Message to Amnesty International UK activists from Ciarnan Helferty, Chair of AIUK

Amnesty International is an organisation that is close to my heart. They have been going through a rocky patch of late. As such I thought I would share with you the Chair of Amnesty International UK’s message to activists in light of their first ‘Extraordinary General Meeting‘ in nearly 30 years. 
 
I understand that some activists/members do not feel that this reflects the whole story – As such, I would happily accept a guest post from any disgruntled activist. 
 
For everyone else…
 
14 January 2013 
Dear Colleagues,
 
On Saturday January 12th, AIUK held its first Extraordinary General Meeting in more than 30 years to discuss the issue of our increased contribution to the international movement. We also discussed the proposed restructuring and the issue of redundancies at AIUK; part of the cost savings programme we initiated to provide this increase in funding to the global movement and ensure the medium-term financial stability for the organisation. 
 
Resolutions 2 and 4, which sought to halt increases in the assessment, were not passed and, therefore, the international movement’s vision, as expressed at the 2011 ICM, remains intact. This is the vision of Amnesty International as a powerful organisation adapting to a changing world by shifting significant resources to the global South and East, with greatly increased impact in our work for the rights of all people. That these two resolutions did not pass means that AIUK can now confirm that we will play our full and agreed part in that.   
 
Resolution 5, which called for the redundancy process to be withdrawn, was defeated. Resolution 6, which directed AIUK not to implement “any material reorganisation without the consent of the company in general meeting”, was carried.  
 
Resolution 6 also requires AIUK to prepare and implement as soon as reasonably practical a budget that conforms to the direction set out in the resolutions. The Board has therefore asked the senior management team to prepare a budget that meets our international obligations and provides options for consideration on our approach to the issue of redundancies in the context of the outcome of Saturday’s meeting. 
 
This will be undertaken as a matter of urgency and considered by the Board at the earliest possible opportunity. The next meeting of the Board is scheduled for the 2nd February and I am sorry that until then we cannot draw to a close the period of uncertainty for staff. 
 
The Board met immediately after the EGM and reflected upon the meeting. It was extraordinary in many ways, not least for the passion with which heartfelt views were expressed and for the commitment to Amnesty’s work that lay behind the contributions from members, more than 500 of whom attended.  
 
I welcome the fact that we will be able to meet our financial commitments to the international movement; the vision and decisions of the 2011 ICM regarding our commitment to the global south remains intact. I welcome too the part played by our democracy in reaching this point and recognise the absolutely legitimate desire of members, expressed at the EGM, to be more involved in discussions about the role of AIUK.  The Board will be setting up a task group to discuss this ahead of April’s AGM and will be inviting the proposers of the EGM resolutions and others to join. I’m sure we will not all agree with the various EGM results but, our democratic process having played its part, we need to focus our energy on our essential work in pursuit of human rights change. We also need to reflect on how we work together to find common ground and resolve the substantial challenges we face to make this a reality. We have lots of work to do – as a Board and as a Section – in the coming days, weeks and months.  
 
I am very grateful to all those who took the time to contribute to the discussions leading up to, and at the EGM itself. It’s been challenging for us as a section and tough decisions remain ahead of us. However, it is your passion and commitment that makes Amnesty the successful organisation that it is and I am confident that we will come through these challenging times stronger still.  
 
Best wishes 

Ciarnan Helferty 
Chair
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