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Amnesty International Campaign Manual



Campaigning in AI is always part of a coordinated global effort. The information and strategies produced at the international level of AI are the basis of national campaigning strategies and action. This chapter deals with the relationship between these two levels. It also looks at the internal context within AI of campaigning and the structures and organizational health of AI.


International action planning / 58

    Action forms / 58

    Deciding actions / 58

Campaigning on a national level / 59

    The campaign coordinator / 59

    Information / 59

    What level of action? / 61

    Integrating or upgrading actions / 61

    Section-initiated actions / 62

    Adapting IS strategies and materials / 62

    Supporting action from the membership / 63

Theme campaigning / 66

    Human rights violations / 66

    Identity / 66

    Events / 66

    How theme campaigns work / 68

Campaigning and organizational health / 68

    Context of campaigning / 68

    Structure and organization /68

    Expanding capacity and developing skills / 70

    Continuity / 71

    Internal objectives / 72

“If you cry 'Forward!' you must without fail make a plan in what direction to go. Don't you see that if, without doing so, you call out the word to both a monk and a revolutionary, they will go in directions precisely opposite?”

Chekhov International action planning

To help maintain AI's reputation for impartiality and independence, the organization has developed an Action Planning Process, which aims to achieve balance of action across geographical regions and themes. This process, which is guided by AI's research and analysis, also ensures that there is campaigning not just on countries or issues that feature in media headlines or excite widespread interest in our society, but also on those which are “forgotten” or “difficult”.

Action forms

AI has developed a number of standard ways of generating different levels of action from its membership. These are known internally as action forms. Action forms are continually adapted as campaigning needs change and AI evaluates its methods. Standardized action forms are important to:

N allow clear choices to be made by AI about the most effective action to be directed towards cases, countries or issues over time;

N allow advance action planning by all parts of AI;

N provide clarity about expectations for levels of campaigning activity.

Standardized action forms are not intended to stifle creativity or result in standardized campaigning _ AI is committed to creative and strategic campaigning at all levels of the membership. International action forms are standardized to make expectations and advance planning readily understandable and communicable between AI structures.

Section campaigners are encouraged to adapt actions to make them more effective. This involves analysing the capacity of your Section and society to influence different human rights situations. This may mean prioritizing particular international objectives or upgrading levels of action on some countries. It may mean not participating in some actions or participating only in parts of them. Advice on adapting IS strategies, actions and materials is given later in this chapter.

Specific details about current action forms are outlined in AI's Menu of Actions (AI Index: ORG 32/01/96). This provides:

N a brief explanation of all the action forms currently used by AI;

N expectations about the levels of activity that Sections and other AI structures will generate in relation to the different action forms;

N standards regarding IS production of internal circulars and external materials.

Deciding actions

Most country actions initiated by the International Secretariat (IS) come from the process of reviewing a country strategy (in which Sections participate) and the rolling program of strategy meetings which occur on each country. Needs for long-term campaigning action are assessed and planned. Changes to longer term strategy may be necessary because of an unforeseen change in a country situation.

There are agreed criteria for deciding when it is appropriate to implement full-scale country campaigns. Sections are involved in developing the strategy of these campaigns.

Sections are expected to take part in major country and theme campaigns at some level. They are also expected to take the information on planned actions and assess which of them should be a priority for their Section on the basis of strategic opportunities and principles outlined in the guidelines on Section specialization.

Campaigning on a national level

The campaign coordinator

The primary focus of AI's campaign coordinators is to develop the effectiveness and capacity of AI's members, of the wider society and of the government to protect specific human rights around the world. A campaign coordinator is at the centre of AI campaigning in his or her country. S/he is also central to communication with the international movement and plays a key role in planning, implementing and evaluating a campaign.

