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Amnesty International Campaign Manual



“The greatest evil today is indifference. To know and not to act is a way of consenting to these injustices. The planet has become a very small place. What happens in other countries affects us.”

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

The massive growth and changes in world trade, including in the field of military, security and police transfers, the integration of the world economy and the communications revolution have transformed international relations. There are more links between more states than ever before. These changes have opened up opportunities and challenges for AI's campaigning. This chapter looks at these new and exciting areas for AI's work in the following three sections:


Relations between Countries / 31

Military, Security and Police Links and Transfers / 39

Information Technology / 51



The world has become a smaller place. States are more closely linked than ever before, through trade, international relations and modern communication systems. Finding those links and making the best use of them is an important part of AI's work in the modern world. This section looks at:

N    Relations between countries / 32

N    Information about relations between countries / 32

N    Links with the government in the target country / 33

N    Links with society in the target country / 34

N    Using the links / 37

Intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, are good starting points for gathering information about your target country and researching links between your own country and the target country

© UN Relations between


AI must take account of the international political environment in which we campaign. Usually, we have some basic understanding about the broad nature of the relations (or lack of relations) between our own country and the country in which the human rights violations we wish to address are taking place.* Even when we do not consciously discuss such relations, they influence our planned actions.

In trying to develop a more strategic approach to campaigning, discussion about the relations between countries is often helpful. Sometimes it is useful to have the discussion on the basis of existing knowledge. Sometimes it is worth finding out the details in a specific area. The important thing is to develop our capacity to use the information to make our campaigning more effective.

There are a number of areas where Sections can choose to develop specialist approaches:

N    Military relations

In this area we have specific policies and action strategies on military, security and police (MSP) transfers (see next section). Some AI Sections have also developed specialist groups of military or former military people, police or former police who are AI members and are willing to use their professional skills or status in AI work. The development of this specialist capacity was prioritized by the 1995 International Council Meeting (ICM), AI's supreme policy-making body which is held biennially.

N    Economic relations

In this area some Sections have developed specialist groups, involving AI members with a background in the business world, to make approaches to companies and business people about how they can contribute to human rights (see Chapter 10). The further development of work on company approaches was prioritized by the 1995 ICM. There have also been movement-wide policy discussions about how we can most effectively work for human rights in the context of the economic relations between governments. Many governments have policies which link human rights and economic relations with other countries.

N    Cultural relations

In this area the development of AI's work has been more sporadic. It has included outreach to religious communities by many Sections. There have also been a number of campaigning initiatives which have been linked to international sporting events, such as the Olympic Games.

Information about

relations between


In order that Sections can best analyse which links provide the best strategic opportunities, individual country strategies provided by the IS should:

N    state which sectors of the government/society are most responsible for human rights violations and which are most likely to be in a position to influence the human rights situation;

N    state which international links have the most potential for influencing a human rights situation in a particular country.

AI Sections are best placed to develop the knowledge and expertise on the links between their society and the society of the target country, and the human rights potential of these links.

Fulfilling this potential is likely to need a combination of AI's campaigning techniques, including outreach, lobbying, company approaches, publicity work and letter-writing.

Links with the government in the

target country

The following questions may help you determine the links between your society and the government in the target country:


g    Which international organizations are your government and the government of the target country members of? Do they belong to the UN, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the UN Security Council, regional organizations, the Non-Aligned Movement or trade associations?

g    What is the position of your foreign affairs ministry in relation to the country? Apologist? Adversary? Mixed?

g    Has the target country been the subject of parliamentary or government hearings in the past few years? In what connection and with what results? Who testified, and what link if any exists between the testimony and AI's concerns?

g    Does your government belong to an aid consortium relevant to the target country? Such consortiums may provide an opportunity for raising or discussing AI's concerns.

g    Does your government provide Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to other countries? Which ones? Have AI's concerns been raised during discussions on ODA programs? Is there an explicit human rights component to discussions?

g    Are there formal connections between your MSP agencies and those in the target country through international bodies or alliances?

g    How do these associations function? Are there MSP transfers between your country and the target country?

g    How much is known about the target government officials most directly responsible for human rights violations? Did any of the officials or politicians live, travel, study, train or serve in your country at any time? When, where and in whose company? Are there professors, business executives, foreign service officers past or present, journalists or others who could offer a first-hand view of the officials, what motivates them, who they think is important?

g    Does the government of the target country routinely send trade delegations, delegates to professional and cultural conferences and events, and other semi-official or unofficial emissaries to your country? And vice versa?

g    Has the government hired public relations agents in your country? Who are they? Are they open to a meeting to discuss AI concerns?

g    Is there an embassy of the target country in your country?

g    Is there a “fixer” attached to the target country's embassy in your country _ someone who arranges invitations, receptions, travel for members of parliament or other important people in your country? How public are the activities of the “fixer”, or how possible is it to monitor them?

g    Does your government have a “special visitors” program through which leading individuals from other societies can be invited?

g    Who in government and private institutions has a knowledge of, or special interest in, the country of concern?

Links with society in the target country

The following questions may help you determine the links between your society and that of the target country:


g    What are the powerful economic, social and cultural influences on the government or non-governmental entity from within the society?

g    Is religion a powerful force in the country? Which religions and which government officials are most influential? Is there a connection between the religion/s and the religious organizations in your country? Are there any relevant events, visits or exchanges happening?

g    Are there a number of formal political parties competing for power? Do they have international links with other parties of a similar political system? Are they members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union? Do they have youth or women's sections/departments that are linked with international federations? Do these have contact with organizations in your country?

g    Who are the most important business and industrial leaders in the country? Which of them has lived, studied or worked in your country? Who are their colleagues or associates in your country? Are there links through trade or industry associations? Do any of them represent joint venture holdings with companies based in your country? Have any of them ever expressed public concern for human rights or been detained by former governments?

g    What is the volume of trade between the societies? In whose favour is the balance of trade? Is it growing or decreasing? What is the nature of the trade _ services, manufactured goods, primary products? Are there forthcoming trade promotions? Is there contact through trade associations or regulatory organizations? Is either government actively involved in encouraging trade through incentives, seminars, bilateral contact?

g    Are trade unions powerful in the country? Are they officially represented in government? What is the government's relationship with the International Labour Organisation (ILO)? Are the unions active on wider issues, outspoken, independent? What are their internationally affiliated unions and umbrella groups? Are they members of international unions or federations which have affiliates in your country? Are there regular contacts between union members and officials in the two countries?

g    Is the media influential on government policy in the target country? Does the media ever publish reports of human rights violations by the government? Is it self-censored, government controlled, or free? Does it have correspondents based in your country? Is there an active foreign press corps there? Do media organizations from your country have correspondents based there? What is the level of ownership of television and radio? Do they receive international transmissions?

g    Is the government sensitive to its image in the international media? And to the media in your country? Why? What is the routine level of media interest in your country? When was the most recently increased media and public interest in the target country? What caused this?

