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Chair's Letter - October 2013

Dear AIUK activists,

AIUK Restructuring

As mentioned in my last update, the implementation of the restructure had been delayed until September. This was because it was decided at the AGM that we should wait to see if any International Council Meeting Decisions affected our short-term financial position. None did and so the restructuring of AIUK started in September.

The Board is acutely aware that this is a very difficult time for staff – those who are leaving, those who remain and those who continue to experience uncertainty. We also know that we are losing excellent staff. We are very grateful to them for all they have contributed to AIUK and for the great work that the staff continue to carry out during difficult times.

Twenty requests for voluntary redundancy have been agreed. A number of staff are currently under notice but, as it is hoped that roles will be found for most of them in the new structure, we are optimistic that there will very few compulsory redundancies. I want to assure you that AIUK has long-established, good redundancy terms, as is appropriate for our organisation, which are being met.

International Council Meeting

The full list of ICM decisions, including the ones proposed by the York Group (through its resolution to our AGM on sporting organisations and human rights) and the Board’s resolution on restricted giving, are available at the bottom of the page

AIUK’s delegation has also produced a report, which is also available below. Because both documents are restricted to Amnesty members, they are password protected. AIUK’s Supporter Care Team can provide you with the password. Please contact them on 

In addition, we are also attending various activist meetings including Regional Conferences and network meetings, such as the Country Coordinators Conference. We want to share with as many of you as possible what happened at the ICM in Berlin, to give you the opportunity to ask questions and hear your comments. Do please read the documents and come along to a meeting. 

Governance Day and Board Meeting

Reporting back on the International Council was a significant part of our annual governance day on Saturday 21 September. This brought together the Board and the members of its sub-committees (and, this year, some members of the Governance Task Force) to assess AIUK’s current situation and help identify priorities for section governance over the next year or two.

After the Governance Day concluded, the Board held a short meeting to, amongst other things, receive updates on the restructure and on the progress in implementing AGM Decisions. Minutes of both meetings are being produced and will be available shortly.

A full meeting of the Governance Task Force took place on 12 October. Those of you who saw the update from the Chair, Sheila Banks, after the first meeting will recall that the Task Force divided into sub-groups to progress its formidable task. Saturday's meeting brought together the sub-groups to discuss their initial work and agree next steps.  Sheila will be reporting on this in due course. As a member of the Task Force, I am seeing first-hand their careful, constructive thoughts and dedication to the work. I am grateful to them and looking forward to discussing the insights and recommendations further.

The Treasurer, Cris Burson-Thomas, and the Finance Team have produced the first quarterly report on AIUK finances, as requested at last April’s AGM. This is available at the bottom of the page. We think that it is a good clear document which will make such matters more transparent, but we’d be grateful for your feedback. The second report will be available shortly.

Interested in becoming a Trustee?

AIUK’s Charitable Trust is looking for individuals to serve as trustees. These are positions reserved for individuals who are not on the Board (of the Section). The Trust has a key role in the payment of AIUK’s contribution to the global movement as well as other matters. 

We would encourage leading activists with a detailed knowledge of Amnesty’s governance to consider applying for the role. The closing date for applications is now Monday 26th October 2013 (at midday) to enable those of you who might only hear via this Update time to apply. Please do share details of these positions with your networks. 

Human Rights

All of us know that whilst there is plenty of hope in the world, there is also far too much suffering and inhumanity. We were appalled as events unfolded in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. Amongst those killed was the Ghanaian poet and former diplomat Dr Kofi Awoonor. Some of you may have campaigned on his politically-motivated trial in the 1970s. Many others were killed, injured or traumatised. We echo Salil Shetty’s words, that these were callous and despicable acts that have touched people far beyond Kenya.

At home, AIUK joined forces with the International Secretariat and victims’ families as we launched a major new report on dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s conflict. In short, too many victims and their families – from across the whole community – have been failed by the inadequate processes for dealing with the past. One family told us that “there are still a lot of broken hearts in Northern Ireland; families who need to know what happened and who need help to get that truth”. Amnesty aims to provide that help, by campaigning for processes that will enable victims, their families and Northern Ireland as a whole to escape the shadow of the past.

On the other side of the Atlantic, we are pleased that the USA has signed the international Arms Trade Treaty. Whilst signature of the treaty will not necessarily lead quickly to its ratification, this is a very significant and welcome step.

…and finally...

I am deeply honoured that at the last Board meeting, my colleagues on the Board chose me to be their Chair. I am inspired and humbled as I think of what this means and shall serve AIUK to the best of my abilities.

I am pleased to inform you that Hannah Perry was chosen as Vice-Chair and I am looking forward to working with Hannah and the rest of the Board in carrying out the tasks ahead.

Finally, I am deeply conscious of the shoes I am stepping into and would like to thank Ciarnan Helferty again for all that he has contributed to Amnesty International so far and in particular for the time when I worked with him as his Vice-Chair.

With best wishes,

Sarah O’ Grady
Chair, AIUK



ICM 2013 AIUK delegation report
Circular 29 Org530062013 ICM decisions 2013
AIUK financial report to members - 2013 second quarter