Although specific functions will vary, most campaign coordinators will have the following responsibilities:

N developing the strategic campaigning capacity in AI's membership by encouraging local and specialist AI groups and other membership structures to think about how they can best contribute to international and Section campaigning objectives and by providing training in campaigning techniques, etc;

N organizing initial consultations to discuss and plan action calendars and


N ensuring that all relevant people in the Section/structure (media, co-group, lobbyist, fundraiser, outreach coordinator, etc.) are involved from the earliest stages of discussion and kept informed throughout the planning and implementation of major campaigns;

N producing national campaign strategies, in cooperation with all relevant members of the Section, which outline:

    Mhow national campaigns will contribute to the achievement of the international objectives of the campaign;

    Mnational objectives for lobbying, outreach, publicity, etc;

    Many “internal” objectives of campaigns to help improve the Section's work, such as recruiting members, strengthening contacts with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), fundraising, etc;

    Mthe suggested involvement and activities of different parts of the membership structure in relation to campaigns, and the materials and support that they will need;

N informing the Campaigning and Crisis Response Program (CCR) at the IS (or, in the case of non-Section structures, the IS Regional Development Team) of your Section's plans and progress;

N producing campaign materials (depending on resources), giving advice and generally supporting action from the membership;

N coordinating the involvement of the Section and various membership structures in campaigns;

N coordinating and monitoring throughout campaigns, being in regular contact and providing feedback to the IS and to groups/individuals working on campaigns in your country;

N evaluating campaigns to see whether and how the national objectives were achieved, and contributing to the international evaluation.


AI relies on information. In practice, this means that an enormous amount of information from the IS arrives by post, fax or e-mail. It also means that campaigners must keep themselves informed of international current affairs and domestic political, social and economic developments as these form the context for the Section's campaigning.

The most important sources of IS-originated information for the campaign coordinator are (at present):

N the Action Planning Bulletin, which is the basic action planning tool for all Sections, issued in April and November;

N the weekly campaign coordinator's fax (in English, French and Spanish) and mailing, which provides updates on action planning, warning of unscheduled actions, advance copies of campaigning circulars, requests for feedback, etc;

N the News Service, which provides advance warning of media initiatives and AI's responses to human rights developments worldwide (these go directly to Section press officers); N UAs, which provide the latest information on particular human rights violations that should be acted on, as well as the most recent background summaries of AI's concerns on any country (they are sent almost daily to UA coordinators and are included in the Weekly Mailing);

N the Weekly Mailing to Sections, which contains full country reports, policy and organizational developments, financial statements, etc, and has a contents sheet so that the most relevant can be easily selected.

There are also different campaigning strategies and circulars. There may be separate mailings to intergovernmental organization (IGO), death penalty and outreach coordinators, although copies of these circulars are often in the mailing to the campaign coordinator.


To avoid drowning in a sea of paper and being overwhelmed by the many demands, you may find it helpful to develop a system for prioritizing mail and managing your time.

c Be realistic about how long things take to do. Keep a record of how much time you spend on tasks in a typical day or week so that you can plan your time realistically.

c Make sure that you allow time for tasks that are important in the long term, but which may suffer when urgent tasks arise. For example, filing is important, but is rarely urgent. However, if you do not allow time for it, your other work may suffer when you cannot find the papers you need.

c Some people have found it useful to divide their work into categories, such as “Urgent and Important”, “Important but not Urgent”, “Urgent but Not Important”, “Not Urgent and Not Important”, or alternatively, “Must Do”, “Should Do”, “Would like to do if there is time”. This enables you to prioritize your work. It also means that you can set aside a certain amount of time each day or week to do the “Important but Not Urgent” or “Should Do” tasks.

c Write daily or weekly task lists in the morning or the night before, remembering to keep to your priorities. Alternatively, set a “task for the day” and do it. This is a useful way of forcing yourself to decide your priorities and will give you a sense of achievement when you do what you set out to do.

c Fix deadlines for tasks. Try to be realistic about how long things will take but also bear in mind that tasks tend to expand to fill the time you give them so try to stick to your deadline once you have set it.

c Try to set aside periods of time that are free from interruptions: ask others to take your telephone calls (and do the same for them sometimes), have meeting-free periods, etc.

c Do one thing at a time. If you remain focused, you will get things done quicker.

c Do not try to be a perfectionist when it does not really matter. Try to do some things “well enough”.

c Try to deal with pieces of paper only once. Every time you start to look at something, it will take you time to focus on what needs doing. The more times you do this, the more time you are wasting on refocusing your attention on the issue concerned.

c Plan your work, especially large tasks. Time spent preparing what needs to be done and when will save you time in the long run.

c Try not to postpone important matters that are unpleasant. They can preoccupy your mind and block your creativity.

c Learn to say “NO”!

