Canada: Comments with respect to Amnesty International’s International Secretariat Staff Well-being Review
A report on staff well-being at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International was released on January 31, 2019. The report had been commissioned by the movement’s previous international Secretary General in the wake of the tragic suicides of Amnesty International colleagues Gaëtan Mootoo and Rosalind McGregor in May and July of 2018.
In the words of our current global Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, the findings in the report are deeply troubling, particularly to hear employees “speak of a culture of secrecy and mistrust where discrimination, bullying and abuse of power have been condoned.”
In responding to the report Kumi Naidoo has committed to moving Amnesty International’s organizational culture “towards more compassion and respect” as a priority. Under his leadership, and in consultation with staff at the International Secretariat, an implementation plan is being developed as a matter of urgency, to be presented by the end of March 2019.
The report looks at longstanding shortcomings at our international office, which deepened during the recent very important process of transitioning that office, historically centralized in London, to a number of regionally-based offices around the world. It is, however, also being taken very seriously by national sections of Amnesty International everywhere, including Amnesty International Canada. We will ensure that any relevant lessons learned and associated recommendations are taken up at our level as well, in the context of our regular employee engagement reviews and other staff well-being processes. This report from our international office underscores why that must be a top priority and must always be accompanied by concrete and deliberate measures.
Amnesty International cares deeply for the well-being and rights of individuals and communities with whom we work. This international report underscores how crucial our responsibility is for the well-being and rights of the individuals who carry out that work, and the enormous cost of not swiftly and adequately addressing concerns that arise.
As Kumi Naidoo has noted, “with the increasing pressure on human rights defenders globally, Amnesty International needs to be stronger and more effective than it has ever been, and our resolve and fortitude must start from within … staff wellbeing is now our absolute priority and will be at the heart of everything we do.”
Read more on Amnesty’s global website: Independent reviews into tragic loss of Rosalind McGregor and staff wellbeing at Amnesty International.