Avaaz Highlights
Highlights from a 4.9 million-strong people-powered global movement, launched January 2007
Avaaz has a simple, democratic mission: close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.
The challenges are massive -- but together, bit by bit, we are changing the world.
See below for some highlights from Avaaz campaigns so far.

(Click here for media coverage of Avaaz campaigns or for more information about Avaaz)



Save the oceans - A huge win! The UK announced its plan to double the total global area of protected ocean with a massive new conservation zone bigger than Germany and Italy combined (April 2010). In the public comment period before the decision, Avaaz members contributed more than 85% of the responses, urging a ban on commercial fishing and support for the island peoples' rights. 

The UK Foreign Ministry cited the "over 221,000 responses co-ordinated by Avaaz... from 223 countries" in its announcement.

It is a major step forward, but continued pressure is needed to ensure a just outcome for Chagossian Islanders and Mauritius -- and to further protect oceans from overfishing. 

Elephants - With elephants at risk, 500,000 of us worldwide empowered the African Elephant Coalition with our support -- and, after a nail-biting close vote and final push with partners on the ground, won protection for elephants at a UN Endangered Species session (March 2010).

The head of the Species Survival Network said “the petition, no doubt, made a difference and helped achieve the right result for elephants everywhere."

Brazilian rainforest - On the cusp of a critical decision moment in June 2009, Avaaz members in Brazil made 14,000 phone calls and sent 30,000 online messages in two days to President Lula's office.

In the 11th hour, public pressure successfully reversed a law that would hand over much of the Amazon rainforest to agribusiness for exploitation (June 2009). A major victory for Brazil, and for the planet since the Amazon consumes enormous amounts of the greenhouse gasses that are warming the climate. (For more climate campaign updates, click here.)


Emergency food distribution by Avaaz partners in temporary camps in Mariani.  
Stand with Haiti - Thousands of us contributed more than US$1.3 million for relief and recovery from the Haitian earthquake (Jan 2010), helping outstanding local organisations provide life-saving food shelter and medical care.

We went on to petition for debt cancelation powering a global push that secured $1 billion debt relief for Haiti.

Watch the amazing video on our impact.


Copenhagen climate summit (Dec. 2009) - Leaders didn't make history - but the world's people did. A year of unprecedented action on climate change reached unimagined heights -- with thousands of vigils, rallies and protests, hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and millions of petition signatures.

While politicians failed to deliver a desperately needed deal to stop runaway climate change, people built a movement that can win the fight to save our planet. Click to see the pictures, videos, and messages from around the world after the summit -- and stay tuned to Avaaz for more climate campaigns this year!

Wake-up call - On 21 September 2009, at more than 2600 events in 135 countries across the globe, we joined together to issue a deafening wake-up call to world leaders on climate change. Breathtaking creativity and diversity from Avaaz members and partners was covered by hundreds of major news outlets and conveyed our message to world leaders. Words can't describe it -- this video gets close.

Petitions - Since the climate campaign kicked off in 2007, Avaaz has delivered millions of climate petition signatures to key leaders including the environment ministers of all the G8 countries and leaders in Brazil, Germany and Japan.

Giant postcards inviting world leaders to attend the climate summit were handed over to the British Prime Minister at the 2009 G8 summit in L'Aquila (see the Channel 4 News report). And there were extraordinary scenes in Copenhagen as youth from around the world delivered a petition organised by Avaaz and partners in the TckTckTck coalition -- reading out loud the names of 15 million people demanding a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal.

Press ads - Funded by thousands of small donations, high-profile media campaigns amplified the world's call to action on climate. A full-page "Cli-Matrix" advert in the Financial Times delivered to delegates at the Copenhagen climate summit portrayed world leaders as film heroes and exhorted them to "fund the fight to save the world."

During the Hokkaido G8 summit (2008) a satire ad using the Hello Kitty cartoon character, targeting Canada, Japan, and the US, was reported by the New York Times, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Nikkei Business Daily, and in other outlets worldwide.

At the height of the 2007 UN climate negotiations in Bali, a full-page Avaaz advert in the Jakarta Post was waved at a pivotal Japanese cabinet meeting: According to Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the Environment Minister held up the ad and asked the Prime Minister, "are we letting the world see Japan as blocking targets for 2020?"

During the same summit, one of the largest online actions in Canadian history and a national ad campaign prompted a U-turn towards targets for cutting dangerous planet-warming emissions. Canada's opposition leader filmed a special message in response exclaiming "Avaaz members, reversing the bad policy of a government, this is great... join Avaaz, because it works."