What level of action?

Part of the campaign coordinator's role is to filter information received from the IS and adapt it to local circumstances. Pressure of time may simply mean that this involves translating or cutting texts into a more digestible size before distributing them within the Section or externally.

Wherever possible, however, the process should mean deciding how your Section's membership, government and society can make the best contribution to AI's international campaigning objectives.

The IS should provide a brief explanation of why participation from your society is of particular importance. This may also suggest which sectors or individuals may be of particular importance for the action. This advice is one of the starting points for determining whether your Section takes part and your level of participation. Other important factors are the capacity of your structure and the priorities it has set for growth and development (see below).

Integrating or upgrading actions

The levels of action suggested by the IS are in general for guidance only. It is therefore possible, and sometimes advisable, to upgrade or downgrade actions, to integrate actions, or to initiate your own actions.

Sections may upgrade an action if they see that there is the potential in their country to give it a higher profile, or to make a greater impact than was suggested internationally, or to balance its campaigning program.

It is often possible to link or integrate actions to suit a Section's priorities, resources and working style or to use fully the opportunities that exist nationally.


c Find out if any AI groups are working on Action Files on the countries or issues in question. Can these files be used to help illustrate the campaign and boost the action on these cases?

c Can UAs on the country or issue be used during a campaign as an ongoing focus of action by supplying them to the media or constructing special actions such as vigils or embassy visits?

c Can UAs help the work of local or specialist AI groups working on Action Files or other actions by providing fresh opportunities to highlight related issues?

c Can IS news releases be adapted to highlight issues of particular concern to AI, such as impunity?

c Can particular campaigns be used to strengthen and expand specialist groups or Regional Action Networks (RANs)?

c Give the demands for action in IS news and campaign media releases a national focus. Use a local spokesperson and a quote from them in the release. Direct the campaign demands specifically towards your government. What would you like them to do? Provide details of what the campaign aims to do and what it will involve.

c Make leaflets and campaigning materials interesting to your public and audience. International leaflets have by their nature to be general and you are best placed to make them connect effectively with people in your country.

c Give a national/local focus to actions. Provide the addresses of relevant embassies and consulates. Suggest that people write to newspapers or government officials in your country as appropriate.

c Make use of your national culture in your campaigning. Emphasize its similarities with international human rights values _ its respect for fairness, sticking up for those who are vulnerable, respect for life, compassion, etc.

c Are there cultural or historical factors that could help people relate to human rights violations in other countries? Has your society suffered from political repression in the past? Is there significant interest in the music and culture of the society of the country you are campaigning on?

Section-initiated actions

Some Sections initiate their own actions from time to time to take advantage of a particular situation in their country, such as heightened media interest in a country or issue, or to link in with the Section's priorities, such as fundraising. In such cases, it is important to discuss the plan with the IS to ensure that the action fits in with the internationally agreed strategy on a country or theme and to agree the required level of IS input.

Adapting IS strategies and materials

The information sent by the IS for any campaigning action is supposed to meet the average needs of every Section. Most Sections will want to adapt it to make it more appropriate to their own campaigning environment.

For example, the IS will produce an international strategy for a campaign. It is then up to the Section to devise a national strategy and set down measurable aims (see Chapter 1). A campaign will be most successful if it is based on an analysis of the potential of different sectors in your society and of your government to stop human rights violations in the target country.

Similarly, campaigning circulars and leaflets should be adapted to include appropriate recommendations specific to your country and to make the issues interesting to your audiences. Wherever possible, campaigning materials produced at the national level for the membership should seek to develop their strategic and campaigning skills.

There are usually a variety of ready-made or easily adaptable materials for campaigns, including photograph displays, videos, leaflets, etc. The IS also often produces more basic material, such as photographs and quotes, which Sections may choose to use in displays, leaflets or magazine articles.