g    Is there an active bar/legal association? Does it influence legislative reform? Does it take a stand on human rights violations? Is it a member of regional/worldwide professional associations? Did leading professionals train or practice in your society? Are there historical links between the professions? Are there visiting or exchange programs between the professions in your society?

g    Do other professional associations have influence? How are academics and internationally known writers, scholars, doctors, specialists and laureates regarded? Are there institutional or organizational links between your society and the target country in these areas? Are there exchange programs for academics/students? Are there institutions about which the government seems to take a “hands-off” policy?

g    What are the communications links between the societies? In particular, is mail delivered, is it monitored or otherwise interfered with? Is it necessary for people to pay bribes for mail delivery? Is franked mail preferable to stamped (in some countries letters are stolen for the resale value of the foreign stamps)? Is registered mail delivered more reliably than regular mail? Is the telephone system functioning throughout the country? Are international calls monitored? What languages will operators understand? Is it possible to obtain telephone numbers through directory information? Are fax machines widely used in government and business? Does e-mail offer opportunities for reaching important audiences?

g    Do human rights assemblies, legal aid institutes and other domestic human rights groups exist legally? Are their leaders free to travel? Are there ways to strengthen the domestic human rights lobby? (This needs to be discussed with the IS, which is in touch with all such bodies.)

g    Is there an expatriate/exile community from the target country resident in your country? What is its relationship with the home country? Does it provide the basis of a solidarity movement for opposition groups in the home country? Does it contribute to any human rights movements there? Is it associated with (armed) opposition groups? Does it have its own media? Is it influential with sections of government or the society in the home country?

g    What are the sporting links between your societies? Do your societies have the same national sports? Are sports stars in your society famous in that society? Are they seen as “role models” in either society? Are there major sporting contacts/events scheduled over the next year? Will these be attracting major media coverage in both societies?

g    What are the cultural links between your societies? Are musical, literature or theatrical traditions shared? Are popular music stars in your society famous/attract publicity in the target country? Are musical or theatrical tours planned between the societies?

g    What are the links between your academic institutions and those in the target country? Are they linked through the Internet and e-mail? Are there exchange programs ?

g    Are there city/region links or twinning arrangements between the two societies? Do these include exchanges of officials, students, teachers and others on official visits that may provide opportunities for building dialogue?

g    Is there tourism between your societies? Is tourism a major source of revenue for the other society? What proportion of this tourism does your society represent? Does this raise opportunities for spreading human rights information? g    What is the popular perception in your society/media of the other society? Does this represent an obstacle to generating the necessary human rights action?

g    Is there an AI Section in the country?

Using the links

Which of these links will be most useful, and how they can be used creatively, will change from country to country and over time. Some illustrative examples are included in this manual to show how links have been used in the past.

AI has policies on how these links may be used in its campaigning for human rights, and it is important to know these and to keep up to date with the changes (policy is decided at ICMs).

Developing knowledge about the country and society you wish to influence is vital to knowing which links offer the best opportunities and when.

N    Some governments seeking closer economic relationships with your country or to join a particular economic or political bloc or organization can be very sensitive to the raising of concerns about their human rights record. This might make them susceptible to pressure.

N    A presidential, trade or cultural visit can present many opportunities for campaigning. They provide a focus and many others will also be working to generate interest and media coverage _ albeit with a different angle.

N    Some governments actively promote a particular image of their country to build tourism. Again, this can make them particularly sensitive to the different images conjured up by knowledge of their human rights record. It can be easier to use this existing awareness of a country as a hook to gain interest and shift perceptions than to create entirely new perceptions.

N    As links between countries grow, so they extend beyond the specialized area of foreign affairs ministries. A close relationship between governments may involve the education, industry and trade, defence, finance and other departments of governments. This can mean that while the foreign affairs ministry has positive policies, they are not reflected in the behaviour or policies of other departments, or human rights have remained compartmentalized. Each department should be encouraged to have a human rights strategy.

N    Building the profile of particular human rights activists by inviting them on a speaking tour, or persuading others to invite them, can help to build connections between human rights activists in both countries and provide greater personal protection to the individuals in their work.

N    Encouraging contact between different sectors of your society and their counterparts in another society around human rights issues can help to build lasting relationships and a commitment to take action. It can also increase knowledge and expertise on what would be the best forms of action to take. The international city and community twinning movement has grown rapidly in recent years, leading to increased contact between schools, mayors, local businesses and cultural organizations across many societies.

N    At least one Section has persuaded a parliamentary committee to institute an annual review of their government's record on human rights internationally. This review includes taking public and private submissions from concerned individuals and organizations.

* AI often refers internally to these relations as military, economic and cultural relations (MEC).

Sri Lanka and Turkey have both promoted themselves as tourist destinations. In both cases AI Sections have used this popular image and contrasted it with the grim reality of human rights violations. The UK Section mailed their supporters an envelope containing “holiday photographs from Turkey”, which consisted of photographs of victims of human rights violations. Other Sections have produced brochures highlighting human rights violations and approached travel agents asking them to display these along with the travel brochures. This poster was produced by AIUSA for a campaign against human rights violations in Sri Lanka and displayed on a roadside billboard. Campaign material displayed in places normally associated with commercial advertising and travel information can make the necessary link between the image of an attractive holiday destination and the reality of human rights violations.

There is a single category of links between countries where AI may take a position of expressing concerns, raising questions or calling for cessation in very specific circumstances. This is in the case of military, security

or police transfers.

During an official trade promotion of India in Australia, AI members handed out letters to the Australian guests arriving at functions, providing information on one particular human rights case and asking them to raise the case with visiting Indian Government officials. An

e-mail link with a school in an Indian city was part of the promotion. AI members used this to register Australians' concern and begin a discussion over the case and other human rights violations perpetrated against Indian schoolchildren.

An Australian theatre group, sponsored by the Australian Government, travelled to Jakarta as part of an Australian promotion in Indonesia. One member of the group was so concerned about human rights violations in East Timor that he staged a personal protest during the performance. His protest subsequently received significant media coverage in Australia.

During campaigns on countries in Africa and Latin America, AI Sections have used their societies' interest in the music from these countries to interest people in the human rights situation. They have produced music tapes, held concerts and staged other events.

Aid, development assistance, trade and conditionality: AI's position

As with sanctions or boycotts AI does not oppose or support the attaching of human rights conditions to trade, aid or development assistance. The debate continues through the human rights movement on the “issue of conditionality”. On the one hand “conditionality” is clearly one of the most important levers of influence that governments possess and a visible way of demonstrating concern. On the other it tends to be effective because of imbalances of power. It can be used in the interests of maintaining that imbalance and may have an adverse impact on the economic, social and cultural rights of many people. For these reasons it can place those supporting sanctions and boycotts in opposition to the views of the domestic human rights movement. AI does not formally engage in this debate.

AI's position most simply expressed is that it is the responsibility of all aid bodies, development organizations and governments to look at how their policies and practices are affecting and contributing to all human rights.

