Amnesty International

Amnesty International

Overview
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

 whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuse
Abuse
Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime, or otherwise...

s of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, and to demand justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

  for those whose rights have been violated."

Following a publication of Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson was an English lawyer and the founder of human rights group Amnesty International . In 2001, Benenson received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement.-Biography:...

's article "The Forgotten Prisoners
The Forgotten Prisoners
"The Forgotten Prisoners" is an article by Peter Benenson published in The Observer on 28 May 1961 citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 18 and 19, announcing the campaign "Appeal for Amnesty, 1961" and calling for "common action"...

" in The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

 28 May 1961, Amnesty was founded in London the same year. Amnesty draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance with international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

s and standards.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Amnesty International'
Start a new discussion about 'Amnesty International'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

 whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuse
Abuse
Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime, or otherwise...

s of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, and to demand justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

  for those whose rights have been violated."

Following a publication of Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson was an English lawyer and the founder of human rights group Amnesty International . In 2001, Benenson received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement.-Biography:...

's article "The Forgotten Prisoners
The Forgotten Prisoners
"The Forgotten Prisoners" is an article by Peter Benenson published in The Observer on 28 May 1961 citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 18 and 19, announcing the campaign "Appeal for Amnesty, 1961" and calling for "common action"...

" in The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

 28 May 1961, Amnesty was founded in London the same year. Amnesty draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance with international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

s and standards. It works to mobilise public opinion
Public opinion
Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views....

 to put pressure on governments that let abuse take place. The organisation was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 for its "campaign against torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

", and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights
United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights
The United Nations Prizes in the Field of Human Rights were instituted by United Nations General Assembly in 1966.They are intended to "honour and commend people and organizations which have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights embodied in the...

 in 1978.

In the field of international human rights organisations (of which there were 300 in 1996), Amnesty has the longest history and broadest name recognition, and "is believed by many to set standards for the movement as a whole."

1960s


Amnesty International was founded in London in July 1961 by English labour lawyer Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson was an English lawyer and the founder of human rights group Amnesty International . In 2001, Benenson received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement.-Biography:...

. According to his own account, he was travelling in the London Underground
London Underground
The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

 on 19 November 1960, when he read of two Portuguese students from Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...

 who had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in Portugal for allegedly "having drunk a toast to liberty". Researchers have never traced the alleged newspaper article in question. In 1960, Portugal was ruled by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. Anti-regime conspiracies were vigorously repressed by the Portuguese state police and deemed anti-Portuguese. In his significant newspaper article "The Forgotten Prisoners
The Forgotten Prisoners
"The Forgotten Prisoners" is an article by Peter Benenson published in The Observer on 28 May 1961 citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 18 and 19, announcing the campaign "Appeal for Amnesty, 1961" and calling for "common action"...

", Benenson later described his reaction as follows: "Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a story from somewhere of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government [...] The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust could be united into common action, something effective could be done."

Benenson worked with friend Eric Baker
Eric Baker (activist)
Eric Baker was a British activist and one of the founders of the human rights group Amnesty International, and the second general secretary of the organization...

. Baker was a member of the Religious Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 who had been involved in funding the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is an anti-nuclear organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

 as well as becoming head of Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Quaker Peace and Social Witness
Quaker Peace & Social Witness , previously known as the Friends Service Council, and then as Quaker Peace and Service, is one of the central committees of Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends - the national organisation of Quakers in Britain. It works to promote British...

, and in his memoirs Benenson described him as "a partner in the launching of the project". In consultation with other writers, academics and lawyers and, in particular, Alec Digges, they wrote via Louis Blom-Cooper
Louis Blom-Cooper
Sir Louis Jacques Blom-Cooper QC FKC is an author and UK lawyer specialising in public law and administrative law.-Education:...

 to David Astor
David Astor
Francis David Langhorne Astor CH was an English newspaper publisher and member of the Astor family.-Early life and career:...

, editor of The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

 newspaper, who, on 28 May 1961, published Benenson’s article "The Forgotten Prisoners
The Forgotten Prisoners
"The Forgotten Prisoners" is an article by Peter Benenson published in The Observer on 28 May 1961 citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 18 and 19, announcing the campaign "Appeal for Amnesty, 1961" and calling for "common action"...