TV ads - In 2009, at the height of fossil fuel company lobbying to prevent a strong global climate treaty, Avaaz members funded an advertisement on Washington DC television spoofing ExxonMobil's disingenuous environmental adverts, triggering a response from the company. Back in January 2007, when many leaders refused to recognize the threat of catastrophic climate change, Avaaz's "climate wake-up call" TV ad launched on four continents helped bring the message home.

And more
Throughout, Avaaz has worked closely with partners including Oxfam, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Climate Action Network, the Global Call to Action against Poverty.



Uprising - When monks and democracy protesters filled the streets of Burma in October 2007, Avaaz members rose in support of them worldwide.

More than 800,000 members from every country on earth signed a petition urging China and the UN Security Council to oppose the violent crackdown and support genuine dialogue and reconciliation, a message publicly delivered to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and sent through diplomatic channels and newspaper ads to Chinese officials.

Targeting the Burmese military junta, thousands of Avaaz members in Europe successfully pressed for stronger EU sanctions, more than 2000 members in Singapore sent messages to their foreign minister urging a stronger stance, and 50,000 pledged to boycott Chevron and Total Oil for doing business with the regime.

When the junta banned cameras, cell phones, and internet connections as part of its crackdown, Avaaz members donated US $320,000 to provide technical support and training to the democracy movement -- funds distributed within the country by Avaaz partners at the Open Society Institute.

Avaaz sent a mission to the Thai-Burma border to meet with key democratic leaders and ensure the wise use of member support.
Click here for more about Avaaz democracy campaigning in Burma.

Burma cyclone relief - When Cyclone Nargis struck in May 2008, killing as many as 200,000 people, Avaaz contacted its friends in monk networks to see how best to help.

The head of the International Burmese Monk Organization recorded a video appeal to Avaaz members. In just ten days, more than 25,000 people from 125 countries donated US$ 2 million to support the monks' relief efforts -- bypassing the junta's blockade on international aid workers and getting medicine, food, and other emergency supplies for distribution by civil society to those who needed it most.

As Slate.com later wrote, "while the world was focused on the military junta's reluctance to allow foreign aid, Burmese citizens and monks were busy carrying out relief efforts that many now credit with preventing mass starvation."

By giving directly to these existing networks in the country, Avaaz members, who donated more than most world governments in the critical period immediately following the cyclone, played a crucial role in supporting these activities.


Dialogue with the Dalai Lama - Sparked by China's violent crackdown on the March '08 protests and riots in Tibet, Avaaz members built the largest global online petition to date -- a call for meaningful dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama that reached 1.5 million signatures in three weeks.

The petition was delivered privately to Chinese officials and publicly in an 84-city global Day of Action, coordinated with Tibet advocacy groups around the globe. Following the outcry, China restarted talks with the Dalai Lama -- reportedly in response to international pressure.

Within China, however, the global protests and media attention fuelled a nationalist backlash, with state media and public opinion denouncing the pro-Tibet sentiment as "anti-Chinese" efforts to undermine the Olympics. In response, Avaaz launched a bid to "Save the Olympics" , raising US $150,000 to fund online outreach by a Mandarin-language team and deliberative ads in Chinese diaspora publications.

Give peace a hand- Avaaz also organised a global handshake, with more than 2,000 Avaaz members in "One China" t-shirts forming a human handshake chain from the Dalai Lama to the Chinese Embassy in London -- a tangible gesture of goodwill that culminated in a rally with a moment of silence for victims of the Sichuan earthquake. Thousands of Avaaz members joined online lighting virtual candles for earthquake survivors and donating for tents and other emergency supplies.


Brazil anti-corruption - Brazilians took a giant leap against political corruption by building the largest internet movement in Brazilian history. Calls for Lei Ficha Limpa (clean record law) became the top trending topic on Twitter (April 2010) and Avaaz members pushed the number of petition signatures to over 2 million propelling to a vote landmark legislation banning individuals convicted of serious crimes from standing for public office.

Ahead of the critical vote, Avaaz members ramped up pressure on Congress representatives to support Lei Ficha Limpa, sending tens of thousands of messages and making thousands of phone calls. Avaaz also organised "Clean up Congress" street theatre with buckets soap and water attracting extensive media coverage including Brazil's most watched news programme.

Despite repeated warnings from the President of the House that there may not be enough political support, in May 2010 the Senate voted unanimously to pass the anti-corruption law.

"A victory for internet users" tweeted a key Senator after the vote. "A spectacular political and moral victory for civil society" and "an impressive and unprecedented petition" reported France's Le Monde.

