Text: Aktivism

Start a new Amnesty group

Forming an Amnesty group is neither particularly complicated nor difficult. Here is a brief description of the steps you need to go through to get started with your work.  

The process itself is simple - go through the list, make sure you understand what the group is doing, what rules/guidelines apply and what you need to do to register your new group. We also always recommend groups during the process to contact one of Amnesty’s activism coordinators to get support. Also, please feel free to support any experienced Amnesty member in your area to support you during your introductory phase. Call or email us and we will help you! Phone-number l 08-729 02 00, email: aktivistgruppen@amnesty.se

1. What questions are Amnesty working with? 

Before proceeding to form the group, make sure to look through the issues that Amnesty is working on. It is important to know about Amnesty’s overall commitment and that you can explain what issues we work with if you get questions. However, it should be emphasized that Amnesty’s work is campaign-driven, and that we usually focus on two or three issues at a time. Therefore, do not worry if you do not fully master all the issues we work with, but start working and getting into our questions one by one.  

2. What does an Amnesty Group do? 

Amnesty groups can be different sizes and work in different ways, but the overall task are common to all groups:  

  1. To exert pressure on holders of power. Every year, amnesty members across the world write millions of letters to kings, presidents, ministers, and other rulers demanding respect for human rights. Amnesty also works with lobbying against, for example, embassies or intergovernmental bodies such as the UN and the EU.  
  2. To spread information about human rights. There are a lot of ways to reach out with Amnesty’s message on human rights. You can give lectures in school classes, hand out flyers, put up posters, write letter to the editor, conduct street activities, arrange lectures and seminars etc.  You decide in your group what kind of work that is right for you.
  3. To recruit members. The own members account for a large part of Amnesty’s income, so of course membership recruitment is an important task. An important part of your groups’ work is to find new active members for your own group..
  4. To raise money. Even when it comes to fundraising, there are many ways to do it. You can walk around town with a collection box or ask stores to have an Amnesty box at check out. One can also arrange concerts and flea markets or recruit friends and acquaintances as contributors to your Amnesty group. 

It is your group that decide what you want to work with. Amnesty local sectors are largely based on the members’ own ideas, knowledge and interests, although of course you also receive suggestions and instructions from the central point of Amnesty. There is also a lot of support you can get, through this Aktivistportalen, by attending lectures and through contact with other Amnesty members, the secretariat in Stockholm or our district officers in Gothenburg and Malmö. In other words, there is always someone to turn to if you feel unsure or need help with something. 

3. How does the group get their information?

Every month, all group receive Insats, which contains information and instructions,  invitations to participate campaigns and actions, summons to meetings or lectures for active members, as well as other up-to-do information on what is going on within Amnesty. Insats is sent in pdf format via email, normally the first Wednesday of each month, but you can also always find Insats here on Aktivistportalen.

4. Work material

Amnesty has several different types of materials, which suit different types of groups. Look through the compilation and discuss what is right for your group. There is customized material for each campaign which you can find in each description of the campaigns.

5. The formal structure of the group

Amnesty’s groups tend to have the nature of friendships rather than formal structures. But like all organizations, Amnesty also has some guidelines that clarifies who is responsible for our work, ensures that the work is conducted in an open and democratic manner, and ensures that there are functions for reviewing and controlling our operations and our finances. Therefore, when you form your group, you should look through the formal rules and make sure that you are aware of the requirements that will be imposed on your group.  

6. Membership

As a member of an Amnesty group, you should also be a member of the Swedish section of amnesty (or any other Amnesty section). This is a requirement that is in Amnesty’s statues, and it also highly reasonable that you are a member of an organization that you actively represent. The membership fee (SEK20/month) should be the only cost that you personally have as an active member of Amnesty. For young people under 18, membership is free. 

The group’ operational expenses shall be taken cared of  by the operating grants - not by its members. 

7. Registration

Once you are familiar with how Amnesty work and have appointed a contact person (group secretary), you can start the group. Contact your activism coordinator, and you will get group number and can start your work as a local part of Amnesty International.