". The article brought the reader’s attention to those "imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government" or, put another way, to violations, by governments, of articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 (UDHR). The article described these violations occurring, on a global scale, in the context of restrictions to press freedom, to political oppositions, to timely public trial
Public trial
Public trial or open trial is a trial open to public, as opposed to the secret trial. The term should not be confused with show trial.-United States:...

 before impartial courts, and to asylum. It marked the launch of "Appeal for Amnesty, 1961", the aim of which was to mobilise public opinion, quickly and widely, in defence of these individuals, whom Benenson named "Prisoners of Conscience". The "Appeal for Amnesty" was reprinted by a large number of international newspapers. In the same year Benenson had a book published, Persecution 1961, which detailed the cases of nine prisoners of conscience
Prisoner of conscience
Prisoner of conscience is a term defined in Peter Benenson's 1961 article "The Forgotten Prisoners" often used by the human rights group Amnesty International. It can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views...

 investigated and compiled by Benenson and Baker (Maurice Adin, Ashton Jones
Ashton Jones
Ashton Bryan Jones was an American Quaker minister active from the 1930s to 1970s as an advocate of Civil Rights for African Americans in the United States. Though White and from the deeply segregated state of Georgia, Jones was arrested dozens of times throughout the American South for preaching...

, Agostinho Neto
Agostinho Neto
António Agostinho Neto served as the first President of Angola , leading the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola in the war for independence and the civil war...

, Patrick Duncan
Patrick Duncan (anti-apartheid activist)
Patrick Baker Duncan was a political thinker and activist, whose three books promoted human rights in South Africa and expressed concern regarding the relationship of humans with the Earth...

, Olga Ivinskaya
Olga Ivinskaya
Olga Vsevolodovna Ivinskaya was the mistress of Boris Pasternak and the inspiration for the character of Lara in Pasternak's novel, Dr. Zhivago....

, Luis Taruc
Luis Taruc
Luis Taruc was a Filipino political figure and communist insurgent. He was the leader of the Hukbalahap rebel group between 1942 and 1954. His involvement with the movement came after his initiation to the problems of agrarian Filipinos when he was a student in the early 1930s...

, Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica was a Romanian philosopher, essayist and poet. His preoccupations were throughout all philosophy, from epistemology, philosophy of culture, axiology and philosophic anthropology to ontology and logics, from the history of philosophy to systematic philosophy, from ancient to...

, Antonio Amat and Hu Feng
Hu Feng
Hu Feng was a Chinese writer and literary and art theorist. He comes from Qichun in the province of Hubei. In 1929 he went to study in Japan. In 1933, he was expelled from Japan and he joined the League of the Left-Wing Writers in China in Shanghai. He was friends with Lu Xun...

).
In July 1961 the leadership had decided that the appeal would form the basis of a permanent organisation, which on 30 September 1962 was officially named 'Amnesty International' (Between the 'Appeal for Amnesty, 1961' and September 1962 the organisation had been known simply as 'Amnesty'.)

What started as a short appeal soon became a permanent international movement working to protect those imprisoned for non-violent expression of their views and to secure worldwide recognition of Articles 18 and 19 of the UDHR. From the very beginning, research and campaigning were present in Amnesty International’s work. A library was established for information about prisoners of conscience and a network of local groups, called ‘THREES’ groups, was started. Each group worked on behalf of three prisoners, one from each of the then three main ideological regions of the world: communist, capitalist and developing.

By the mid-1960s Amnesty International’s global presence was growing and an International Secretariat and International Executive Committee was established to manage Amnesty International’s national organisations, called ‘Sections’, which had appeared in several countries. The international movement was starting to agree on its core principles and techniques. For example, the issue of whether or not to adopt prisoners who had advocated violence, like Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

, brought unanimous agreement that it could not give the name of 'Prisoner of Conscience' to such prisoners. Aside from the work of the library and groups, Amnesty International’s activities were expanding to helping prisoner’s families, sending observers to trials, making representations to governments, and finding asylum or overseas employment for prisoners. Its activity and influence was also increasing within intergovernmental organisations; it would be awarded consultative status by the United Nations, the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 and UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 before the decade ended.

1970s


Leading Amnesty International in the 1970s were key figureheads Seán MacBride
Seán MacBride
Seán MacBride was an Irish government minister and prominent international politician as well as a Chief of Staff of the IRA....

 and Martin Ennals
Martin Ennals
Martin Ennals was a British human rights activist.Ennals served as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, between 1968 and 1980....

