AIUK Comments on the Integrated Strategic Plan 2004-2010: Toolkit 2 Underlag till styrelsemöte 1-2 oktober 2002

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September 2002

Comments on the
Integrated Strategic Plan 2004-2010: Toolkit 2

Submitted to the joint ISP Committee / IEC meeting at Cork, 13-14 September



        2a. Form, structure and general direction of Toolkit 2 2
        2b. Definitions 2
        2c. Challenges facing the movement: internal and external 3
2d. Other issues: IGOs and Human Rights mechanisms 4


3a. Decision 10 and the 4-7 campaign themes 5


4a. Discrimination 6
4b. Accountability and fair administration of justice 7
4c. Freedom of expression 7
4d. Socio-economic justice 7


5a. Human Rights Education 8
5b. Individuals at Risk 9





AIUK welcomes the opportunity to input into this very important process and would like to thank the ISP Committee for all the work that has gone into making the process more accessible for Sections to engage with. We have instigated a thorough consultation process with the UK membership, and early indications are that there is a great enthusiasm and interest in this process. Our final submission will reflect this diverse input.

At this stage, we would like to take the opportunity of the joint Integrated Strategic Plan Committee / International Executive Committee meeting in Cork to highlight some of the main issues of interest and concern for AIUK, and to provide some advice and suggestions on possible ways forward. Potentially, the development of a truly strategic, movement-wide plan is a major milestone for AI, and AIUK fully supports this development. However, the plan will be fit for its purpose only if it genuinely addresses issues of resourcing, accountability, decision making and, most importantly of all, focus and intent. Without a clear and understandable focus, the plan will fail. Without a genuine, movement-wide intent to deliver against the agreed strategy, the plan is likely to be meaningless.


2a. Form, structure and general direction of Toolkit 2

It is not clear what effect the voting exercise will have on the overall shape of the final strategic plan and therefore operational plans of Sections and the IS. The practical implications of the priority levels are unclear, although we understand that the movement reiterated in Dakar that the ISP should be strategic and not operational.

We realise making hard choices is a very difficult process, but the voting exercise seems slightly rudimentary, with huge issues vying against one another for priority by virtue of the fact that they appear under the same heading. It is inevitable that Sections will vote or prioritise according to their local or regional realities. For example, if Sections in the North prioritise work on economic migrants and countries in the South prioritise work on internally displaced people, how will this help shape the overall direction of the plan? What will the ISP committee do with the result of this voting exercise?

2b. Definitions

Definitions are very important and the movement needs to be clear about the intellectual and practical interpretations of terms. We need to be absolutely clear about the practical meaning of “low priority”. We also need to be clear what we mean by “objectives".

For example, Toolkit 2 suggests that we should make a choice of one issue, and prioritise as high, medium or low, from the following list under “Demand accountability and the fair administration of justice”: torture, death penalty, impunity, accountability of corporate actors. Does the choice of one issue inform the 4-7 theme debate?

If one of these issues – say the death penalty - is deemed low priority and incorporated into the plan at this level, what does this mean in practice as a guide for the IS and Sections as they try to develop operational plans? Will we continue our work on this area, but with lower levels of resourcing? Will this issue be resourced at the current level, but relying on individual research teams maintaining a focus and therefore with no coherent international plan? Should Sections do basic work on the death penalty but with no SMART objectives that would probably not contribute to an international effort? If all of the areas cited in Toolkit 2 are then to be included in the strategic plan, at whatever priority level, we have a huge remit that conceivably covers most areas of human rights violations in the world today. This will result in a “something for everyone” approach, and it is an approach that the UK Section rejects .

To be useful, the strategic plan has to show us where to concentrate our effort and, necessarily, indicate where we will not expand energy or resources. We also, as an organisation, will need to develop a culture of “saying no”. And to do this, we have a practical issue to confront: we will need to equip our “front-end” people (the leadership at every level, spokespeople, those who network with sister organisations, very active members) with the tools to “say no”.