Targeting investors in China “Should businesses and their shareholders be concerned about violations of human rights in the countries in which they work? Such a question is likely to receive an equivocal or evasive answer, if it receives an answer at all. But it is a question which in future is likely to be asked with increasing insistence.”

These words, by Chairman of the Business Group of AIUK Sir Geoffrey Chandler, opened an article entitled “Business and Human Rights”, a paper included in the investors pack prepared for the campaign on China.

During the China campaign, AI produced an information pack aimed at Sections who were approaching businesses and individuals investing in China. It included opinion pieces, fact sheets, suggested actions and summarized AI's policy on approaches to business sectors.

Sanctions and boycotts: AI's position

AI does not call for, oppose or support restrictions on links between societies. Arguments rage and will continue to rage about the effectiveness and impact of sanctions or boycotts in different circumstances. AI avoids these arguments in relation to the many different countries where it has concerns. It concentrates on asserting the responsibility of all involved to look at how they may most effectively contribute to bringing about improvements in human rights.

In international campaigning, sanctions and boycotts had their highest profile and most sustained focus in the international campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. In this case the demands for sanctions and boycotts originated from and were pursued by South African organizations and political movements that were seen as representative of South African opinion.

In some circumstances, particularly where there is a public momentum, not supporting calls for sanctions can be seen as opposing sanctions and care often needs to be taken to avoid giving this impression.

AI does oppose the transfer of military, security and police training and materials that can reasonably be assumed to contribute to human rights violations. AI also opposes the trade in organs of executed persons.

The Fax Revolution

Fax machines in Malawi played such an important role in the political change that led to the release of many long-serving prisoners of conscience and the end of one-party rule that the change was dubbed “The Fax Revolution”. To beat strict controls on freedom of expression and restrictions on access to information, news was sent into the country by fax and then copied and distributed within the country.


Around the world military, security and police (MSP) personnel are committing human rights violations. The MSP training, equipment, technology and personnel they receive from other countries (transfers) may facilitate these violations _ and the supplying country might be yours. Finding out about these MSP transfers, including the logistical and financial support such transfers require, and explaining how such transfers may contribute to the human rights violations in AI's mandate, can offer important campaigning opportunities for AI and help stop violations. This section looks at:

N    Introduction to MSP transfers / 40

N    Investigating MSP transfers / 42

N    Using the information / 45

N    Approaching companies about MSP transfers / 46

N    Transfers of MSP training and expertise / 47

N    The international dimension / 49

N    Measuring our impact on MSP transfers / 50

Left to right: Derek Evans, Deputy Secretary General of AI; Tony Lloyd, UK Minister of State responsible for arms transfers; and Dr Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Costa Rica, launching the International Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers in London,

9 June 1997

© Stefan Boness Introduction to MSP transfers

AI has been developing its work on military, security and police (MSP) transfers since 1983. MSP transfers include the trade or free provision by governments or companies of equipment, personnel, training or technology.

The purpose of AI's work on MSP transfers is to:

N    prevent transfers that can reasonably be assumed to contribute to human rights abuses;

N    identify international involvement which contributes to human rights abuses and strengthen pressure for international action to prevent such abuses;

N    apply pressure directly on those military, security or police forces responsible for committing human rights abuses.

Our overall aim is to achieve effective international monitoring, regulation and control of MSP transfers. This will require the commitment of all governments and there is therefore a potential role for all AI Sections.

Investigating the current types and quantities of MSP transfers from your country is often a time-consuming and difficult task. AI Sections have the lead responsibility for collecting MSP transfer data from their own country, provided this is not against the law or a security risk. Research teams at the IS usually concentrate on information from target countries in which violations are occurring and may not receive much data about the country where you are based.

Before starting any action on MSP transfers, you must be clear on three issues.

N    Clarify the MSP personnel committing abuses and their links to your country

    M    To decide which MSP transfers might present the best strategic opportunities for campaigning against human rights abuses, AI needs reliable information on the human rights abusers in question and on the types of foreign MSP equipment, technology, training and personnel that are used in the country. Much of this information may already be available at the IS or be easily obtained by a research team.

    M    To gauge the quality of the information we have about MSP perpetrators, use the questions outlined in Chapter 10 (Outreach/Military and Law Enforcement Officers). These questions may help establish which MSP personnel are committing human rights violations, who within the country can influence those responsible, and whether the military, security or police are involved in economic activity. Find out whether there have been any direct or indirect links in the past between such personnel and the government, army, police or companies in your country.

N    Clarify current MSP transfers which may contribute to human rights violations

    M    Investigating MSP transfers is difficult because relevant information is often clouded in official state secrecy, obscured by export or technical classifications, denied by companies on the basis of "commercial confidentiality" or even falsified by people wishing to discredit someone else. However, with patience and attention to detail, it is often possible to piece together important data on MSP transfers. Apart from letter-writing, one effective method is to get members of parliament, journalists or others to ask detailed questions about MSP transfers. Another effective method is to keep asking questions until you have some answers.

    M    If you can establish reliable information about MSP transfers sent from your country, immediately alert the relevant IS research team and your Section's country or RAN coordinator. Check with them and in AI publications to see if any of these MSP transfers are likely to contribute to human rights violations within AI's mandate.

N    Clarify legislation and regulations on MSP transfers     M    Do not start any public action on MSP transfers without first knowing about your country's basic laws and regulations on MSP transfers. This can be a complex subject and you may find another non-governmental organization (NGO) or lawyer who can help you.

At a minimum, grasp the essentials before undertaking any public action. Most countries have laws and regulations concerning MSP transfers, especially where these may be deemed to be lethal. Some laws cover the domestic possession and sale of such equipment as well as transfers abroad. Others deal with foreign trade. There are laws and regulations covering private business as well as government transfers, but these may have important loopholes which arms dealers can exploit.

Lists of military and security products which are prohibited or considered very sensitive or just subject to normal controls can be checked, but these sometimes change, so the lists may be included as an annex to the main law.

Other laws may deal with the conduct and training of MSP personnel in the home country, and these laws may affect foreign training by the home country's MSP personnel. Try to map out all the laws and regulations that govern the full range of MSP transfers, concentrating on the types of transfer that may contribute to human rights violations. Make note of which government ministers or officials can authorize or review such transfers, and who reports on them.

    M    It is vital to find out if any MSP laws and regulations contain mechanisms included for human rights protection.

The following questions may help you:


g     Is there a law requiring the sending government to first establish that a proposed MSP transfer will not contribute to human rights violations in the receiving country?

g     Does the legislation require parliamentary oversight of this provision?

g     Is there a system of formal review or independent scrutiny?

g     Are monitoring mechanisms in place to allow officials to check whether the end-use of MSP transfers may result in human rights violations?

g     Are there legal guarantees in the end-user certificates so that if any MSP transfer is misused for human rights violations, further transfers of the same type of equipment will be stopped along with related spare parts, servicing and training?

g     Are there enough officials, for example in customs and excise and border control, to implement the law properly?