. While continuing to work for prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International’s purview widened to include "fair trial
Fair Trial
Fair Trial was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and Champion sire. He was bred and raced by John Arthur Dewar who also bred and raced Tudor Minstrel....

" and opposition to long detention without trial (UDHR Article 9), and especially to the torture of prisoners (UDHR Article 5). Amnesty International believed that the reasons underlying torture of prisoners, by governments, were either to obtain information or to quell opposition by the use of terror, or both. Also of concern was the export of more sophisticated torture methods, equipment and teaching by the superpowers to "client states", for example by the United States through some activities of the CIA
CIA transnational human rights actions
This article deals with those activities of the Central Intelligence Agency that preserve or violate human rights.-General principles:In 2003, Patricia Derian, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Carter Administration wrote, "Through these U.S. military and...

.

Amnesty International drew together reports from countries where torture allegations seemed most persistent and organized an international conference on torture. It sought to influence public opinion in order to put pressure on national governments by organising a campaign for the 'Abolition of Torture' which ran for several years.

Amnesty International’s membership increased from 15,000 in 1969 to 200,000 by 1979. This growth in resources enabled an expansion of its program, ‘outside of the prison walls’, to include work on “disappearances”
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

, the death penalty and the rights of refugees. A new technique, the 'Urgent Action’, aimed at mobilising the membership into action rapidly was pioneered. The first was issued on 19 March 1973, on behalf of Luiz Basilio Rossi, a Brazilian academic, arrested for political reasons.

At the intergovernmental level Amnesty International pressed for application of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners were adopted on 30 August 1955 by the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva, and approved by the Economic and Social Council in resolutions of 31 July 1957 and 13 May 1977.Although...

 and of existing humanitarian conventions; to secure ratifications of the two UN Covenants on Human Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976...

 in 1976); and was instrumental in obtaining additional instruments and provisions forbidding its practice. Consultative status was granted at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States .Along with the...

 in 1972.

In 1976 Amnesty's British Section started a series of fund-raising events that came to be known as The Secret Policeman's Balls
The Secret Policeman's Balls
The Secret Policeman's Balls is the collective name informally used to describe the long-running series of benefit shows staged in England to raise funds for the human rights organisation Amnesty International...

 series. They were staged in London initially as comedy galas featuring what the Daily Telegraph called "the crème de la crème of the British comedy world" including members of comedy troupe Monty Python
Monty Python
Monty Python was a British surreal comedy group who created their influential Monty Python's Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series...

, and later expanded to also include performances by leading rock musicians. The series was created and developed by Monty Python alumnus John Cleese
John Cleese
John Marwood Cleese is an English actor, comedian, writer, and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report...

 and entertainment industry executive Martin Lewis working closely with Amnesty staff members Peter Luff
Peter Luff (campaigner)
Peter John Roussel Luff, Chairman of the European Movement UK, and director of Action for a Global Climate Community; formerly Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society ; Director of The European Movement UK and Vice Chair, The International European Movement Funding and Marketing Director of...

 (Assistant Director of Amnesty 1974–1978) and subsequently with Peter Walker (Amnesty Fund-Raising Officer 1978-1982). Cleese, Lewis and Luff worked together on the first two shows (1976 and 1977). Cleese, Lewis and Walker worked together on the 1979 and 1981 shows, the first to carry what the Daily Telegraph described as the "rather brilliantly re-christened" Secret Policeman's Ball title.

The organisation was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 for its "campaign against torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

" and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights
United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights
The United Nations Prizes in the Field of Human Rights were instituted by United Nations General Assembly in 1966.They are intended to "honour and commend people and organizations which have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights embodied in the...

 in 1978.

1980s


By 1980 Amnesty International was drawing more criticism from governments. The USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 alleged that Amnesty International conducted espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

, the Moroccan government denounced it as a defender of lawbreakers, and the Argentine government banned Amnesty International’s 1983 annual report.

Throughout the 1980s, Amnesty International continued to campaign against torture, and on behalf of prisoners of conscience. New issues emerged, including extrajudicial killings
Extrajudicial punishment
Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

, military, security and police transfers, political killings; and disappearances.

Towards the end of the decade, the growing numbers worldwide of refugees was a very visible area of Amnesty International’s concern. While many of the world’s refugees of the time had been displaced by war and famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

, in adherence to its mandate, Amnesty International concentrated on those forced to flee because of the human rights violations it was seeking to prevent. It argued that rather than focusing on new restrictions on entry for asylum-seekers, governments were to address the human rights violations which were forcing people into exile.