If areas of low priority are actually not incorporated into the plan, or if in reality it means we are not going to work on them, does this mean we will not issue UAs on the death penalty, will stop programme work on the death penalty, stop developing strategic alliances etc? If we are saying, “it is not in the plan so we’re not doing it” this is what the implication is of these choices.

Similarly, we need to clear about the definition of, or what we mean by, “objective(s)”
Many of the “objectives” contained in Toolkit 2 are more like visions (and somewhat utopian visions at that). For example “By the year 2010 there will be no states and few armed political groups that commit serious violations of the right to life and physical and mental integrity.” Long term objectives, in this case covering a 6-year period, still need to be SMART.

It is also not clear how potential strategies have been developed to achieve proposed “objectives”. For example, under the heading “Demand accountability and the fair administration of justice”, there is an objective / vision stating there will be no states committing serious violations of the right to life and physical and mental integrity. The strategy then suggests work against the death penalty without any clear rationale as to why this particular violation has been focused on. Without a specific, clear and transparent link, the plan is unlikely to carry people with it.

2c. Challenges facing the movement: internal and external

AIUK very much welcomed the comprehensive, thought provoking and challenging PEST analysis in the first phase of the ISP consultation. However, it is unclear how we have arrived at some of the strategic directions in Toolkit 2 on the basis of this analysis. Why, for example is “Defend freedom of expression” one of the six main headings? And how have we reached the objectives that we have? The way these priorities and objectives have been reached needs to be a lot more transparent, with the assessments clearly articulated.

We were pleased also to see the Critical Business Questions paper, which helpfully articulated some of the issues facing the movement. Many of these were very familiar – and very much in need of resolution. However, it is not clear how the thinking in this document is reflected in the current ISP paper. The most significant questions need to be explicitly addressed in the development of the ISP, at least in so far as the direction taken by the ISP is providing an answer to a “critical business question”.

The draft ISP is predicated on the idea that AI will develop and expand the "international space" that enables the organisation to live up to agreements of mutual accountability, and to build trust between sections, IS and IEC. However, this is not manifest in the plan. Expectations must be clear. Section activity will be guided by the ISP, so decisions and their implications must be explicit in the final document. This is one of the major challenges in the planning process, but the way forward must, surely, be to grasp this particular nettle sooner rather than later.

The balance between national and international work is also an issue that needs to be addressed more explicitly in the Plan. Is there a mechanism to ensure there is a balance between national and international work? If Sections are building up their own autonomy and the IS are relinquishing some deal of their central role, through project development etc, the Movement needs a mechanism to ensure there is more international solidarity work than national focus. Do we imagine our different areas of focus to be rationalised as a percentage in the future, for example large Sections committing themselves to working 75% on international and 25% on national work? Are percentage allocations practical? There must be a way to manage this, and we must understand the implications of this. Are the existing structures and fora sufficient for this level of co-ordination.

2d. Other issues:

IGOs and Human Rights Mechanisms
Explicitly recognised in Phase One of the ISP toolkit is the need to rethink how Amnesty uses International Governmental Organisations (IGOs) mechanisms how we might tackle the crisis that is facing the work of the Commission on Human Rights, in terms of its effectiveness. It is also recognised that the UN human rights committee system is weakened by political trade-offs and that for many people strong research and domestic campaigning with international support might be a more effective way forward.

If there is ambiguity internationally towards the UN and existing mechanisms, if there is questionable application of rights enshrined in these mechanisms, if the power of committees to enforce their implementation is weak, we should look at these areas more strategically and practically. In particular, we should, as a matter of urgency, inject a much more sophisticated and nuanced political assessment into our IGO work. Our advocacy work must be linked more effectively to our political assessments.

Often cited as objectives in Toolkit 2 is the promotion of ratification and implementation of international human rights mechanisms, like CERD, CEDAW, CAT, Geneva Conventions etc, or the development of international legal frameworks for the protection of refugees. We also need to think carefully about how we translate the enforcement of international human rights standards into meaningful action.


