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Many organizations list international petitions as a way to influence decisions by governments. Amnesty International's German site explicitly states that such "urgent actions" are an effective way to save lives. As evidence, they state that for 35% of urgent actions run in 2007, positive results have been achieved; however, there is no indication of whether those positive results were a consequence of the actions, or would have occurred anyway.

Is there any evidence on whether international petitions, either on-line or in written form, have an influence on government decision-making?

I would like to point out cases that might be special in that the petitioner has an obvious influence on the decision-maker. This might be because he is a voter writing to his own government (explicitly or implicitly threatening note to re-elect it unless it does what he wants); or because he is in a position to make other threats (e.g. of attacks such as in the recent The Interview events). I am interested in other cases: Can I, as a non-citizen, influence decisions made by the governments of Iran, Russia or the US?

  • Which petitions, in which context, in which country, in which historical period, with what means of communication? Why are you assuming that all petitions are similar enough to run a statistic? E.g. I might concur that German "urgent actions" are similar enough, but it wouldn't make any sense to compare those with different initiatives. Even then, every petition has an intrinsic value as well. A petition to paint all roads pink is probably less likely to be heeded than one which makes a less ridiculous request. – Sklivvz Jan 22 '15 at 13:02
  • @Sklivvz I think I specified the means of communication ("on-line or in written form"), and I don't really know how different historic periods would apply. Also, I think petitions which are made by non-citizens to foreign governments tend to be about a certain set of themes, mainly human rights and international issues, and are not likely to be about roads to be painted pink. I assume all such petitions are similar enough because I do not know of any reason to assume otherwise; if there are such reasons or data, I'm happy to settle for particular topics or countries. – P_S Jan 22 '15 at 13:22
  • @P_S, This is me reading the text of the question suuuper closely >.> It helps that the title is updated now. – Brian S Jan 22 '15 at 16:36
  • @Flimzy I explicitly exclude petitions by citizens to their own government in the title and in the question itself. – P_S Jan 22 '15 at 16:38
  • @Sklivvz If you have no other concerns about the question, could you put it off hold? – P_S Jan 25 '15 at 8:54

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