All these questions need to be explored in written exchanges with the government authorities until satisfactory answers are provided.

Investigating MSP


Despite official secrecy and other barriers, there are many ways of finding out about MSP transfers. The sources of information include:

N    Government information provided to the public (ministerial speeches, annual reports to the UN and other intergovernmental organizations, freedom of information searches, patents); information given to members of parliament; and information "leaked" to journalists and NGOs by officials. The advantage of this information is that it is "official". Even if it is found to be wrong, the onus is on the government to correct it. The disadvantage is that the information may be misleading and couched in obscure categories, with vital data missing.

N    Company product and services information listed in major directories and periodicals. These include Janes Defence Weekly, Janes International Defence Review, the weekly Defence News, Law Enforcement Product News, Police and Security News. Also useful are company advertisements, brochures and other promotional literature and events, especially exhibitions.

N    Company address and ownership details listed in telephone and trade directories, company registers (for example, Kompass Directories on different countries, Thomas Register, Who Owns Whom ), microfiche sources (company registrar offices), CD Rom (Medline, Financial Times annual reports service, Kompass, Thomas Register), computer on-line databases (Datastar, Dialog-Piers, STN International, Echo, Echo, Corporate Critic) and sites on the World Wide Web (Multinational Monitor, Namebase, Guardian Online and a growing number of other newspaper services). The danger here is having too much irrelevant information.

N    Human rights information from AI and other reputable human rights and humanitarian organizations.

N    Field reports from direct witnesses willing to speak out, such as religious figures, journalists, lawyers, medical personnel, other NGOs, business people, trade unionists, transport and other local officials, or even sometimes local MSP officials or visiting MSP personnel.

N    Specialist arms institutes and databases, which publish regular reports and sometimes can answer particular queries. A few specializing in MSP transfer information are listed in Appendix II. These can be invaluable, but many such organizations tend not to relate their information to human rights violations, and tend to collect most of their transfer data on large weapons systems. They may also have difficulty in dealing with many outside requests.

Collating and analysing the information

To start with, prioritize certain countries, types of equipment and types of companies and decide a limited period which you want to cover. Whether you use old fashioned index cards, document files and filing cabinets, or computer database software, there is no escaping the need for rigorous categorization, dating and cross-referencing, as well as updating as best you can. Always err on the side of caution when drawing conclusions from such data. Double check the consistency of the evidence and the credibility of the sources. Always take extreme care when analysing the information.

Each AI Section's MSP group or co-group should try to pool its MSP transfer data so that collation and cross-checking are easier. Each Section should also share what it considers to be the most significant data with the MSP coordinator and the relevant country researchers in the IS so that important leads can be followed up by the IS.

Types of MSP transfers

Many human rights violations involve the use of small arms, paramilitary equipment and security technologies. Yet the international transfer of such equipment is usually not disclosed by governments even though the proliferation of such weapons can fuel armed conflicts and internal disturbances resulting in mass human rights violations. It is therefore vital that AI plays a leading role in trying to secure international and national controls on such equipment.

Most people think of guns and ammunition when the term "arms" is used. And they think of killings or injuries as the main tragic consequence. But in AI's experience, there are several other types of weapon that are commonly used in human rights violations and in breaches of humanitarian law. There are also many violations apart from killings carried out with such weapons, including torture and other ill-treatment, and arbitrary arrests. The following categories might prove helpful:

N    Security or "crime control" equipment

    M     torture and death penalty equipment (AI calls for a complete ban of such equipment)

    M    electro-shock weapons (guns, batons, shields and belts)

    M    "non-lethal" weapons and riot control equipment (tear-gas, plastic and rubber bullets, etc.)

N    Small arms or light weapons

    M    automatic handguns and pistols

    M    machine-guns and sub-machine-guns

    M    sniper rifles, automatic rifles and semi-automatic rifles

    M    hand grenades

    M    landmines, especially anti-personnel mines

    M    unusual or exploding ammunition

    M    mortars, bazookas, and shoulder-fired/hand-held rockets and missiles

N    Larger arms and logistical military equipment

    M    armoured vehicles, especially armoured patrol cars and armoured personnel carriers

    M    military helicopters and other military transport and ground attack aircraft

    M    artillery systems, tanks, rocket launch vehicles

    M    military communications equipment, and surveillance equipment

These weapons also depend upon the transfer of expertise, knowledge and skill in the use of such equipment. Such MSP training can therefore also help facilitate human rights violations, as can the financial flows and the provision of transport for such transfers. AI has found that medical or other "research" can aid the commission of torture or carrying out the death penalty.

It is therefore important to try to focus on these types of MSP transfers and the logistical support used for them, and not to gather information about every type of MSP transfer.

Using the information

If you have credible evidence of a clear link between MSP transfers from your country and such transfers being used for human rights abuses, you should refer this to your Section's MSP coordinator and to the relevant board member in your Section. They will ask the IS whether to call for a cessation of such MSP transfers. The IS will check the evidence and see how this fits into AI's existing strategy on that country before reaching a decision on whether and how best such a call for cessation can be made. It is likely that a call for cessation will also be relevant to other AI Sections in potential supplying countries, so international coordination will be required.

If the IS has sufficient evidence to call for a cessation of MSP transfers to a particular country, a request for such a call may then be referred by the IS to a Section for consideration by its MSP coordinator and the Section's board. If AI has no Section in that country, the IS will take the decision. Once calls for cessation have been included in a campaigning strategy on a particular country, these can be carried out using any or all of AI's campaigning techniques as appropriate.

If a Section or the IS has evidence which is not conclusive but is strong enough to suspect that particular MSP transfers might contribute to human rights violations in AI's mandate, then warning signals should be issued to the sending government and the sending company, and possibly to the general public. These warnings should also take the form of searching questions. Such questions should focus on how the intended MSP transfers will be used and aim to make those responsible for sending the transfers answerable for their possible misuse. Sometimes these questions will not be public (for instance, in letters to the government and the company). But if the general public and parliament of the sending country need to be alerted to a very real danger that MSP transfers will be used to facilitate violations, then the questions need to be publicized. This will increase international pressure on the receiving government.

Searching questions can be raised through media releases, public statements or external reports. Sympathetic journalists, members of parliament and NGOs can also be asked to raise the questions.

Approaching companies about MSP transfers

Most representations of AI concerns about MSP transfers are made to government authorities, but there are times when AI Sections need to make approaches to companies as well. In these instances, the AI guidelines on company approaches should be followed and the Section's co-group on company approaches should be informed in advance.

Particular care needs to be taken when you identify a company as having been involved in MSP transfers which contribute to human rights violations. If you make unsubstantiated allegations, the company may suffer loss of earnings and take legal action against you. Therefore, do not accuse companies unless there is a particular need to do so in order to protect human rights and you are absolutely sure of your evidence.

It may be wiser to pose tough searching questions to the company, or to keep looking for evidence.

If you do make an approach to a company, then follow these steps:

N    Read the AI policy guidelines on company approaches and discuss your approach with the relevant coordinator in your Section.