Apart from a second campaign on torture during the first half of the decade, two major musical events occurred, designed to increase awareness of Amnesty and of human rights (particularly among younger generations) during the mid- to late-1980s. The 1986 Conspiracy of Hope tour, which played five concerts in the U.S., and culminated in a daylong show, featuring some thirty-odd acts at Giants Stadium, and the 1988 Human Rights Now! world tour. Human Rights Now!, which was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 (UDHR), played a series of concerts on five continents over six weeks. Both tours featured some of the most famous musicians and bands of the day.

1990s


Throughout the 1990s, Amnesty International continued to grow, to a membership of over 3 million in over 150 countries and territories, led by Senegalese Secretary General Pierre Sané
Pierre Sané
Pierre Sané was UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences from May 2001 - June 2010. He was Secretary General of Amnesty International from October 1992 to April 2001.-Biography:Born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1949...

. Amnesty continued to work on a wide range of issues and world events. For example, South African groups joined in 1992 and hosted a visit by Pierre Sané to meet with the apartheid government to press for an investigation into allegations of police abuse, an end to arms sales to the African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes and the Rift Valley lakes in and around the geographic Great Rift Valley formed by the action of the tectonic East African Rift on the continent of Africa...

 region and the abolition of the death penalty. In particular, Amnesty International brought attention to violations committed on specific groups, including refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s, racial/ethnic/religious minorities, women and those executed or on Death Row
Death row
Death row signifies the place, often a section of a prison, that houses individuals awaiting execution. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of awaiting execution , even in places where no special facility or separate unit for condemned inmates exists.After individuals are found...

. The death penalty report When the state kills (ISBN 978-0-691-10261-0) and the ‘Human Rights are Women's Rights’ campaign were key actions for the latter two issues.
During the 1990s, Amnesty International was forced to react to human rights violations occurring in the context of a proliferation of armed conflict in Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

, the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, and the former Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

. Amnesty International took no position on whether to support or oppose external military interventions in these armed conflicts. It did not (and does not) reject the use of force, even lethal force, or ask those engaged to lay down their arms. Instead, it questioned the motives behind external intervention and selectivity of international action in relation to the strategic interests of those sending troops. It argued that action should be taken to prevent human rights problems becoming human rights catastrophes, and that both intervention and inaction represented a failure of the international community
International community
The international community is a term used in international relations to refer to all peoples, cultures and governments of the world or to a group of them. The term is used to imply the existence of common duties and obligations between them...

.

Amnesty International was proactive in pushing for recognition of the universality of human rights. The campaign ‘Get Up, Sign Up’ marked 50 years of the UDHR. Thirteen million pledges were collected in support, and the Decl music concert was held in Paris on 10 December 1998 (Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.The date was chosen to honor the United NationsGeneral Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , the first global enunciation of human rights...

). At the intergovernmental level, Amnesty International argued in favour of creating an United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is a United Nations agency that works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948...

 (established 1993) and an International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 (established 2002).

After his arrest in London in 1998 by the Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan police
Metropolitan Police is a generic title for the municipal police force for a major metropolitan area, and it may be part of the official title of the force...

, Amnesty International became involved in the legal battle of Senator Pinochet, a former Chilean President, who sought to avoid extradition to Spain to face charges. Lord Hoffman had an indirect connection with Amnesty International, and this led to an important test for the appearance of bias in legal proceedings in UK law. There was a suit against the decision to release Senator Pinochet, taken by the then British Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

 Mr Jack Straw, before that decision had actually been taken, in an attempt to prevent the release of Senator Pinochet. The English High Court
High Court of Justice
The High Court of Justice is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

 refused the application and Senator Pinochet was released and returned to Chile. This legal challenge was a novel attempt to use legal process to challenge a decision before it was taken and could be seen as hard to reconcile with the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

, as it was predicated on a presumption that the Home Secretary had erred in law whatever the reasons were for the decision.

2000s


After 2000, Amnesty International’s agenda turned to the challenges arising from globalisation and the reaction to the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. The issue of globalisation provoked a major shift in Amnesty International policy, as the scope of its work was widened to include economic, social and cultural rights, an area that it had declined to work on in the past. Amnesty International felt this shift was important, not just to give credence to its principle of the indivisibility of rights, but because of what it saw as the growing power of companies and the undermining of many nation states as a result of globalisation.