The International Council Meeting in Dakar represents the starting point of a period of great change for AI, during which the movement must because accustomed to operating as a mission (rather than mandate) based organisation, undergo a radical overall of the way it campaigns in the light of the SCRA Review (Decision 10); adopt an Integrated Strategic Plan, and more. Managing these changes in a coherent way is a major challenge for the movement. We are likely to achieve success in these endeavours only if we understand the inter-relationship between these changes whilst at the same time remaining firmly focused on the “big picture” change we are intent on bringing about. AIUK has a number of concerns about the way in which the ISP Toolkit 2 deals with the inter-relationship between these various institutional developments, and is unclear, from the Toolkit, whether the organisation which emerges will be one which is able to deliver what it has promised to do. We have, at this stage, the following concerns in particular.

3a. Decision 10 and the 4-7 Campaign Themes

AIUK welcomes the changes recommended in the SCRA Review and is restructuring internally to enable implementation of these changes, with campaign managers ready to take up the 4-7 campaigns recommended by a future ICM. The decision to “restructure the campaigns to a model which identifies 4-7 themes or issues that capture most of the global human rights abuses within Amnesty’s concerns” provides the basis for Amnesty to develop a balanced and impactful campaigns profile which has real impact on the lives of those who do not enjoy basic fundamental human rights.

We must take this opportunity to clearly identify 4-7 campaigns which seek to bring about change on a global scale and which unmistakably spell out what Amnesty is doing. The term “change on a global scale” is used deliberately to avoid the confusion brought about by the interchangeable use of terms such as Campaign’ Campaigning; Campaign Themes, etc. The central pillar of SCRA is the idea that AI is determined to bring about change on a global scale, and that we are willing to refocus our energies to achieve this. A recent UK analysis of politicians’ perception of Amnesty International concluded that although we were seen to be effective, they had no idea what we were working on. Our brand is strong but our campaigning activities are disparate. Active engagement with Amnesty is made more difficult by this lack of clarity, and the situation will not be helped if we continue this broad approach to our work. If we do not end up with 4-7 campaigns, much will be lost.

On the other hand, if the 4-7 themes, which are supposed to “capture most of the global human rights abuses within Amnesty’s concerns”, are seen merely as a loose “umbrella” under which we can all carry on as usual, developing SMART objectives will be very difficult, if not impossible. AIUK believes that an attempt to do this would be a mistake.

We must get the balance right between the overarching change objective and the minutiae of projects. Objectives shouldn’t be so broad as to make the projects that will contribute to achieving them too disparate. And we must be both realistic and determined. It will take a very long time, if ever, to achieve the change objective if it is too broad and the projects are as specific as suggested in the SCRA review. For example, if the eradication of torture is proposed as the change objective, and criminalising sexual contact between guards and female prisoners in South Africa is one project, the change objective will not be met in our lifetime. (It took the UK government 3 years from signing to ratifying the ICC, and they were in favour of the principle.)

AIUK’s Arms Controls campaign could be seen as an example of a project. This has specific policy change objectives and relates to wider Amnesty concerns. Country specific concerns were built into campaigning and lobbying efforts that the international movement could input into. To broaden the perspective into an international theme campaign, the IS would develop the overarching international objectives – for example, the establishment of an international code of conduct for arms transfers.

The criteria for selecting these 4-7 change objectives must be a lot tighter. Either this or a distinction should be made between what we want to see from the whole package and what we want to see from each of the constituent parts. The whole package should reflect global coverage, regional balance, have global application etc. But if these criteria were applied to the selection of each of the 4-7 change objectives, whole areas of our work would be precluded from consideration, for example FGM or honour killings. The criteria suggested under “Strategy and planning” and “Activism and development” are important to consider when selecting individual themes.

