The 2012 AGM: An electric atmosphere - energising, inspiring and entertaining in a wholly different way!

By Caitlin Green, Student Action Network Committee (STAN) + York University Amnesty Student Group Co-Chair 

The Amnesty International UK Annual General Meeting (AGM) has just been wrapped up splendidly, with a real sense of community surrounding the youth, student and local group members thronged within the hall.

Earlier this year I participated in a Student Conference packed with poignant and inspiring plenary sessions. I expected the AGM to be somewhat drier as it focuses on resolutions, amendments and voting. However, my expectations quickly changed as the AGM proved equally entertaining in a wholly different way!

Working parties did not resemble a party, yet debating resolutions and how to effect change within them was engaging. It was interesting to understand the processes behind what Amnesty does and the set of rules which back them. When voting took place in the four hundred-strong main hall, an electric atmosphere, coupled with members waving colourful cards above their heads, reinforced the feeling of community within the crowd.

Ages ranged from fourteen to seventy, and viewpoints ran the gamut from observations and inserting the word “relevant”, to discussions of union workers rights, to instating a structure to protect human rights in sporting organisations. Youthful voices popped up over the weekend with confidence and creativity. As an example, one insightful youth rightly amended a resolution to say “he or she” rather than simply “he”.
 
Everyone was congenial and director Kate Allen was approachable as she talked with members and engendered a feeling of cohesiveness. One of my favourite aspects of the conference was the chance to meet other activists and groups. Conversations with members from north and south have left me energised with new approaches to campaigns and out-of-the-box ideas for publicity.
 
I was particularly impressed with the amount of younger participants who submitted amendments or resolutions. Similarly, it was inspiring to sit alongside activists who have been involved in Amnesty for over twenty years and dedicated hundreds of hours to Amnesty. This level of participation created a knowledgeable and interesting audience which it was a pleasure to be a part of at the AGM.

At the beginning of the conference my friend and I joked about sneaking away for the boring bits to go for a meal on the ‘curry mile’. As it turns out, we could not be torn away and have left Manchester invigorated and inspired.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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