Wednesday, February 28, 2007

USA Annual General Meeting - register now

The tagline for this year's AIUSA AGM in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from March 23 - March 25 is "ordinary people extraordinary change" and I am hoping that any extraordinary changes made at the AGM are ones for the good of AI.

The closing date to book a room at the Annual General Meeting is today (Thursday 1 March). You can book through the website here. Don't worry if you miss the deadline, you can still attend, but you will have to find your own accommodation.

On the Saturday morning (the 24th from 9am-1045am) , one of the workshops/discussion panels is entitled " Getting a Handle on AI's Policy and Work on Sexual and Reproductive Rights". Working parties will be set up on the Saturday afternoon to phrase resolutions and votes will be taken the following morning.

Monday, February 26, 2007

AIUK's AGM scheduling

I have my doubts about the probity of the AIUK membership consultation: who can blame me after all, given AIUK's previous attempts to organise an "even-handed" debate on the topic (one of which last year omitted the anti-abortion position at all). So. sadly I suspect that many of the organisation's leaders are doing what they can to sway the vote in favour of advocating abortion. The scheduling of the debates at the conference and AGM has not put my mind at rest. Following this apparent thorough and detailed consultative process AIUK has scheduled exactly 15 minutes to update members attending the AGM on Saturday 24 March about the consultation (yep, Tim Hancock the campaigns director will speak from 10.10 - 10.25 on the euphemistically entitled"Sexual and reproductive rights" consultation). The following day (that's from 9.15 on a Sunday morning for 1hr and 45mins) they'll debate resolutions relating to the issue. Now, with this such a divisive and important issue for AI on a global scale, you would think that they could devote a little more time to this during the course of the three-day event.

By the way, if you are going to go to AIUK's AGM, you have to register by this Friday (2 March). you can do this through the Amnesty UK website.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A reputation too important to lose

AI Secretary General Irene Khan's blog from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos made interesting reading. Just as you would expect she quite rightly urged world leaders to live up to the promise of human rights. She pondered whether this year's forum was "more cosmetic than substantive" and considered how NGOs like AI seemed to be being sidelined or at least reserved for worthy post-prandial speeches - a worrying observation at a time when the world faces enormous human rights challenges. But there was good news too: she noted how she was recognised in a juice bar by a leading politician and even managed to grab a cappuccino with the Pakistan PM without an apppointment and had a hard talk about human rights.

If, as she says, NGOs are being sidelined it looks as if AI still has some sway and that's because over the years the organisation Ms Khan heads has built up an enviable reputation for morality and championing human rights. If this reputation is ruined - as may well be the case if AI decides to advocate abortion, Ms Khan may find it becoming even more difficult to grab a coffee with world leaders.

One of the latest AI campaigns is Human Rights for All - NO EXCEPTIONS....a sentiment I think all AI supporters would endorse. Even before AI takes a decision about whether or not to promote abortion as a human right in Mexico in August, many find these campaigns a bitter irony. If it is adopted then there is surely an argument that AI is in fact prepared to make exceptions and if AI can do it, how can it object if other organisations, individuals or countries decide to make their own exceptions to who have human rights? It's credibility will have gone and Ms Khan may find herself sitting all alone in the coffee shop of next year's forum.