On 4 June the President Lula da Silva gave his endorsement. And on 10 June, after a final call-in campaign and intense lobbying by Avaaz partners the Movimento de Combate à Corrupção Eleitoral, Brazil's Supreme Electoral Tribunal voted 6 to 1 to bring the law into effect before nationwide elections in October 2010.

Thanks to this victory, dozens of corrupt candidates will be barred from the elections this fall. An incredible success bringing closer the dream of politics without corruption.


Uganda - In an unprecedented show of public opposition to the proposed law that would sentence gay Ugandans to death, Avaaz worked with church leaders and human rights activists to deliver a 450,000-strong petition to the Speaker of Uganda's parliament in an hour-long meeting and a press conference that made national and global headlines including Daily Monitor, BBC and VOA.

Parliament had been expected to debate the bill in February 2010 in the face of local and global pressure, formal discussion still hasn't begun. Some say the bill may be left to die in committee, potentially a quiet but extraordinary victory for human rights. Avaaz continues to work closely with allies to monitor the bill -- and stands ready to take action once more if it regains momentum.

United States and torture - Inspired by sustained support for an end to torture from the world community and a clear majority of Americans Avaaz mounted a metro billboard ad campaign in Washington DC (Sept. 2009). Backed by thousands of donations from Avaaz members worldwide, the ads reminded policymakers that torture is illegal, unethical and a top recruiting tool for the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.

Our edgy message was picked up by world media including the Washington Post and Der Spiegel and set the U.S. capital buzzing with our call to close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay.


Zimbabwe - Prompted by appeals from members in the region following the March 2008 elections, Avaaz launched a Zimbabwe democracy and human rights campaign. President Robert Mugabe made no secret of his hostility to international opinion, so Avaaz sought to pressure South African president Thabo Mbeki, a key Mugabe ally and mediator between Mugabe and the opposition.

As Mbeki chaired a UN Security Council Session (where he refused to discuss Zimbabwe), over 150,000 Avaaz members signed a petition and Avaaz flew a 3000 square foot banner over United Nations headquarters in New York with the message "Mbeki Time to Act: Democracy for Zimbabwe."

Extensive media coverage in South Africa, and worldwide including BBC, CNN, Reuters, AP, and AFP, helped ensure the message reached decision makers. The next day, for the first time, Mbeki's spokesperson called for an immediate release of the election results.

Over the following weeks, Avaaz led and joined a range of actions to support democracy and Zimbabwean civil society groups.

When South African dockworkers refused to unload a Chinese arms shipment bound for Zimbabwe, Avaaz coordinated with Southern African labor unions
and the Control Arms coalition to track the shipment, connect regional groups, and rally international support for the union-led resistance. Ultimately, finding no port willing to unload the arms, China recalled the ship.

Avaaz also launched a rapid-response effort to alert members worldwide to specific human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, resulting in a flood of messages to Zimbabwean embassies and consulates -- a demonstration that the world is watching.

Following Mugabe's sham victory in the June 2008 run-offs, more than 2,500 African Avaaz members contacted their governments and urged African Union member states to withhold recognition from Mugabe's regime. Avaaz amplified this message with a full-page ad in the Financial Times, calling for world leaders to isolate Zimbabwe. Avaaz members worldwide reinforced this message by calling on their foreign ministers, not to recognise the sham election and to support meaningful talks.

Following months of violence and political turmoil, Mugabe finally signed a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September 2008. In February 2009, Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister. But Zimbabwe's troubles have not ended, and Avaaz remains on alert.



UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon receives Avaaz food crisis petition from Sam Sesay, Sierra Leone's agriculture minister, and Avaaz's Ricken Patel  
Global food crisis - With food prices soaring, Sierra Leonean foreign minister Zainab Bangura recorded a video appeal to Avaaz members asking for help in pressing their governments to action. More than 360,000 members responded, signing an online petition that was delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at an emergency food summit in Rome. Bowing to global pressure, donor governments pledged billions in emergency food aid and joined a process to reconsider agricultural policy. More than 60,000 Avaaz members also sent messages to their governments urging sustainability standards for biofuels that would end the practices of burning food as fuel and of displacing food crops to make room for fuel crops. This July, the G8 pledged to "ensure the compatibility of policies for the sustainable production and use of biofuels with food security" -- but more pressure is needed to make this pledge a reality.

Swine flu and factory farms - Avaaz brought a herd of 225 cardboard pigs to the World Health Organization, representing the 225,000 signatures on a petition for research into the possible role of factory farming in breeding the H1N1 flu virus. A WHO scientist told Avaaz that the research was needed -- but that the industrial meat lobby would continue blocking it unless citizen groups like Avaaz kept up the pressure. click here to see photos and read the story.