The link between the Country Action Programme (CAP) to be established under Decision 10 and the ISP strategy needs to be made explicit. Will the areas given high priority in the ISP then inform the content of the CAPs being developed as a result of Decision 10 of the ICM and therefore the focus of country research? Or if issues relevant to the country are not mirrored in the 4-7 change objectives, should the CAP cover these? For example, if working on “disappearances” is given low priority in the ISP, but is a major issue in work on Algeria, should the CAP focus on this issue, meaning committing campaigning and research capacity, even though it is not a priority for the movement? The link between the ISP and this aspect of Decision 10 should be made clear.


AIUK will submit detailed comments on the draft human rights strategy once the consultation process has concluded. However, some concerns can be addressed immediately. AIUK’s major concern is that the draft human rights strategy is focused around 6 “groups” of human rights rather than 6 key strategic directions or intentions. We suggest an alternative in Para 5 below. In terms of the 6 groups of rights, we would like, at this stage, to suggest the following.

4a. Discrimination

It is unfeasible to rank forms of discrimination and to choose one target group over another. This contradicts the important point noted at the start of the section “Build mutual respect and fight discrimination”, recognising the intersection of different forms of discrimination. Drawing on the PEST analysis, we would suggest that AI give a particular focus to considering two broad areas or clusters of discrimination: discrimination based on race, ethnicity and religion, on the one hand, and discrimination based on gender (including sexual orientation). These are identified in the PEST analysis as key forms of discrimination which are giving rise to human rights violations in the current context.

4b. Accountability and fair administration of Justice

The draft ISP envisages a 'business as usual' approach to the administration of justice. It is primarily oppositional and dominated by familiar themes. Undeniably, torture, the death penalty and impunity will continue and will demand a response from us. However, a good justice system is of fundamental importance to the delivery of human rights. Perhaps between 2004 and 2010 we need a greater emphasis on building good justice systems and extending the rule of law. When making our assessments perhaps we need a new set of questions. In addition to asking whether torture occurs and whether trials are fair, we should ask whether the justice system (or its component parts) are discriminatory and whether those who are economically marginalised have what they need to access it. A specific example might be to examine a criminal justice system from the perspective of the rape victim, to ensure justice for the defendant and justice for the victim; to ensure that systemic barriers to the reporting, investigation and prosecution of such gender-related crimes are minimised

Because our case work has been such an important component of our work against impunity, torture and the death penalty, we may wish to examine other strategic uses for our solidarity with individuals. Groups, for example, may wish to support individuals not only when they fall foul of the justice system but also when they need to use it.

The draft ISP’s conservative approach to the administration of justice may prove to be the right one. But we owe it to ourselves to consider more radical alternatives and to see if we can more comprehensively reflect our new vision and mission in this vital area.

4c. Freedom of expression

AIUK is doubtful whether Freedom of Expression should be one of the 6 pillars of our strategy, believing that the approach set out in Para 5 below makes this unnecessary.

4d. Socio-economic justice

AIUK is pleased to see “working for economic and social justice” identified as one of the components of the human rights strategy and hopes this area will be preserved, properly resourced, and developed substantially during the plan period.


With the above in mind, AIUK invites the ISP Committee to give serious thought to the following proposal, which aims to develop the human rights strategy so that it is truly “a grand design or plan of action to be taken against an enemy, political opponents, or in order to ensure that a business enterprise is successful” (as “strategy” is defined in the New Fowler’s Modern English Usage , Oxford).

AIUK believes it is a mistake for the human rights strategy to be comprised only of 6 “human rights”. Whilst this approach does usefully cluster what we do in an informative way, it really does not provide a realistic vision or framework for what AI is in fact doing to “change the world”. * A better approach might be to see the human rights strategy as AI’s 6-year, 6-point plan for change. Under this approach, AIUK would like to suggest two areas of strategic intent for adoption.

5a. Human Rights Education.

One of the three fundamental concepts guiding AI in the ISP is equity . Education (not just HRE) is a fundamental contributor of power and knowledge. Amnesty International UK suggests that Human Rights Education should be one of the 6 priority areas in the ISP human rights strategy. This will ensure that the movement has a strategic, focussed approach to Human Rights Education that maximises the potential that Amnesty International can bring to this area, but does not replicate unnecessarily work that other organisations are doing.