In some cases it may be possible for Sections to link together with other Sections to share resources for designs and materials in a common language.

The following questions may help you when deciding how to adapt IS strategies and materials.


g    What do you want to achieve?

For instance, what parts of the government do you want to take what action?

g    What do you want groups or individual members to do?

For instance, do you want them to visit their local members of parliament?

g    What materials do you need to provide to enable them to do it?

Supporting action from the membership

N Groups

For most major campaigns a campaign kit can be the best way to supply AI local or specialist groups with all the advice and material they need to take action. Giving groups enough notice is important: it will encourage participation and enable these groups to plan properly for maximum effect.

If time allows, send out an initial preparatory campaign kit to introduce the campaign objectives and strategy and to provide questions that may help to focus group discussions on the development of their strategy.

One of the advantages of AI groups for Section campaigning work is that they can plan a range of activities and mobilize action from others in their community. This means that the advice and materials supplied give them the power to do what individuals alone could not.

N Individual members

Servicing individual members and getting action from them can be more problematic. Sending them all campaigning materials can become very expensive. Groups tend to hold individual members accountable for action _ formally and informally. It is much more difficult to know that a member will act on the material received. In many Sections even hard-hitting direct mail appeals with a simple action request of returning a coupon with money achieve, on average, only a 10 per cent response rate. Nevertheless, involving AI's individual membership in campaigning actions remains an important goal. It can enhance AI's campaigning effectiveness and build a wider commitment to AI.


Mobilizing individual members

c Include campaigning actions in newsletters for members and supporters.

Most AI structures produce a newsletter for supporters. This can include feature cases with points you could raise and people to write to. Include sets of campaign postcards stapled into the centre pages and pre-addressed so they only need a stamp and signature.

c Organize specialist letter-writing networks.

Invite members to join the UA network. Some Sections and other organizations have established networks of letter-writers ready to respond quickly to media coverage or political developments related to AI's work by writing letters to editors and local and national politicians. Be aware that establishing such structures can often mean an ongoing commitment of resources.

If possible, make these networks self-financing by encouraging their members to pay an extra fee or encouraging others to specifically fund the scheme.

c Include campaigning actions in fundraising appeals.

c Ask individual members to get others to join AI and take action to persuade organizations of which they are members to support AI's campaigns.

N Feedback

Feedback is often the forgotten part of a campaign coordinator's role. Feedback from Sections on participation in campaigns and campaigning is essential for planning and monitoring campaigning at the international level. For example, a strategy may not be working because certain parts of the membership are not taking action, rather than because it is a bad strategy. Without feedback, AI will not know and an effective way of stopping human rights violations may be abandoned.

Timely feedback also allows monitoring of campaigning impact and adjustments in strategy. For example, it is important for a campaign to know if some embassies agree to meet AI in one country as other Sections may be able to use this information in their approaches. If some particular government representatives have begun to respond to AI's representations from a particular country, this may be important for focusing future strategy.

Feedback can help to identify areas where some form of assistance, in training, materials, information or resources from the IS or elsewhere, may help overcome problems. It also enables resources and ideas to be shared and campaigning to be improved. Campaigners can face similar problems, overcome them differently and produce materials that have a much wider usage than simply in their own society. Without feedback these things can remain a “national” secret.

Theme campaigning

In AI's early days, the term “theme” referred to a type of human rights violation within AI's mandate. Theme campaigns against torture, the death penalty, “disappearances” and extrajudicial executions (political killings) were major events in the life of the movement.

Today the word “theme” has a broader meaning within AI. It can be:

N a category of human rights violation that AI opposes;

N a section of society at risk, such as women, refugees or trade unionists;

N an event or anniversary, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' 50th anniversary or the 1993 UN World Conference on Human Rights.

Human rights violations

When an individual's human rights are violated AI can respond on an individual basis. If the violations continue, especially if they appear to be endemic, AI responds by looking at the patterns of violations which emerge. These patterns will form the focus of AI's country strategy and may result in a major country campaign.