N    Put your concerns (preferably as questions) about MSP transfers in writing to the manager, stating clearly that you are an AI member and outlining AI's policy on impartiality and independence, as well as AI's policy on MSP transfers and MEC relations. Always ask about the company's code of practice regarding human rights.

N    Do not assume that because a company sends MSP transfers to a particular country where human rights abuses are common that this is conclusive proof that particular transfers are actually being used for human rights abuses. Rather, use this as an opportunity to warn of the danger of sending such transfers, and ask for specific information about the contracts, safeguards, interlinked companies, training, maintenance, etc.

N    Consult your MSP coordinator and co-group about your information before proceeding with any action. Check with the IS research team about the human rights information you wish to cite. Always link any such action to approaches to your government. The advice of a lawyer may also be wise.

N    Do not have "off the record" exchanges or ask for money or sponsorship from the company.

N    Keep records of all exchanges with the company and other relevant data on the company.

Searching questions Where AI has some evidence to suspect that MSP transfers may contribute to human rights violations, the first action is to ask searching questions to elicit more information and to warn of the danger of permitting MSP transfers to a particular recipient. Always design questions to:

    M    elicit further information about how the MSP transfers will be used;

    M    seek assurances as to whether the sending government or company is meeting its obligations to ensure that such transfers cannot reasonably be assumed to be contributing to human rights violations.

These warning-type questions can be made public, and this is often the first step to mobilizing public pressure around AI's concerns, as well as provoking media interest.

Such questioning is normally part of a series of exchanges with the authorities and the company, and so the path of questioning needs to be thought about in advance. Examples of such interconnected questions to government officials responsible for a bilateral MSP aid program are as follows:


g    How much and what kind of military, police and security aid and training does your government provide to the government forces of the country where human rights violations are committed?

g     Is the aid and training directed at particular parts of the military or police?

g     Does the aid and trade include a human rights component? Does it include security equipment and training?

g     Are human rights conditions placed on this military or police aid?

g     How is the human rights impact evaluated?

g     What is the level and nature of bilateral contact and exchanges between military and police in both countries? Are there joint exercises, or exchanges at military and police staff colleges?

g     Is there joint participation in international peace-keeping missions, seminars or conferences?

Transfers of MSP

training and expertise

Transfers of skills, knowledge and expertise to foreign MSP personnel are a growing reality and can be crucial in contributing to further human rights abuses or in helping prevent such abuses. AI can campaign to ensure that human rights are an integral part of any training provided to, or conducted with, foreign military, security and police forces.

The increased use of private companies in security and even military roles, as well as the increase in multi-national forces in international peace-keeping missions, has brought a new dimension to this issue.

The basis of AI's position on MSP training is simple: it should not contribute to serious human rights violations. We must always point out that the training of military and law enforcement personnel should be the responsibility of the governmental authorities, and that human rights training cannot be meaningful or effective without the establishment of proper systems of accountability.

AI takes no part in the drafting of human rights training programs for MSP personnel from countries where human rights within AI's mandate are systematically and persistently violated. However, AI can try to help clarify how international human rights instruments should routinely be part of the training of all MSP personnel.

It can be difficult to judge how far particular MSP training is a necessary contributing factor in human rights violations. Governments of foreign military trainers have been fairly unwilling to disclose full details of the training and how it relates to human rights. For example, the US Government tried to promote its "expanded" International Military Education and Training (IMET) as "human rights friendly", and AI has begun a discussion with the government about this. However, the information received so far is not satisfactory. The same is true of the UK's MSP training programs for foreign personnel, which affect over a hundred other countries.

One way AI can make "reasonable assumptions" about the effect on human rights of any transfers of skills, knowledge and expertise to MSP personnel is to seek answers to the following types of questions:


g     Is there a serious pattern of human rights violations such that any MSP training may first require a program of legal reform in accordance with international standards, as well as the disbandment of certain types of security force units which are significantly responsible for committing violations?

g     Have any candidates selected for the military training been responsible for human rights violations and, if so, what action has been taken to make them accountable? (AI's position is that systems of MSP training and accountability have to go hand in hand.)

g     What human rights expertise do the trainers have?

What evidence is there that the trainers themselves are able to teach practical exercises based upon international human rights law and standards, and not just aspects of humanitarian law?


g     What is the human rights content of the MSP course curricula?

Does it include rigorous training exercises based upon international human rights standards? Are the same trainees being subject to other parallel courses and, if so, what is the human rights content of these courses?

g     Is the institutional environment where the MSP training takes place conducive to promoting human rights?

What other types of people and training courses take place there, what other materials are available to trainees, what are the extra-curricula activities and what is the overall institutional culture?

g     What procedures are in place to monitor the human rights impact of the MSP training, especially in relation to the conduct of the trainees once they put their training in practice?

Each of the above questions could be turned into a statement of principle should this be necessary. Once you have obtained answers to the questions, you will have to assess whether AI may oppose the training altogether, expose certain aspects of it, or simply encourage further monitoring of it with other NGOs. A basic consideration will be whether the training includes lethal weapons training and the use of force because such knowledge can easily be misused. A high standard of evidence that such training will not be misused for human rights violations will be required.

The international

dimension Governments which recognize the need for more effective control of MSP transfers state that where such transfers are stopped in order to protect human rights, it often provides an unfair market opportunity for commercial competitors. In other words, the governments themselves recognize the need for multilateral controls of MSP transfers and that bold unilateral actions may not prevent human rights violators obtaining MSP goods and services on the global market. AI activists involved in work on MSP transfers are thus increasingly making efforts to link demands for effective controls on MSP transfers at the national level to appeals for new initiatives by governments to establish international controls.

Most MSP actions now include reference to governments implementing their existing commitments to human rights protection in the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union (EU) and other intergovernmental organization (IGO) agreements, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other states, including the Russian Federation.

In the context of their lobbying work, AI Sections have also called on governments to give fuller and more precise descriptions of the arms transfers in the UN Register.

At the level of regional IGOs, some AI Sections in Western Europe began in 1995 to lobby home governments and their EU members of parliament to support the implementation of provisions contained in a "Code of Conduct" which was developed by several NGOs (including AI).

By 1996 this “EU Code” was endorsed by over 600 NGOs and many prominent individuals. AI also submitted a report on arms control and human rights to EU governments as part of the Maastricht Treaty review process. It included reference to the need for arms control in terms of human rights in submissions to the Asia Pacific Economic Summit and to the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

The most developed set of principles for the international control of conventional arms and paramilitary equipment and training was launched in May 1997 by Dr Oscar Arias and other Nobel Peace Laureates, including AI. It is hoped that other Nobel Peace Laureates will help build a worldwide campaign over the next few years to have the Code considered in the UN and by national governments as a basis for new laws. The principles embodied in the Code can easily be used by AI Sections and include considerable overlap with AI's mandate and with AI's policy on MSP transfers. Discussions have begun with some diplomats, government officials and other NGOs to support this initiative, as well as with other international bodies. The Code is being translated into different languages.

