A wide range of relationships are being managed across the movement, with the people whose rights AI seeks to advance – human rights defenders, affected rights-holders, and members of local partner organisations. The manner of engagement varies depending on the context and scale of the work, and takes place through online and offline meetings, project planning and project review discussions and – in the context of research – interviews. It also depends on the nature of the work as collaboration or involvement is in some cases practically unachievable (cases of disappearances, death-row inmates, incommunicado detainees etc.). Then, AI teams strive for coordination with the individual’s family or relevant community networks.
Levels of engagement with stakeholders
The International Secretariat’s internal impact review of human rights project work over 2015 demonstrates that a high proportion (approximately 79%) of all projects report having involved rights holders at some level either during project planning or implementation.
That said, this data does not allow to make a meaningful assessment of ‘who’ they are involving (if they are going beyond the usual partners) or the level and quality of this participation (‘informing’, ‘consulting, or ‘joint decision-making’). Consultation is the very minimum to be expected, and the impact review confirmed that out of the three levels, consultation is overall the most frequent scenario. A smaller proportion of projects will engage rights holders or partners in structured project reviews.
Renew emphasis on stakeholder feedback
AI’s Impact and Learning system, designed in 2015 and launched in early 2016, places renewed emphasis on increasing and innovating in the ways and frequency with which AI collects feedback from partners and rights holders. In terms of the movement-wide picture, information from the 2015 national entity annual reporting (SARs) indicates that overall, engagement with key stakeholders has consistently increased since 2011, reflecting the growing take-up of participatory approaches within the movement.
In the 2015 reporting period, AI made important efforts to significantly increase stakeholder engagement in the strategy setting process. Whilst developing a global strategy for 2016 to 2019, they promoted a wide conversation throughout 17 months of consultation process within the movement and beyond, running from January 2014 to end of May 2015, spanning across three phases and gathering in total 98 submissions from national entities (32 from the Global South) and the International Secretariat offices. An online discussion space was created and attracted over 500 members of Amnesty staff/volunteers from 68 countries.
AI puts special emphasis on increasing external engagement:
- sought engagement from partner organisations, other movements (e.g. trade unions), journalists, academics, and other experts, with many Regional Offices and national entities hosting their own consultation process with stakeholders to inform the above mentioned submissions
- launched an online strategy crowd-sourcing survey which received over 26,000 responses from 197 countries including 7000+ from the Global South
- hosted seven meta-trend events with high profile external speakers to scan external trends and utilised the Regional Advisory Groups (RAGs) as platforms to facilitate strategic-analysis building. AI has set up RAGs comprised of external independent experts for each region that meet annually.
Peer-reviewed Theories of Change
In addition, AI has developed 12 global Theories of Change that will shape the implementation of the Strategic Goals in the years to come and which were peer-reviewed by external critical friends. Both mainstreaming gender and diversity and incorporating active participation and mobilisation were elevated as cross-cutting themes that have been reflected in all global Theories of Change. The strategy adaptation and trends scanning are now re-conceptualised as an ongoing process through the new Impact and Learning system. A similar (but less intensive) approach is applied to all AI project work.