventive aspects”

N    Availability of information for “solidarity action”


N    Action

N    Education

N    Supply specialist knowledge

N    Recruitment

Copies of the now-discontinued Lawyers' Group Newsletter, formerly produced by AIUK.

Amnesty International Campaign Manual