Measuring our impact on MSP transfers

It is not simple to measure the effectiveness of AI's MSP work. There are quantitative and qualitative as well as short- and longer-term considerations. With regard to the purposes set out at the beginning of this section, we can ask how any AI action may:

N    stop or remedy individual violations or abuses in receiving countries;

N    promote better conduct and preventive measures;

N    develop the capacity of AI and the human rights movement.

Our MSP work can obviously be focused at all three levels, but it is at the second level that the key results are measured. Any evaluation of our progress should be assessed primarily in terms of specific end-results defined to measure:

M    public opinion and awareness of the effects on human rights of MSP transfers;

M    new legislation, government policies or regulations affecting MSP transfers;

M    standards of human rights education and training for foreign MSP personnel.

It is also important to seek to measure how well we have used the lever of our work on MSP transfers to more broadly press for action on a human rights situation. It is more difficult to measure what direct impact MSP work has in the target country. Achieving concrete results in these areas clearly requires a long-term program of work on MSP transfers.

For AI to be effective, the right message must be delivered by the most appropriate messengers to the most powerful and influential targets. This requires the organization to develop a range of work on MSP transfers where such transfers relate to human rights within AI's mandate. The work requires a degree of specialization and international coordination to succeed, and is interlinked to the development of AI's home government and IGO lobbying, to its media work, and to its outreach to military, police, business and financial actors. Most governments will not agree to arms control unless other governments do so as well. It is important to link any action to our campaign for international controls.

Combating atrocities

In late 1996 in the east of former Zaire, the discovery of military procurement documents provided sickening evidence to confirm AI's 1995 report stating that in the midst of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, Rwandese armed forces responsible for mass killings were supplied weapons and ammunition _ through former Zaire _ from Albania and Israel, secretly flown in by traders from the UK and Nigeria. These traders contributed to the genocide, but to date none has faced prosecution. As a result of campaigning by AI and other NGOs, the UN established an International Commission of Inquiry which found that arms had been transferred to the perpetrators of the genocide via former Zaire.

Examples of AI action on MSP transfers

N    AI publicized that in 1996 Indonesian security forces used military vehicles against demonstrators. The USA banned exports of light weapons and armoured vehicles to Indonesia, but the German and UK governments readily offered new contracts to supply light tanks, armoured vehicles, water cannon and lethal combat training.

N     AI obtained US Government documents in November 1995 which showed that US weapons exported to Colombia to fight drug-trafficking actually went to Colombian army units responsible for deliberate and arbitrary killings of civilians and other grave human rights violations. Campaigning by AI and other NGOs led to such aid being suspended.

N    In 1997 AI published a report Arming the Torturers: Electro-Shock Torture and the Spread of Stun Technology, which achieved widespread worldwide media publicity. Sections raised AI's concerns about the use of electro-shock stun guns, batons, shields and belts for torture and ill-treatment with their governments and the responsibility of several supply companies. This helped focus international attention not only on the weapons, but also on particular cases of torture and ill-treatment, on the conduct of law enforcement personnel, and on the efforts of governments to provide human rights protection through proper export control of security equipment.

AI Spain identified government secrecy as the main obstacle to effective monitoring and control of MSP transfers.Together with Greenpeace, Médecins sans Frontières and the development NGO Indermon, they developed a highly successful campaign under the slogan “Killing Secrets”. In spite of initial opposition, in March 1997 the Spanish Congress of Deputies unanimously approved a motion on transparency and control of the arms trade.

Summary of AI's policy on MSP transfers

N    No position on arms embargoes or sanctions

AI neither supports nor opposes sanctions against governments which are guilty of human rights violations, and takes no position on punitive measures of any kind, such as sanctions or boycotts.

N    Opposition to a MSP transfer

AI may oppose MSP transfers (of equipment, personnel, training or technology), including proven financial or logistical support for such transfers, to governments and NGEs that can reasonably be assumed to contribute to human rights violations within AI's mandate.

N     Calls for cessation

A "call for a cessation" of an MSP transfer requires the mutual agreement of the IS and Section who can make this decision when one of the following three conditions can be verified:

M the sole practical use for the MSP transfer is to commit human rights violations within AI's mandate; M the transfer of the type/class of equipment has been shown in practice to contribute to such violations in the receiving country; or

M the transfers support those specific military, paramilitary or security units which are significantly responsible for such violations and which AI would press to be disbanded.

N    Searching questions

When the conditions necessary to call for a cessation cannot be verified, AI may ask "searching questions" of the supplier government and companies in their home countries about the use to which intended MSP transfers will be put by the receiving country. Such questions could draw attention to the danger of the MSP transfer being used in the receiving country for the violation of human rights within AI's mandate, but should contain no demand, explicit or implicit, that the transfer be stopped. Where appropriate, such actions could be publicized. These questions should be approved by the board or executive of the Section concerned after prior consultation with the IS.

N    MSP legislation: onus on the sender

All AI Sections should call for legislation and regulations which prohibit MSP transfers from taking place unless it can be reasonably demonstrated that such transfers will not contribute to human rights violations within AI's mandate. Such laws usually address issues broader than AI's human rights concerns.

Searching questions

Searching questions raised with the supplying government or company must always warn of the danger of sending the particular MSP transfers. They should also seek precautionary action by the authorities such as:

N    conducting a human rights impact study before any decision on MSP transfers is reached;

N    carrying out on-site monitoring of the use of MSP transfers;

N    ensuring that human rights monitors have access to the affected areas;

N    providing legal guarantees in all end-use certificates that any MSP transfers (not only equipment, but also spare parts, maintenance and training contracts and so on) will be immediately cancelled if they are misused for serious human rights violations.

Main principles to include in legislation on MSP

All legislation and regulations should prohibit MSP transfers from taking place unless it can be reasonably demonstrated that such transfers will not contribute to human rights violations within AI's mandate. Such laws usually address issues broader than AI's human rights concerns, but AI can support or oppose provisions in principle according to the following criteria:

N    human rights in the intended receiving country must be taken into consideration prior to any decision to approve an MSP transfer;

N    effective channels for receiving human rights information from NGOs are established;

N    reports are issued on the human rights record of governments and, where applicable, armed opposition groups in all receiving countries;

N    the sender should take responsibility for the use of MSP transfers in practice (including regular monitoring of end-user certificates);

N    prohibit the transfer of any MSP equipment, personnel, training or technology, as well as logistical and financial support, unless it can be reasonably demonstrated that such transfers will not contribute to human rights violations;

N    legal provisions are precise and concrete, avoiding ambiguities;

N    the legislature is notified of all information necessary to enable it to exercise proper control over the implementation of the law;

N    regular and comprehensive reports, including of small arms transfers, are made for inclusion in the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

A Chadian soldier stands outside a military camp in N'Djamena which is frequently used as a detention centre. Foreign governments, including those of China, France and the USA, have armed and trained the security forces of Chad.