In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, the new Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan
Irene Khan
Irene Zubaida Khan is a Bangladeshi human rights activist. She was the seventh Secretary General of Amnesty International until her resignation on 31 December 2009. She was appointed as a member of the Charity Commission of England and Wales on 1 January 2010 but resigned after a controversy over...

, reported that a senior government official had said to Amnesty International delegates: "Your role collapsed with the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York". In the years following the attacks, some believe that the gains made by human rights organisations over previous decades had possibly been eroded. Amnesty International argued that human rights were the basis for the security of all, not a barrier to it. Criticism came directly from the Bush administration and The Washington Post, when Khan, in 2005, likened the US government’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a Soviet Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

.

During the first half of the new decade, Amnesty International turned its attention to violence against women
Violence against women
Violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women...

, controls on the world arms trade
Arms industry
The arms industry is a global industry and business which manufactures and sells weapons and military technology and equipment. It comprises government and commercial industry involved in research, development, production, and service of military material, equipment and facilities...

 and concerns surrounding the effectiveness of the UN. With its membership close to two million by 2005, Amnesty continued to work for prisoners of conscience.

In 2007, the organisation appeared to endorse pro-choice for abortion. However, the organisation responded by saying that it had only done this for limited situations.

Amnesty International reported, concerning the Iraq war, on 17 March 2008, that despite claims the security situation in Iraq has improved in recent months, the human rights situation is disastrous, after the start of the war five years ago in 2003.

In 2008 Amnesty International launched a mobile donating
Mobile donating
Mobile donating refers to donating to an organization through a mobile device. The primary means for mobile donating is through SMS. Mobile donating can also refer to consumers donating their old phones to a cause for recycling and reuse of the device....

 campaign in the United States, which allows supporters to make $5 micro-donations
Micro-donations
Micro-donations are a form of charitable donations that are small in the donated amount. In the past, they have been used most effectively by companies collecting spare change at registers and checkouts...

 by sending a text message to the short code
Short code
Short codes are special telephone numbers, significantly shorter than full telephone numbers, that can be used to address SMS and MMS messages from certain service provider's mobile phones or fixed phones...

 90999 with the keyword RIGHTS. Amnesty International’s mobile fund raising campaign was created in partnership with Mgive
Mgive
mGive, founded in 2005, is a Denver based Wireless Application Service Provider. mGive offers mobile giving services, and is an approved mGive Foundation Wireless Application Service Provider....

 and the Mobile Giving Foundation
Mobile giving foundation
The Mobile Giving Foundation is a non-profit organization based in the U.S. state of Washington, working to increase mobile donating in the US. Chairman and CEO, Jim Manis in early 2008 fostered a deal between the top four major US carriers, allowing non-profit text message fees to be...

.

In 2009 Amnesty International accused Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement of committing war crimes during Israel's January offensive in Gaza, called Operation Cast Lead, that resulted in the deaths of more than 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. The 117-page Amnesty report charged Israeli forces with killing hundreds of civilians and wanton destruction of thousands of homes. Amnesty found no evidence of Palestinian militants using human shields to stop Israeli attacks, but accused Hamas of launching attacks from buildings in which Palestinian civilians were sheltering. A subsequent United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone Report, was a team established in April 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council during the Gaza War as an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged violations of international...

 was carried out; Amnesty stated that its findings were consistent with those of Amnesty’s own field investigation, and called on the UN to act promptly to implement the mission's recommendations.

2010s


In February 2010, Amnesty suspended Gita Sahgal, its gender unit head, after she criticized Amnesty for its links with Moazzam Begg
Moazzam Begg
Moazzam Begg , is a British Pakistani Muslim who was held in extrajudicial detention in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, in Cuba, by the U.S...

, Director of a campaign group called Cageprisoners
Cageprisoners
Cageprisoners Ltd is a London-based human rights organization with an Islamic focus, whose stated aim is "to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror." It campaigns on behalf of Muslim prisoners, including convicted...