There are times, however, when the persistence of torture or other violations in many countries leads AI to conduct a worldwide campaign, focusing on that particular form of human rights violation.

Such campaigns can help to generate the momentum for global action on the particular violation. One aim is to establish and strengthen international standards and mechanisms. They can also help to build awareness and educate AI's membership on complex areas of AI's mandate. Moreover, they help to show that AI is universal in its approach _ taking up violations in countries across the regional and political spectrum. The campaign against the death penalty in 1989, for example, highlighted the USA and China, and built the momentum of governments ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The major categories of human rights violations that AI has campaigned against are:

    M Torture

    M Death Penalty

    M Political Killings

    M “Disappearances”


When one group or section of society is particularly targeted for human rights violations, either because of their identity or as part of a larger pattern of violations, it can be useful to focus on the identity of the group in order to draw attention to and mobilize a response against the attacks. Sometimes there might be specific preventive measures that AI will advocate. Sometimes focusing on a specific group can in itself have a preventive effect. On an emotional level, people often respond better to people than to issues. AI is frequently asked: “Who are the victims?”

An international overview may reveal that similar groups of people are targets of similar human rights violations around the world. When this happens, AI can illustrate and campaign on global problems that need global solutions.

The groups or sectors of society that AI has focused on have included:

    M Women

    M Indigenous people

    M Refugees

    M Children

    M Trade unionists

    M Human rights defenders

    M Conscientious objectors


Theme events are often anniversaries, although they may be conferences or sporting events that provide opportunities for AI's work. AI and other organizations, for example, campaigned around the death penalty at the time of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA.

The 1993 UN World Conference on Human Rights presented the opportunity to work for reform of the UN human rights system and to challenge the concerted efforts by some governments to use the conference to undermine the basis of AI's work. AI's campaigning led to the creation of the post of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The 1996 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing was also the focus of major campaigning by AI and other organizations.

How theme campaigns work

AI is continually campaigning on the themes identified above through its work on individual appeals, Action File work by individual groups and country actions and campaigns. It also focuses on these themes at different times of the year, such as International Women's Day on 8 March, International Children's Day, AI Week in October, and a Trade Unionists' Action on 1 May. Sections can decide whether or not, and how, to participate in these actions.

AI also organizes regular major theme campaigns involving the worldwide membership. These involve the production of campaigning materials that have a much longer shelf-life, for AI and for others campaigning on these issues, and are useful campaigning references. They include:

M Torture in the Eighties

M When the State Kills... The Death Penalty vs Human Rights

M Getting away with Murder _ political killings and “disappearances” in the 1990s

Strategies for these major campaigns are worked out in consultation with Sections, the IS and other NGOs. Section campaign coordinators are encouraged to adapt and develop their own strategies to complement internationally agreed objectives.

Campaigning and

organizational health

Context of campaigning

Campaigning and campaigns do not happen in a vacuum. They are affected by the context within which they take place. The local, national and international conditions affecting AI's campaigning can broadly be classified as “internal” (related to AI as an organization) and “external” (related to the world outside and the human rights issues on which AI campaigns). This section deals with the internal framework for campaigning.

The core internal, organizational factor affecting AI's campaigning is the mandate. This defines in broad terms what members, groups, Sections and the international organization as a whole campaign on. There are also organizational working rules (such as the work on own country rule); decision-making structures and processes (such as groupings and International Council Meetings); and international priorities (such as those decided at ICMs). All these provide a context at the international level for the activities carried out by AI Sections and groups all over the world and help to ensure the efficient functioning of the international movement.

At the national level, organizational factors are an important consideration for Section campaign coordinators. AI cannot end human rights violations in the short term. This means we must constantly build and regenerate our organizational capacity to sustain campaigning activities in the future. Campaign coordinators have a vital role in ensuring that structures and organizational procedures serve rather than hinder campaigning work, and that campaigning contributes to the maintenance, regeneration and effective functioning of the whole organization.

This section focuses on why campaign coordinators need to concern themselves with:

N organizational structures and processes in the Section

N building the capacity of the Section

N ensuring continuity within the Section

N internal organizational objectives for the Section.