© Reuters/Popperfoto

Questions to Shell

After human rights violations in Nigeria increased, AI Sections put searching questions to the Shell Group of companies, which has influence in the country. The questions included: "If Shell has been negotiating for the import of weaponry or non-lethal equipment for use by the Nigerian police, what precautions has Shell taken to ensure that such equipment is not used to violate human rights? Will Shell make public the rules of engagement it developed for police engaged in oilfield operations? Will Shell consider trying to help promote a range of practical measures such as improving training programs for Nigerian police, prison officers and military?"

Shell eventually responded positively and provided significant information on all these questions.

AI Sections in Europe and the USA publicly questioned the transfer of attack helicopters, fighter jets and artillery by the US Government to Israel following atrocities committed by the Israeli armed forces in Lebanon using such equipment during Operation Grapes of Wrath. Questions took the following form: "Were US weapons used in Operation Grapes of Wrath? If so, please identify them. Were US weapons used in incidents where civilians were killed or injured? Please identify these incidents and the weapons involved." Significantly, the US Government took the unusual step of refusing to reply to AI's questions.

Examples of those questioned

N    On Indonesia and East Timor, AI Sections fielded searching questions publicly in statements and open letters about the use of Spanish military transport aircraft, as well as UK and US jet fighters and military training. The questions sought information about access to human rights monitors in outlying areas of Indonesia and East Timor.

N    On Chad, searching questions were asked publicly in AI reports about the use by Chadian armed forces of US, French, Dutch and Chinese arms and military training.

N    On the USA, the US Section asked searching questions regarding the human rights impact of the annual US government military assistance program. These were published as part of an annual report by the Section. This report is sent to many officials involved in Congress and relevant departments of state, as well as to other NGOs.

Members of a Colombian army counter-insurgency unit. AI members in the USA have campaigned to prevent military aid being supplied to the Colombian forces without adequate controls.

© Ascodas

AI reports by the UK and USA Sections on military, security and police transfers MODERN WORLD


Information pours around the world instantly. News about human rights violations can reach an enormous audience in seconds. Human rights activists around the world can be linked by new technology. Understanding and using this fast-developing means of communication is vital to AI's work. This section looks at:

N    Electronic communications / 52

        The Internet / 52

N    Online research / 53

N    Campaigning and action / 54

N    Helping the movement work together / 55



Electronic communications (electronic mail, bulletin boards, the Internet, etc) can be extremely useful to AI's work. It is an area of work that is changing and developing rapidly _ as is the Internet itself. The examples of national and local work cited here are intended to be illustrative, not comprehensive.

Electronic communications can be used in a wide variety of ways:

N    Detailed research on countries, themes, corporations, IGO instruments, what other NGOs are doing, and even specific cases can be done through the Internet to help prepare for a campaign.

N    Putting campaign materials on the Internet can help to publicize the campaign, encourage activism, distribute materials to people who might otherwise not have access to them, and raise general human rights awareness.

N    Action appeals can be put on the Internet to generate a worldwide response and get people interested in joining AI.

N    Special fundraising appeals can be issued over the Internet.

N    Consultation networks and discussion groups can be set up inside and outside AI to generate and discuss ideas, provide feedback, and keep campaigners and activists in touch throughout the campaign.

Several countries already have committed volunteers, and in some cases entire groups, who can help you with this work. If you do not know who is available to help, contact the Information Technology Program at the IS, or scan the Internet for material posted by members in your country _ usually an e-mail address will be included.

The Internet

The Internet offers wonderful opportunities to campaigners. You can supply information to millions of people around the world in an attractive and interactive form. It is also relatively cheap to set up.

One of its many advantages is that distance is largely irrelevant. Connecting to a computer in your town is just as easy and costs the same as connecting to one on the other side of the world.

The main disadvantage of the Internet is that only some people have access to it in the wealthiest nations, and almost no one can use it in the poorest countries.

As with other campaigning materials, it is important to have a specific purpose and target audience in mind before embarking on an Internet campaign.

If you do set up a website, there are some useful tips to refer to.


c    Before you begin, look at as many other sites as possible. Make sure users can find the site easily.

c    Ensure that users can get around the site easily. Every page should include links leading to all the key parts of the site.

c    Keep making changes to the site.

The site should be in the web's primary language, English, as well as the local language.

c    Aim to provide everything electronically that you would otherwise make available to the public, such as leaflets, posters and press releases.

c    Consider who the information is primarily aimed at.

c    Do not put non-public information online.

c    Maintain a mailing list by asking users to leave an e-mail address if they want to volunteer, join AI, or be kept informed of changes to the website.

c    Make sure there is a way for users to reply with constructive criticism or praise.

c    Perhaps add a questionnaire to get an idea of who is visiting the site.

c    On-screen buttons and logos can be borrowed from AI's sites, but get permission from the webdeveloper first (see margin). c    Large graphics and excessive animation slow down the speed at which pages are received and can leave visitors frustrated.

c    Advertise your website on other websites and elsewhere.

Online research

There is a wealth of data on the Internet that is useful to AI's research. A few of the categories of information available are listed below.

N    UN and other IGO information. UN information is available via gopher at:


or the web:

<http://undcp.or.at/ unlinks.html>

Material from a range of other IGOs is also available, such as the Organization of American States, the International Labour Organisation, and so on; the UN web page contains links to a wide variety of pages by other international organizations.

Information published by Human Rights Watch, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and Physicians for Human Rights are all linked through the human rights gopher at:



Websites may also be maintained by legal libraries, university human rights programs, civil rights organizations and disaster relief organizations.

N    Public news sources range from Reuters and Agence France Presse news wires to local newspapers from all corners of the world. For sources of international news, try:


N    Informal discussion groups (usenet and similar conferences of the Association for Progressive Communicating) about human rights. The most popular are probably:




There are many others, including a wide range of country-specific discussion groups under the general rubric soc.culture.(countryname).

Quality can be quite variable, but a good country-specific discussion group can provide grassroots information not available through more traditional news media.

N    Mailing list/discussion groups (listservs) about a country are often more private and of higher quality than open discussion groups, but can be more difficult to find. If you cannot locate one, ask for information in the soc.culture newsgroup for that country.

N    Prisoner pages have also been established in a few cases. For example, see:



There are several sites which try to maintain nearly complete lists of the constantly expanding human rights material on the Internet. A good general “clearing house” site is the directory of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) at:


Campaigning and action

Publishing AI's information online can accomplish many purposes: raising general levels of awareness about human rights, both in general and as they apply to specific situations; providing detailed and accurate information to activists, other NGOs, governments and the media; publicizing AI's work on behalf of victims; and inviting others to take part in that work.

Means by which AI information is currently “published” online include: N    General information about AI is located at the international web site (www.amnesty.org) and on many other AI websites. This information includes the AI mandate, how AI addresses specific concerns such as the death penalty, and addresses of AI offices. Information about national and group activities is included on web pages established by AI Sections or local groups.