Israel and Palestine - A peaceful, just, two-state solution in Israel and Palestine -- and respect for human rights on both sides -- has the support of public opinion and Avaaz members in Israel, Palestine and around the world. To support these goals, Avaaz has run extensive local, regional, and global campaigns -- launched by the "Stop the Clash of Civilizations" video in March 2007.

Viewed more than 2.5 million times across nine different language versions, Stop the Clash was voted YouTube's Political Video of the Year for 2007and has been televised around the world.

Stop settlements - In March 2010, Israeli PM Netanyahu derailed U.S-led peace talks by announcing plans to build more housing settlements in occupied Palestinian land. Avaaz responded by demonstrating public support for a firm stance against settlement construction, and for a just two-state solution in pursuit of peace for Israel and Palestine. An Avaaz opinion poll and awesome viral video (left) helped bolster President Obama's position ahead of a crucial meeting between the two heads of state.

Dressed as settlement buildings, Avaaz activists rallied outside a Netanyahu speaking engagement in Washington DC brandishing the ironic slogan "Build Settlements, Wreck Peace" and generating significant media attention -- in the US, Russia (watch video) and Germany . "Most Americans support Israel, support peace and they support Obama on peace in Israel," said Avaaz in an interview with National Public Radio. "Every time a settlement goes up, the hopes for peace go down."

Peace ads - Avaaz members funded innovative billboard campaigns in Jerusalem and newspaper ad campaigns in major Israeli and Palestinian papers, and delivered petitions urging peace talks, an end to the blockade on humanitarian aid to Gaza, and a ceasefire with Hamas to key decision-makers in Israel and around the world. Avaaz's ceasefire ad campaign was seen by an estimated 1 million Israelis in the months leading to a ceasefire in the Gaza strip on 19 June, 2008.

Iraq - The very first Avaaz campaign in January 2007 brought flags and huge banners representing 87,000 "virtual marchers" against military escalation in Iraq to a peaceful protest in Washington, DC.

Avaaz also placed a full-page ad opposing the escalation in Washington's Congressional newspaper, and, in consultation with local members and international experts, developed a "NEW" plan to end the war: all-party Negotiations, with Empowered international mediators, and Withdrawal of US troops on a timeline matching the Iraqi people's wishes. Endorsed by 150,000 people worldwide, the NEW plan was delivered to key Iraqi, regional, and international leaders in May 2007.

Avaaz has also worked with Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish parliamentarians to build an international campaign supporting Iraq's right to determine the future of its oil reserves -- rather than accept the dictates of outside governments and corporations.

Banning Cluster Munitions - As world leaders met in Dublin, Ireland for final negotiations on an international ban on cluster munitions, cluster-bomb survivor Branislav Kapetanovic sent a video appeal to Avaaz members prompting 164,272 email messages to government leaders urging a strong ban free of loopholes and delays.

The government of Finland, which opposed a complete ban, received 50,000 messages from Avaaz members -- sparking news coverage there and around the world.

When more than 100 nations signed a strong treaty, advocates at the talks told Avaaz that Avaaz members had made a difference -- and that governments were taken aback by the citizen outcry. The campaign to ratify and extend the treaty continues.




A few more highlights...
  • a drive for a million-signature Citizen's Initiative in the EU for a moratorium and independent testing and regulation of Genetically Modified crops.
  • almost $700,000 raised for an intensive, long-term campaign to fight the "rape trade"--the sexual enslavement of women and girls around the world
  • strong backing for indigenous communities petitioning Chevron's new CEO to clean up his company's toxic legacy in the Amazon.
  • support for a democratic resolution to the January 2008 election crisis in Kenya -- tens of thousands of Avaaz members asked their foreign ministers to refuse to recognize any President until Kofi Annan's negations could produce an acceptable compromise.
  • worldwide pressure for democratic rights in Pakistan during the November 2007 crisis, and an ad campaign in Pakistan calling for President Musharraf to end the state of emergency.
  • a global call for a WTO ruling to ban subsidies for dangerous corporate overfishing of the world's oceans, in which Avaaz members sent tens of thousands of messages to their trade ministers.
  • an effort to increase transparency in the UN's selection of the next High Commissioner for Human Rights that made international headlines through a blog and a fake job advertisement in The Economist.
  • a petition, rally, and protest video supporting efforts to oust Paul Wolfowitz from the World Bank after the May 2007 corruption scandal
  • a call for regional governments to increase aid donations to help Mexico cope with flooding in November 2007
  • co-hosting, with Chatham House, David Miliband's first speech as UK Foreign Secretary -- and bringing him questions from Avaaz members around the world. (Read his answers here.)
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