Structure and organization

For campaigning to be effective, it needs to function within a stable, flexible and appropriate organization. For an AI structure to be strong and credible, it needs a dynamic and effective campaigning program. Maintaining an appropriate balance between campaigning activities and the organizational needs of a mass movement is a constant challenge for AI.

There is no one organizational structure that suits all countries or situations. Different options have been explored by AI Sections over the years.

Your Section may need only one or two of these structures, or there may be others that would suit your Section's needs better. The golden rule is that a structure must meet an identified need and be appropriate for its intended purpose. In AI, this means that structures must be responsive to the needs of the campaigning that they exist to support, and appropriate in terms of the resources and overall priorities of the Section. Only your Section can decide the best organizational structure for your needs. When taking such decisions, the following issues are worth considering.

N Integration

How will you ensure that the various functions within your Section _ media, fundraising, campaigning, membership development _ are integrated? What methods of organizing will improve integration of these functions? How will you ensure that members, local groups, specialist groups, and so on are appropriately involved in the formulation of national campaigning strategy? How do you encourage local and specialist groups to develop strategies that would complement the national strategy?

N Balancing campaigning and organizational resources

Campaigning activities without adequate organizational attention and resources may become chaotic, disjointed and ineffective. Likewise, formal campaigning structures absorb resources, so you need to ensure that the structures are effective in terms of campaigning end results, and do not become a bureaucratic or financial burden.

N Communication

Clear and timely communication is essential to effective campaigning. National campaigning strategy must be communicated to groups in advance to allow them to plan appropriate actions. Similarly, groups must keep the Section informed of their activities so that the Section can maintain an overview of what is being done. What communication mechanisms are needed to ensure that the different bodies in your Section receive the information they need, when they need it? Again, you must exercise caution to ensure that communication does not become an end in itself. Overloading people with irrelevant information can be as great a problem as not giving them enough.

N Decision-making

Commitment from the decision-makers (such as the board) to strategy _ and the resources that the strategy entails _ is also important to effective campaigning. Decision-making processes should be clear and responsive to the needs of relevant people at the relevant time. Campaigners should provide decision-makers with the appropriate information and alert relevant people in the Section when unclear decisions have a negative impact on the Section's campaigning effectiveness.

Expanding capacity and developing skills

There are always more human rights violations than AI can campaign against effectively. This is one reason why strategic campaigning is essential for AI. In addition, all structures need to build on their existing campaigning capacity. The campaign coordinator's role is central to this.

AI expects a lot of its members. They need to know about AI's mandate, current concerns, working methods and fundraising, and how to plan a campaign and undertake a myriad of campaigning and organizational activities. It is obvious that they need support to develop the appropriate knowledge and skills. Some of the main ways of offering such support include:


N Full training programs

Many Sections have an ongoing, structured program for training their members. This may include an induction program and more advanced training in AI's mandate, concerns, working methods and techniques for active members. Many Sections provide specialist training for people with particular responsibilities _ board members, country coordinators, press officers, group campaign coordinators, etc. They also recruit professional trainers to identify members' training needs and design and run the program.

Campaign coordinators have an important role to play in ensuring that the training program is responsive to the campaigning priorities of the Section. This may mean contributing to the overall design of the program to make sure that campaigning needs are addressed, and helping to run training sessions on campaigning techniques, strategic planning, campaign coordination and other issues.

A training program should always be part of the overall strategic plan of the Section. For example, if outreach has been identified as a priority, then the training program should contribute by training the membership in how to do outreach work.

N One-off training sessions

Groups, networks, the Section board, staff and others may occasionally need one-off training sessions on particular issues. For example, at an annual general meeting prior to the launch of a country campaign, people within the Section may need to be briefed on the background and main concerns underlying the campaign, as well as the Section's objectives and strategy and perhaps the specific techniques relevant to the campaign.

N Materials

Written materials are an important way of training members. Some sections put a Tip of the Month in their regular group mailing on techniques such as letter-writing, planning or organizing a demonstration.

