Activism Guide – Spring 2020

Amnesty International is built on the idea that people coming together against injustice can be a game-changer! The sum of each of our actions creates a powerful force that has proven to be effective in igniting positive social change. Use this guide to take action this year, and check back frequently for updates and new actions!

  1. Share this guide with your group to become familiar with AIUSA’s key campaigns and programs, which all groups are asked to work on.
  2. Use the Key Activism Dates and Take Action sections for each human rights issue to help you build your action calendar.
  3. Let us know what you’re working on! We’ll make sure you have resources for each area and update you when new information or tools are available. If you need support in getting started with virtual activism, let us know.
  4. Get creative! The Activism Guide provides you with the basics, but we hope you’ll use it to put your stamp on our work. Let us know your plans and if you need any ideas or support.
Important Calendar Dates
  • April 22: Earth Day climate strike action
  • April 24: Global climate strike
  • May 1: May Day celebration for workers and immigrant rights
  • June: LGBTQ Pride Month
  • June 2: National Gun Violence Awareness Day (Wear Orange Day)
  • June 20: World Refugee Day



The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting all of us around the world. The virus is exacerbating already dire human rights situations, and has the potential to create a global human rights crisis. Amnesty International is working to ensure that all governments put human rights at the center of their response to the outbreak, and we are ramping up our response efforts to advocate for marginalized groups and those most at risk.

Although we remain distant from one another physically, there is much we can do to protect human rights in the time of COVID-19. The response to the virus must center human rights at all stages of the crisis – prevention, preparedness, containment, and treatment – in order to best protect public health and support people who are most at risk. The U.S. administration must act to protect the human rights of all people, including the right to health, as governmental authorities at the federal, state, tribal, and local level respond to the humanitarian and public health challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

AIUSA is responding in real time the intersection of human rights and the global health crisis, and developing actions related to gun violence, the rights of asylum seekers, violence against women, and other areas. All resources related to COVID-19 can be found on a dedicated page below.



Online actions are one way to take action virtually. Here are the key online actions related to AIUSA’s programmatic work that your group can build signatures for while you stay at home! For COVID-specific actions, visit the Distant But Together COVID landing page.

Criminal Justice Program

Gender, Sexuality & Identity Program

Individuals at Risk Program

Security with Human Rights Program 


Millions of people are already suffering from the catastrophic effects of extreme disasters exacerbated by climate change – from prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa to devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. During the summer months for the northern hemisphere in 2018, communities from the Arctic Circle to Greece, Japan, Pakistan and the USA experienced devastating heat waves and wildfires that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.

While we largely understand climate change through the impacts it will have on our natural world, it is the devastation that it is causing and will continue to cause for humanity that makes it an urgent human rights issue. It will compound and magnify existing inequalities. And its effects will continue to grow and worsen over time, creating ruin for current and future generations. This is why the failure of governments to act on climate change in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence may well be the biggest inter-generational human rights violation in history.

Amnesty is calling for governments to:

  • Do everything they can to help stop the global temperature rising by more than 1.5°C.
  • Reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest. Richer countries should do this faster. By 2030, global emissions must be half as much as they were in 2010.
  • Stop using fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) as quickly as possible.
  • Make sure that climate action is done in a way that does not violate anyone’s human rights, and reduces rather than increases inequality
  • Make sure everyone, in particularly those affected by climate change or the transition to a fossil-free economy, is properly informed about what is happening and is able to participate in decisions about their futures.
  • Work together to fairly share the burden of climate change – richer countries must help others.
What you can do

Share the Climate Crisis page with your group and learn about how this issue is connected to human rights. You can host a discussion using Zoom or another format (let us know if you need a link to use with your group). Then, take action on Earth Day (April 22) and April 24 as part of a global virtual action for climate justice! Although we can’t take to the streets in a massive climate action, we will continue to demonstrate public momentum on this issue. You can post messages to social media using the hashtags #ClimateStrikeOnline and #DigitalStrike, post signs in your windows for passersby to see. If you don’t already, follow climate justice organizations and movements in your community and see how they are taking to the virtual streets for the global strike.

Resources available

Climate Crisis landing page


The charged atmosphere of a presidential election brings with it unique challenges and opportunities for human rights organizations like Amnesty International. The office of the President of the United States has the capacity for enormous human rights impact, both positive and negative. Amnesty International does not take a position on which candidate should be the next President, but we do believe that the next U.S. President must protect and advance human rights here at home and around the world.

Amnesty International believes that human rights are not a “Democratic thing” or a “Republican thing.” They are universal and binding obligations that we expect any administration to prioritize in its foreign and domestic policy. Over the next 16 months, Amnesty activists can raise the profile of human rights in public discourse, while keeping out of the partisan politics of election campaigns.

The 2020 Elections Toolkit will provide:

  • Clear guidelines on what Amnesty representatives (including AIUSA local and student groups) can and cannot do in relation to the 2020 elections.
  • Resource materials
  • Action ideas for raising human rights during this election season

COVID-19 Crisis: Help now