Amnesty International will be increasing its presence in the global south, and in the BRIC (Brazil, India, China and Russia). This is a long term plan that will allow Amnesty to ‘move closer to the ground’. It is hoped that this will allow the movement to better respond to local circumstances.
But why ‘growth’? Increasing presence for the sake of it is not the purpose here. Growth is increasing our human rights impact. Therefore in pursuing moving closer to the ground we must be sensitive to local circumstances. A perfect example of what this new direction could entail was highlighted by Mr Brima A. Sheriff, Director of Amnesty International Sierra Leone.
In Sierra Leone, Amnesty has developed the concept of an ‘Amnesty Village.’ Amnesty International works with villages, in particular the local elders to discuss the concept of human rights. Staff attend village meetings on a regular basis to have conversations and share stories. As a result a shared community human rights conscience has been developed.
Elders have become more aware of what constitutes human rights and in turn what is a human rights breach. This approach has lead elders to change the way they interact with their children and their wives.
We can see that innovative ways of growing the movement are required to ensure that growth for the sake of human rights impact is realised. Moreover this approach has been innovative in that it made a concerted effort to raise awareness and engage with human rights abuse perpetrators.
Although concepts such as ‘Amnesty Village’ remain in their infancy, these early results are exciting. They truly reflect the potential human rights impact we can have when we look at growth outside of its traditional context.