Campaign materials can also incorporate a training element by including, for example, questions to guide the group's discussion on their strategy for the campaign.

c Identifying and analysing needs

What is the need? (Is there a major campaign approaching, for example?) Is training necessary? (A group might ask for a training workshop when you may be able to meet the need by a letter or telephone call). Who needs training? When do they need it? Who is the best person to do the training and what are the priorities?

c Training objectives

What exactly do you want the training to achieve? If you are not clear about this, it will not achieve the results you want.

Training objectives should state what the participants will be able to do as a result of the training (for example, write a one-page news release). Objectives will vary according to whom the training is aimed, even if it is on a similar subject (training for new members on the mandate will aim for a lower level of understanding than mandate training for group coordinators). The key is to be specific and realistic.

A report by the Committee for the Systematic Evaluation of Techniques (SYSTEC) in 1989 (AI Index: ACT 11/03/89) into long-term prisoner of conscience work showed clearly that Action Files that were part of a country strategy were more successful than those for which there seemed to be no strategy.

Action forms

Action forms cover all AI's campaigning _ from the short blast of thousands of letters, faxes and telegrams of Urgent Actions to the steady activity of local AI groups on Action Files or the major concerted worldwide efforts of country campaigns.

All action forms are meant to be part of an integrated strategy on a country or issue. They should allow AI to focus its resources for a period, to sustain a level of action and to vary the amount of pressure or concern according to that strategy.

The movement needs to review consistently the impact of these action forms. For example, if Action Files do not seem to be working, other forms of action, such as a special action for lawyers, could be tried.

Theme campaigns can be initiated from International Council Meeting decisions, Sections or the relevant teams in the IS. They require ratification by the International Executive Committee.

When the IS announces an action, Sections will normally be given 18 months' notice for a major campaign or six months' notice for a smaller action. For crisis situations action will have to be mobilized more rapidly.

Criteria for country campaigns

Proposals for country campaigns should meet the following criteria:

N the gravity of the human rights situation should merit the high investment of resources which a country campaign entails;

N there are specific strategic reasons for undertaking the campaign at this time;

N the proposed country campaign should contribute to ensuring a regional and political balance in AI's campaigning;

N the proposed country should be a designated “high priority” or “super-high priority” country;

N there should be the potential for achieving concrete positive results in the country;

N there should be a requirement for the involvement of a significant part of the membership (if not, another action form will be more appropriate);

N the country strategy should appear to be relatively stable in the medium term (18 to 24 months) to enable planning and the preparation of materials (this does not exclude campaigning on volatile countries so long as the underlying political situation, the power structures and the human rights context are unlikely to change dramatically);

N it must be possible to obtain the information needed to prepare the campaign.

The proposal for a country campaign should also identify:

N the implications for AI membership development and strengthening of the NGO movement in the country;

N how the campaign might strengthen international and regional human rights standards or mechanisms.



c Spend time making sure volunteers have what they need.

c Find out what motivates them and ensure you keep giving the motivation.

c Try and match volunteers' skills and interests with appropriate tasks. c Give people a definite list of tasks for which they are responsible.

c Provide some variety and room to develop new skills and experience.

c Do not overwork volunteers!

c Involve volunteers in discussions and activities.

c Create a pleasant working environment.

c Show appreciation and celebrate success.

c Where possible, let people work together on tasks.

There is a widespread recognition that to be more effective AI must develop ways of encouraging AI's membership at all levels to make strategic choices about how they can most effectively contribute to AI's objectives.* There are various materials available to help different levels of the membership to make strategic choices. You can also contact relevant IS development and/or campaigning staff for further advice. (See Strategic Thinking in Amnesty International, AI Index: POL 50/05/94.)

Making decisions

Decisions about Section participation in campaign should be based on:

N the international strategy

N national context/issues

N available resources

International strategies should identify the countries on which campaigning action is particularly important. Where this is not explicit, campaigners can contact the relevant researcher or campaign coordinator at the IS to discuss their expectations.

Nothing succeeds like success! Feedback is an important way of encouraging and motivating people at every level of the movement by the good news and success stories of other campaigners and campaigns.

An AI group campaigning kit

N    Background to country/issue and summary of AI's specific concerns.