. She had called the links "a gross error of judgment" that risked Amnesty's reputation on human rights, and said it was wrong to ally with "Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban". Amnesty responded that Sahgal was not suspended "for raising these issues internally... [Begg] speaks about his own views ..., not Amnesty International’s." Among those who spoke up for Saghal were Salman Rushdie ("Amnesty ... has done its reputation incalculable damage.... It looks very much as if Amnesty's leadership is suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy, and has lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong"), Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 Denis MacShane
Denis MacShane
Denis MacShane is a British politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Rotherham since the 1994 by-election and served as the Minister for Europe from 2002 until 2005, as well as being a current Policy Council member for Labour Friends of Israel.On 14 October 2010, it was announced...

, Joan Smith, Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

, Martin Bright
Martin Bright
Martin Bright is a British journalist. He worked for the BBC World Service and The Guardian before becoming The Observer's education correspondent and then home affairs editor...

, Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She began her career on the left of the political spectrum, writing for such publications as The Guardian and New Statesman. In the 1990s she moved to the right, and she now writes for the Daily Mail newspaper, covering political and social...

, and Nick Cohen
Nick Cohen
Nick Cohen is a British journalist, author and political commentator. He is currently a columnist for The Observer, a blogger for The Spectator and TV critic for Standpoint magazine. He formerly wrote for the London Evening Standard and the New Statesman...

.

In February 2011, Amnesty requested that Swiss authorities start a criminal investigation of former U. S. President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and arrest him.

In July 2011, Amnesty International celebrated its 50 years with an animated short film directed by Carlos Lascano, produced by Eallin Motion Art and Dreamlife Studio, with music by Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer
Hans Florian Zimmer is a German film composer and music producer. He has composed music for over 100 films, including critically acclaimed film scores for The Lion King , Crimson Tide , The Thin Red Line , Gladiator , The Dark Knight and Inception .Zimmer spent the early part of his career in the...

 and nominee Lorne Balfe. The film shows that the fight for humanity is not yet over.

Principles


A vital part of AI's mandate is the so-called “violence clause”. It sets prisoners of conscience apart from the other categories of prisoners on whose behalf the movement works. If a prisoner is serving a sentence imposed, after a fair trial, for activities involving violence, AI will not ask the government to release the prisoner.

AI does not judge whether recourse to violence is justified or not. However, AI does not oppose the political use of violence in itself since The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its preamble, foresees situations in which people could “be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression”.

AI neither supports nor condemns the resort to violence by political opposition groups in itself, just as AI neither supports nor condemns a government policy of using military force in fighting against armed opposition movements. However, AI supports minimum humane standards that should be respected by governments and armed opposition groups alike. When an opposition group tortures or kills its captives, takes hostages, or commits deliberate and arbitrary killings, AI condemns these abuses.

Work


Amnesty International primarily targets governments, but also reports on non-governmental bodies and private individuals ("non-state actors").

There are six key areas which Amnesty deals with:
  • Women's
    Women's rights
    Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

    , children's
    Children's rights
    Children's rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to the young, including their right to association with both biological parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state-paid education,...

    , minorities'
    Minority rights
    The term Minority Rights embodies two separate concepts: first, normal individual rights as applied to members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, linguistic or sexual minorities, and second, collective rights accorded to minority groups...

     and indigenous rights
    Indigenous rights
    Indigenous rights are those rights that exist in recognition of the specific condition of the indigenous peoples. This includes not only the most basic human rights of physical survival and integrity, but also the preservation of their land, language, religion and other elements of cultural...

  • Ending torture
    Torture
    Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

  • Abolition of the death penalty
  • Rights of refugee
    Refugee
    A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

    s
  • Rights of prisoners of conscience
    Prisoner of conscience
    Prisoner of conscience is a term defined in Peter Benenson's 1961 article "The Forgotten Prisoners" often used by the human rights group Amnesty International. It can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views...

  • Protection of human dignity.


Some specific aims are to: abolish the death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

, end extra judicial executions
Extrajudicial punishment
Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

 and "disappearances,"
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

 ensure prison conditions meet international human rights standards, ensure prompt and fair trial for all political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s, ensure free education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 to all children worldwide, decriminalise abortion, fight impunity
Impunity
Impunity means "exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines". In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims' right to justice and redress...

 from systems of justice, end the recruitment and use of child soldiers
Military use of children
The military use of children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in hostilities , or they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, look outs, and sexual slaves; or they can be used for political advantage either as human shields or in...

, free all prisoners of conscience
Prisoner of conscience
Prisoner of conscience is a term defined in Peter Benenson's 1961 article "The Forgotten Prisoners" often used by the human rights group Amnesty International. It can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views...

