Schultz-Jagow makes no apology for the reorganization, saying that Amnesty has to adapt — though he noted with regret that some staff members will likely be forced to leave. In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, he argued that the complexity of human rights violations has increased and the organization needs to move with the times.
"The main driver for this is our belief that we need to be based and operate much closer to where human rights violations take place," he said.
Meanwhile, other organizations have moved into territory where Amnesty once enjoyed exclusivity. Human Rights Watch, for example, with its critical reports, has steadily gained in influence and has the backing of wealthy philanthropist and financier George Soros.
While Amnesty has its issues, they are not alone among human rights groups in the struggle to adapt.
Alexander Cooley, chairman of the Department of Political Science at Barnard College in New York, said in a statement that two significant pressures are currently besetting several international advocacy groups: funding and global restructuring.
"Transnational groups such as Amnesty are now strategizing how to best expand their global coverage in order to remain relevant to evolving human rights challenges, though this is usually being done without an ... increase in resources," he wrote. "Across the world of foundations and NGOs, the trend is away from centralization and towards more experimentation at the regional and local levels. Whether this will lead to more effective advocacy practice remains an open question."
Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans contributed to this story.
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