REQUESTS sections, structures and the International Executive Committee to apply the criterion of impartiality, among others, when working with the human Rights movement and “stakeholders” within the framework of the new international Integrated Strategic Plan for 2010-2016.

Explanatory note

This resolution reaffirms the principles of impartiality and democracy as part of the core values that should be included in Amnesty International’s Statutes.

Article 2 of the Amnesty International Statutes, under the heading “core values”, after stating that “Amnesty International forms a global community of human rights defenders”, includes democracy among its principles.

The close connection between democratic participation and human rights is reflected in the texts that inspire and are the basis of Amnesty International’s work, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself (article 21) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 25).

In this sense, the UN Human Rights Committee, when interpreting the sense of article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has pointed out that “Citizens also take part in the conduct of public affairs by exerting influence through public debate and dialogue with their representatives or through their capacity to organize themselves. This participation is supported by ensuring freedom of expression, assembly and association” (General Comment No. 25, 1996, paragraph 8).

The importance of internal democracy as a core value of Amnesty International is especially esteemed by the activists within the organisation as a differentiating factor vis-à-vis other non-governmental organisations both when becoming members and when continuing as highly-motivated activists within our organisation.

This element has also been pointed out as one of the strong points in the organisation with respect to its accountability. Thus, in its 2006 “Global Accountability Report”, One World Trust pointed out that “Amnesty International’s accountability capabilities are strongest in relation to participation. They have well-developed policies and systems for engaging external stakeholders, specifically human rights organisations, in decision-making and fostering equitable member control”.

Also, impartiality, as is recognised in document POL30/020/2005 (Impartiality and Independence) drafted by the Policy Committee, has to do with matters such as AI not making distinctions between victims, not making distinctions between human rights and not making distinctions between perpetrators.  Even if the concept of impartiality within AI originally was connected to the context of Cold War and the division of the world in geopolitical blocks, we believe that these three principles related with impartiality are still very much valid in the current context. In fact, the principle of not making distinctions between perpetrators is crucial in the context of the build up of armed groups and AI’s growing work on the abuses perpetrated by such groups.

We also do not think that the new work contents that AI is now considering should imply renouncing to impartiality.  For example, the fact that AI may finally widen its work in the field of economic, social and cultural rights is not a reason that can -by itself- undermine AI’s impartiality (as is clearly recognised in the aforementioned document). Other matters in which AI has varied its position or amplified its field of work over the last years have also clearly tabled matters related with impartiality (the policy on sanctions, the position on the use of force, the framework of work on the own country), however this does not mean we have renounced to impartiality. And this was not the case even when AI’s mission was finally amplified at the 2007 ICM.

In fact, such changes promoted over the last few years reaffirm our conviction that impartiality should be maintained as a core value within AI and that changes and advances should go together with the corresponding provisions of the doctrinal or institutional safeguards (internal democracy, safeguards on economic matters, etc.) in order to protect our impartiality.

In the aforementioned document there is a specific mention of independence and impartiality in relation to AI’s work in alliances, pointing out that “AI needs to find a fairer balance between the need for it to be perceived that it supports certain important events that favour headway in terms of human rights, on one hand, and that it is still considered impartial and faithful to its own mission, on the other hand”. And it underlines that AI’s independence is based, among other matters, on the fact that “AI chooses who to associate with for action”.

The Spanish section understands that what AI is to reflect within its next ISP will be to work much more intensely with stakeholders and the human rights movement in general, and that AI proposes to contribute to the global strengthening of this movement does not imply the need to eliminate impartiality as a core value in AI, but all the contrary: in this new context of work with the human rights movement, impartiality should be a core of value to bear in mind when choosing who we ally with or who we are to contribute to reinforce.

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