Amnesty International is a movement that aims to change practice in the field of human rights. Bringing about change in a complex world relies on many techniques. These include changing policy at all levels, mobilising our huge membership to take action as part of the movement, education programmes to empower, change attitudes and practice, and awareness raising.

Human Rights Education can refer to different types of activity. These include both working with the target group to empower that group – for example, if we are running an international campaign on the human rights of indigenous people, it would make sense to run a programme to empower that group rather than “impose” human rights from outside. Secondly, there is work to educate a broad mass of people to understand their rights and the rights of others. For example, in the UK, with human rights now included in the national curriculum for the first time, there are opportunities to education people (8 million young people are currently in school) from a rights-based approach about a whole host of issues but including refugee and discrimination issues. It is a powerful tool for mobilising and has to be targeted. For example, HRE work in the UK could be more targeted to comprehensive and inner city schools, which could in turn strengthen and diversify our activist / supporter base.

Although we welcome the specific references to Human Rights Education as part of the strategy to combat racism, we are concerned that Human Rights Education should not be seen merely as a tool, but as one of the central strategic “pillars” of what we do, alongside other strategic pillars such as discrimination, working for social and economic justice, etc.

HRE should also underpin development strategies for Sections / Structures, and will be important in developing strong local frameworks and human rights constituencies. This will in turn connect the international movement with local issues. In championing the right to education, Amnesty could play an important role in developing grass roots capacity to organise.

5b. Individuals at Risk

One of Amnesty’s core values is effective work on behalf of the individual victim. It is not clear how our work on the individual will be coherently dealt with in this stage of the plan other than through this core commitment. Internally speaking, it would be useful to know what the real proportion of work is at the IS on individuals, as the number of Acton Files on individuals is diminishing and updates on cases can sometimes be hard to find.

We need to be clear how new areas of work will incorporate work on the individual. Cases need to be accessible and not buried in the middle of reports or appear only in the CAPs. More thought needs to be given on how to approach our work on individuals coherently and this needs to be articulated in the ISP.

In the UK Section, we have identified an “ongoing programme of work to protect Human Rights Defenders and Individual at Risks of human rights violations”, as one of our strategic priorities. This will bring together Urgent Actions, most RANs, Action Files, Human Rights Defenders (and more) with a dual focus on sustained action by members on behalf of individuals (something we do very well) and, secondly, a greater “preventative” flavour, ie developing the concept that the AI “global community of Human Rights Defenders” provides solidarity and effective interventions in every corner of the globe – using tried and tested “signature” techniques. It may be that such an approach would be useful also in the ISP, and we invite the ISP Committee to explore this idea. We will be submitting a more detailed proposal in our 15 November submission, but if you need more information at this stage please let us know.

An “Individuals at Risk” package could ensure a central focus on individuals is maintained. Appeals cases that could have farther-reaching consequences and repercussions beyond the individual case should be identified. This would necessitate research and analysis into suitable cases and potential outcomes. Examples of such cases include Stephen Lawrence, Ngwang Choephel, Safiya Hussaini, Dita Sari etc. Cases could contribute to and inform the theme campaigns and also work as stand-alone cases highlighting relevant issues. They will enable focused and mass campaigning, lobbying, media work and could lead to more diverse activities, like fundraising, legal action, alliance building and grassroots development.

A coherent Individuals at Risk campaign / programme would promote international solidarity and protect the principle of universality. And, quite simply, this remains on – though absolutely not the only – thing that Amnesty does and does well. Why not celebrate it and update it?


At this stage, AIUK would like to register its disquiet over the proposals set out under the Chapter “Mobilise and grow our financial strength”.

The draft financial strategy XI.1 suggests a target of sustainable income growth of 20% p.a. by 2010. The options make it clear that this would be an average compound growth rate over the 6 years of the plan period. This presumably is also an average over the whole movement and is intended to raise income threefold by 2010. To do this in cash terms means that the half dozen or so leading sections need to achieve or exceed this growth rate to compensate for the others who could never do so.