N    Summary of international and national strategy and rationale for it, including a list of the specific objectives of the campaign.

N     Question and Answer (Q&A) sheets to answer anticipated questions that group members or the public may have.

N     Advice on outreach actions, such as how to approach local religious leaders and what action to ask for. Provide separate sheets specific to the different outreach sectors you are prioritizing. If there are materials specifically designed to appeal to these outreach sectors, include enough copies of these.

N     Advice and materials for gaining media coverage (see Chapter 9).

N     Advice on lobbying, such as how to approach and arrange meetings with local politicians, points to raise, what action to ask for (see Chapter 11).

N     Letter-writing advice, such as points to raise with officials in the target country. Include advice on correct style, salutation, when and how many letters to send to each address, whether to write as AI members or not, the addresses to write to (see Chapter 7).

N    Suggestions and advice for fundraising during the campaign (see Chapter 5).

N    Suggestions and advice on conducting public activities to highlight the campaign (see Chapter 7).

N     Advice on leaflets/posters/petitions, such as how they can be used and distributed (see Chapter 8).

N     A list of significant dates for the campaign _ in the target country or the home country. N     A copy of the relevant AI report or briefing with an order form.

Some Sections use coloured paper for different topics to make it easier to follow. Make sure coloured paper can be photocopied.

'Lives behind the Lies':

(clockwise from top right) a street artist in Zurich; AI delegates meet relatives of the “disappeared” in Lima, Peru; a table set for the “disappeared” in New Zealand; 43 cattle in Copenhagen, Denmark, highlight a case from Colombia where 43 people were made to “disappear” for allegedly stealing cattle; the Bourequat brothers, former “disappeared” prisoners from Morocco, at the campaign launch in Stockholm, Sweden; footprints of the “disappeared” in New Zealand.

© ai

AI campaign on China as seen from around the world. Top two pictures: the UK Section launches the campaign in London's Chinatown. Below: a mural in Brazil; a demonstration in Pakistan; AI's Secretary General Pierre Sané delivers a copy of AI's China report to the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok: riot police block his path.

© ai

Problem solving

Before rushing to find solutions, you should check that you have identified the problem correctly. As Einstein said: “The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution.”

N Identify the problem

M    Break the problem down into component parts by listing all the “symptoms” of the problem, such as low morale, inadequate access to the media.

M    Gather any background information on the problem by talking to the people involved.

M    Brainstorm: What do we know about the problem? What are the causes? (See margin, page 71.)

N Find solutions

This can be easy if you have correctly identified the problem. But do not commit yourselves to the most obvious solution before considering alternatives. There are several ways you can do this:

M    Brainstorm.

M    Ask probing questions of a variety of people. What strategy could resolve the problem? What approaches have not been thought of?

M    List ideas under two columns. What could make the problem better? What could make it worse?

M    Invite someone with little relationship to the problem to provide ideas. People often find it difficult to be creative about familiar problems.

N Make the decision

You probably have many ideas now. To decide on the right one:

M    Start by eliminating unworkable choices.

M    Look at combining solutions.

M    Look at the potential costs, risks, benefits and rewards of the remaining options.

M    Test the chosen solution. Does it solve the root cause of the problem? Does it satisfy everyone or most people? Is there time to implement it? Do we have the resources to implement it?


Training is often more difficult than you think. Participants may be nervous about trying new things. It is often tricky to train people in something on which you are an expert. Knowing how to do something and being able to train others to do it are completely different skills. If possible, seek the advice of an experienced trainer, particularly if it is a difficult issue or if the training is using a lot of Section resources. Advice is also available from the International Development Unit at the IS.

Logo for AI's 1997 campaign on refugees' human rights



c Start with a question relevant to the topic being considered.

c The lead person should write down people's ideas as they arise, preferably on a large sheet of paper so that everyone can see.

c People should not comment on or challenge others' ideas, or try to interpret their meaning during the session as this will stifle creativity.

c Try to generate as many ideas as possible.

c After the session, discuss and analyse the ideas.

Amnesty International Campaign Manual