Chair's letter - May 2014

Dear friends,

The Board of AIUK met on the weekend of the 9 and 10 May and, as usual, I would like to provide you with a brief account of our meeting.
We started our meeting on Friday 9 with news about the case of the more than 200 girls abducted in Nigeria. Amnesty’s researchers had gathered damning testimonies which revealed that Nigeria's military headquarters in Maiduguri was aware of the impending attack soon after 7pm on 14 April, close to four hours before Boko Haram began their assault on the town.

This information was released to the media on Friday and Kate Allen was busy with media interviews as well as Board business over the weekend. I hope you will have seen some of this, including Kate’s interview on Newsnight. Amnesty's contribution to this issue has come at a crucial time and we very much hope it will help focus even more attention on the Nigerian Government to take effective action. The Board passed on our thanks and appreciation to the Amnesty research team and AIUK's Media team for their very effective work.

Board members

The May meeting of the Board is the first full meeting following the AGM and is the first meeting of the new Board. We were delighted to welcome three new Board members, Eilidh Douglas, Tom Sparks and Richard Cryer, our new Treasurer, to the Board. The Board thanked Cris Burson-Thomas, who remains on the Board, for his excellent work in this role over the past year. The Board held elections for Chair and Vice Chair which were organised by AIUK’s Returning Officer, John Pestle. I am honoured to inform you that I was re-elected as Chair. It is a huge privilege to have been elected to continue in this role and I am greatly looking forward to working with you, the Board and Staff over the coming year in this important time for AIUK and the international movement. I am delighted that Hannah Perry, Chair of the Activism Sub-Committee, was re-elected as Vice Chair.

Read more about the current Board.

2014 AGM

The Board reflected on the AGM in Edinburgh and felt that it was an inspiring and successful event, valuing and enjoying this key opportunity to get together with and hear from members. Thank you to all who attended and contributed to the debates in and outside the formal sessions and workshops. For those who may not have read it, Hannah Perry's blog is here.

Feedback from members who attended will be reviewed in detail by the Activism Sub Committee and the AGM Review Group and the Board is looking forward to discussing the analysis and ideas for changes for the 2015 AGM.

AGM Decisions

The Board reflected on the Decisions of the 2014 AGM and allocated responsibility for oversight of each Decision to specific Board members. The full list will be posted on the website this week. We will post an update on the implementation of each of these Decisions on the website after each Board meeting. Please do get in touch directly with the appropriate Board member if you have questions about specific decisions.

The Board spend considerable time reflecting on the outcome of the AGM Decisions on the draft policy relating to sex work and on the submission we make to the international movement which will reflect that. We are due to present AIUK’s submission to the consultation this month and will share that with you as soon as it is complete, so please look out for another email from me next month. This submission will guide my input into the debate that will take place at the Chair’s and Director’s Forum on the 21 and 22 June near Reading in the UK.

Chairs Assembly

The Board considered the agenda for Chairs Assembly and Directors Forum and our input into the meeting. In addition to the debate on the sex work policy, the meeting will also focus on Strategic Goals, global campaigns, the Global Transition Programme and governance reform, including core standards. Papers have started to arrive and are being considered in preparation. In the debate I will reflect the concerns expressed by members through recent AGMs and the EGM about the transparency and accountability of the International Secretariat and the impact of the implementation of the Global Transition Programme. I will report back to you on the outcomes of that meeting.

There is a Q & A session with the International Board and Secretary General. If there are any questions which you would like me to consider asking, please send these to me by 5 June.

Finances/Treasurer's Report

The Board received the Treasurer’s report and were encouraged to hear that our financial position is currently good and we are in fact forecasting to be ahead of net income budget by the year end. This is principally because we are again in receipt of more legacy income than can be prudently budgeted for. The first quarter report will be posted on the website very shortly.

Strategic Goals

The Board spent time considering our thoughts on the potential strategic goals for the global movement. We went through a similar exercise to the one we encouraged Groups and Networks to carry out this month and it was a very useful and productive session. You will hear about this work again in August when we will be consulted by the International Board on options for the draft Strategic Goals themselves. The time frame for this work is longer, from August until October, and so I hope that this will give more time for members to consider the issues and respond.

Stop Torture Campaign

The Board discussed the launch of the Stop Torture Campaign and were pleased with how the campaign planning is progressing. Several Board members and I attended the moving and inspiring launch on 14 May, which was transmitted live via YouTube.

Watch the Stop Torture Campaign launch on YouTube.

We are looking forward to the Global Day of Activism that will take place on 26 June and hope that as many members as possible will be able to take part in actions on that day. We were also pleased to be informed of a training session on the new campaign which will take place on June 14 at the Human Rights Action Centre. The Board are keen that as many members as possible are able to attend this session. If you are interested in becoming a trainer and would like to learn more about the Stop Torture Campaign, you may be interested in attending. Please contact sct@amnesty.org.uk for more information.

Board Sub-Committees

The Board is looking for members to join the Activism, Finance and International Issues Sub-Committees. Do please think about applying and contributing to their important work.

Find out more about sub-committee vacancies.

Finally, thank you for all you are doing for Amnesty and I wish you all the best for the campaigning work you will be doing over the coming months.

Best wishes
Sarah O’Grady
Chair, AIUK

Read previous Chair's letters