The UK Section has committed itself to high sustainable growth over the past 6 years and has increased its membership by 45% in that time. The average compound growth rate in income has been 12% and to achieve that we have spent some £20 million on our Marketing efforts.

It is not at all clear that even doubling our previous investment would result in the desired growth of total income; the competition for the supporter's $, £ or Euro in sophisticated Western/Northern markets make reliance on traditional membership income for such growth unrealistic.

A more realistic strategy may well be to pursue a modest growth target for membership/supporter income but combined with serious initiatives at international and section level to develop major donor programmes in appropriate territories.

All of this would require significant investment at both the international and section level and the strategy should be revised to make this abundantly clear. Without some hard data on what is involved in setting such growth targets, this section of the ISP will remain merely aspirational and therefore guaranteed to fail.


AIUK will input fully into the Phase 2 of the consultation process before the deadline on November 15. Where we have not made concrete suggestions we hope to be able to do so in our full submission.

Following the points raised in this paper, AIUK would like the ISP Committee to consider the following conclusions and recommendations:

Recommendation I: Voting

We would like a commitment from the ISP committee that the way in which strategic priorities are agreed will not be based on a vote count.

Recommendation II: Strategic Priorities

AIUK believes it is wrong for the human rights strategy to be made up of 6 “groups of rights”, as this is not balanced nor, in fact, representative of what we do. We propose two additions: Human Rights Education (HRE) and Individuals at Risk.

Human Rights Education should be a strategic priority for the Movement, rather than being recognised as a tool under our organisational strategy. We are not clear how Freedom of Expression has arisen from the PEST analysis, particularly the proposed work on media ownership and censorship. We suggest Freedom of Expression is dropped as a strategic priority and is replaced by Human Rights Education.

Equally, AIUK believes AI should adopt the Individuals at Risk approach as a strategic priority. Individuals – prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders (from the FoE heading) – as well as all other individuals on whose behalf Amnesty works - could be approached more strategically through a coherent programme. We should use our huge presence and mobilising capability to protect people in a concerted and focused way, with the emphasis in this particular area being immediate protection rather than longer-term fixing of systems. AIUK suggests, therefore, a seventh strategic intent of “protecting Human Rights Defenders and Individuals at Risk”.

Recommendation III: Resourcing

AIUK would like to see a clear commitment that priority areas where resources are required, such as work on socio-economic justice, are fully resourced, and areas in which we already have considerable expertise and could conceivably operate more cheaply, like administration of justice, are conversely given fewer resources (if necessary).

Recommendation IV: Work on IGOs

AIUK would like to see a different approach to our IGO work, particularly as we rely heavily on the international rights system to justify our messages and constitute our objectives. Amnesty should make the systems and our approach to them more accessible to activists and engage in more detail at Section and IS level. Our Advocacy work should be better informed by our political assessment.

Recommendation V: 4-7 Change Objectives Of Global Reach

This ISP is due to enter into force in 2004, at which point AI will be at the mid-point of the Violence Against Women Campaign, a campaign which, in itself, has the potential to radically reposition amnesty in relation to a major human rights issue of our age. Bearing this in mind, AIUK considers the following as strong contenders for our long-term campaigns. As a package they reflect global coverage, preserve our identity, bring added value, have global application and so on. Individually, SMART medium-term objectives can be developed and achieved, they are easily definable, enable mass mobilisation, effective action and international solidarity, including through the development of alliances.

· Campaign against violence against women
· Campaign for gender equality (or, alternatively, a campaign for equality generally)
· Campaign for the abolition of the Death Penalty
· Campaign for an international code of conduct on arms transfers
· Campaign for corporate accountability


AIUK reiterates its thanks to the ISP Committee for its work and hopes these comments will be incorporated into the deliberations of the Committee.

* The expression “change the world” is used more to capture all that AI does to deliver its vision and mission.