N    The news service is available on the main international website and by subscribing to the Amnesty-L list. To subscribe to the list, send an e-mail to:


Put the words “subscribe Amnesty-L” in the body of the message without the quote marks.

Many news releases are cross-posted to general usenet groups such as:

<soc.rights.human > and: <misc.activism.progressive>

Some AI volunteers also cross-post news releases to usenet groups that discuss specific countries or human rights issues.

N    Most country and campaign reports are available on the international web site at:


and on many other national and group sites.

N    AI information is sometimes posted in forums where it can be publicly debated, such as in the Peacenet conference ai.general or when information is cross-posted to Internet news groups. This “open forum” publication is useful and more dynamic than posting information in read-only forums; however, the poster must be willing to monitor the news group in order to answer any questions, challenges, or other issues that may arise from the posting.

N    Another growing area is the provision of action material via the Internet, and in some cases using the Internet itself as a tool for appeals or protests.

N    Urgent Actions (UAs) can be distributed to members of the UA network by e-mail by the national UA coordinator. Some UA coordinators who already maintain e-mail distribution services are:

M    for the USA, Scott Harrison:


M    for the UK, Ray Mitchell:


M    for Germany, Guido Gabriel:


M    for Canada, Marilyn McKim:


M    for Belgium (francophone), Xavier Zeebroeck:


If your national UA coordinator does not have access to e-mail, contact the AIUK UA coordinator who may be able to help. Full UAs are generally not distributed publicly because of concerns among the UA coordinators' network about balancing worldwide response. However, the information portion of a UA is often posted to public forums with a footer inviting readers to join the UA network.

UAs are available through the APC networks in English at: <ai.uan> and in German at: <ai.uan.de>

N    Worldwide Appeals, greeting card appeals and other special appeals are posted on the international website and several national, group and volunteer sites inviting the general public to respond. In some cases, electronic response forms are also provided.

N    The American Freedom Writer appeals are distributed by e-mail to the Freedom Writer network.

N    Web pages about a specific prisoner or other cases have been established by some local groups, with requests to write on behalf of the prisoner, copies of letters received from the prisoner or his/her family, and other information. These individual human stories can be very effective in illustrating how AI works and encouraging non-members to become active. For example, see the page on an Argentine prisoner maintained by Mike Katz-Lacabe of Group 64 at:



The potential for using the Internet to build the human and financial resources available for AI's human rights work is just beginning to develop. Areas that need to be worked on further include: how to register as a new member through the Internet; how to buy AI reports and merchandise; and how to donate funds to AI. A useful resource on using the Internet for fundraising is maintained by Howard Lake of the UK Section at:


A few Sections have put membership application forms on the Internet, which is an extremely convenient way for new members to join, although people should not be asked to send credit card details over the Internet without adequate security.

Helping the movement work together

There are many ways of using electronic communications to keep in touch internally, to foster consultation, information sharing, coordinated action and international solidarity. Below are just a few of the things being tried by various national and local bodies.

N    Several Sections (in the USA and Canada, for example) have linked their board members and other activist-leaders by e-mail in order to facilitate quick consultation and in-depth discussion without constant meetings.

N    Several Sections have opened private conference or bulletin boards for AI members in their country using private bulletin board software (in francophone Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands and Argentina, for example) or by establishing private conferences through a public service provider, such as the <ai.ideas> conference on Peacenet, or, for more specific concerns, <ai.computer> and <ai.policy>

These bulletin boards may include: information on events; cross-postings of AI reports and AI internal information; and AI action forms. They provide a convenient and cheap way of making information and consultation available to members. Please remember that pre-embargo press material and information about strategies on forthcoming campaigns are sensitive and should not be published to the entire membership.

N    There are a number of conferences, “listservs” and other electronic distribution networks open to AI members with specific interests. Many conferences have a “conf-to-mail” facility so that people who have only e-mail access can participate. A small sample includes:

M    “Amnestyd” is an internal e-mail discussion group for sharing ideas and questions among members. For information, send an e-mail to:


If you wish to join, please give your name and indicate your AI affiliation in the body of your message.

M    “ITGen” is a manually maintained discussion group for general issues about information technology. A similar group, “Ticorreo”, operates in Spanish. To join, send an e-mail to <itgen@amnesty.org>

putting the words “subscribe ai-www” in the body of the message without the quote marks.

M    “AI-Fund” is a manually maintained discussion group for fundraisers. To join, send an e-mail to Howard Lake at the UK Section:

<hlake @ ai-uk.gn.apc.org>

A similar group, “redrec”, operates in Spanish. To join, send an e-mail to David Coe at the UK Section:

<dcoe @ ai-uk.gn.apc.org>

M    AIUSA maintains a number of theme networks. The Legal Support Network:


The Conscientious Objectors Support Network:


The Educators Network:


The Government Action Network:


M    Several countries have national computer volunteer groups that will provide training on how to use e-mail and public networks. There are active national computer groups in the USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada and several other countries.

M    All staff at the IS are available by

e-mail. If you do not have a specific contact but need information from the IS, you can send an e-mail to the general mailbox at:


The first line in the main body of the message should be general information, for example ***Attention: Africa Research***

or ***Please deliver to the human rights education team***.

Be sure to include your name and e-mail address in the body of the message, as well as contact information for other ways of reaching you (postal address, fax number, etc). The workload at the IS is very heavy; please do not send an e-mail there if your query can be handled by your national office.

N    Other ways in which electronic communication could be used are: to link members in a country linking project; to plan international campaigns; or to support members of a particular membership network (such as a lawyers' network or a medical action network). AI's webdevelopers

Visit AI's developer's resource site :

<http://www.amnesty.org/ webdev>

Send an e-mail to:



for username and password.

To join AI's webdeveloper's discussion list, send an e-mail to:


Put the words “subscribe ai-www” in the body of the message without the quote marks.

Campaigning on the Internet: escaping censorship

The exchange of information on the Internet is not governed by national or international laws, and most governments find it almost impossible to police Internet activities. The size of the Internet makes it virtually impossible to enforce censorship. The extract below from the International Herald Tribune illustrates the possible implications of the use of the Internet for human rights education and campaigning in countries where human rights information is restricted.

Award-winning website

If you want inspiration, visit AI's award-winning refugee campaign web site at:


Campaign organizer at the IS, Beate Kubitiz, explained: “It's the first time we've had a whole website dedicated to a campaign. It goes further than just publishing existing information like press releases and leaflets. The site provides ways that can directly help the campaign, for example you can download posters or add your name to an electronic petition.”

International outrage, concern and solidarity following the massacre in Beijing in 1989 was able to reach into China as never before because of the rapid growth in the number of fax machines, particularly in the Chinese business community.

A CD-ROM produced by AIUSA entitled Amnesty Interactive.

If you maintain an AI website, or are planning to set one up, you will need a copy of AI's Electronic Publishing Guidelines, which will give advice on what to publish, and what not to publish, on the Internet.

Amnesty International Campaign Manual