, promote economic, social and cultural rights for marginalized communities, protect human rights defenders, promote religious tolerance, protect LGBT rights, stop torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 and ill-treatment, stop unlawful killings in armed conflict, uphold the rights of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers, and protect human dignity.

To further these aims, Amnesty International has developed several techniques to publicise information and mobilise public opinion. The organisation considers as one of its strengths the publication of impartial and accurate reports. Reports are researched by: interviewing victims and officials, observing trials, working with local human rights activists, and monitoring the media. It aims to issue timely press releases and publishes information in newsletters and on web sites. It also sends official missions to countries to make courteous but insistent inquiries.

Campaigns to mobilise public opinion can take the form of individual, country, or thematic campaigns. Many techniques are deployed, such as direct appeals (for example, letter writing), media and publicity work, and public demonstrations. Often, fund-raising is integrated with campaigning.

In situations which require immediate attention, Amnesty International calls on existing urgent action networks or crisis response networks; for all other matters, it calls on its membership. It considers the large size of its human resources to be another of its key strengths.

The role of Amnesty International has an immense impact on getting citizens onboard with focusing on human rights issues. These groups influence countries and governments to give their people justice with pressure and in man power. An example of Amnesty International's work, which began in the 1960s by writing letters to free imprisoned people that were put there for non-violent expressions. The group now has power, attends sessions, and became a source of information for the U.N. The increase in participation of non-governmental organizations changes how we live today. Felix Dodds states in a recent document that, “In the 1972 there were 39 democratic countries in the world; by 2002, there were 139.” This shows that non-governmental organizations make enormous leaps within a short period of time for human rights.

Country focus


Amnesty reports disproportionately on relatively more democratic and open countries, arguing that its intention is not to produce a range of reports which statistically represents the world’s human rights abuses, but rather to apply the pressure of public opinion to encourage improvements. The demonstration effect
Demonstration effect
Demonstration effects are effects on the behavior of individuals caused by observation of the actions of others and their consequences. The term is particularly used in political science and sociology to describe the fact that developments in one place will often act as a catalyst in another...

 of the behaviour of both key Western governments and major non-Western states is an important factor: as one former Amnesty Secretary-General pointed out, "for many countries and a large number of people, the United States is a model," and according to one Amnesty manager, "large countries influence small countries." In addition, with the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, Amnesty felt that a greater emphasis on human rights in the North was needed to improve its credibility with its Southern critics by demonstrating its willingness to report on human rights issues in a truly global manner.

According to one academic study, as a result of these considerations the frequency of Amnesty's reports is influenced by a number of factors, besides the frequency and severity of human rights abuses. For example, Amnesty reports significantly more (than predicted by human rights abuses) on more economically powerful states; and on countries which receive US military aid, on the basis that this Western complicity in abuses increases the likelihood of public pressure being able to make a difference. In addition, around 1993–94, Amnesty consciously developed its media relations, producing fewer background reports and more press releases, to increase the impact of its reports. Press releases are partly driven by news coverage, to use existing news coverage as leverage to discuss Amnesty's human rights concerns. This increases Amnesty's focus on the countries the media is more interested in.

Amnesty's country focus is similar to that of some other comparable NGOs, notably Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

: between 1991 and 2000, Amnesty and HRW shared eight of ten countries in their "top ten" (by Amnesty press releases; 7 for Amnesty reports). In addition, six of the 10 countries most reported on by Human Rights Watch in the 1990s also made The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

's and Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

's "most covered" lists during that time.

Rank Country #Reports % Total
1 Turkey 394 3.91
2 USSR and Russian Federation 374 3.71
3 People's Republic of China 357 3.54
4 United States 349 3.46
5 Israel (inc. West Bank and Gaza Strip) 323 3.21
6 South Korea 305 3.03
7 Indonesia and East Timor 253 2.51
8 Colombia 197 1.96
9 Peru 192 1.91
10 India 178 1.77
Source: Ronand et al. (2005:568) Data for 1986–2000


Artists For Amnesty


Amnesty International, through its "Artists For Amnesty" program has also endorsed various cultural media works for what its leadership often consider accurate or educational treatments of real-world topics which fall within the range of Amnesty's concern:
  • A is for Auschwitz
  • At the Death House Door
    At the Death House Door
    At the Death House Door is a 2008 documentary film about Carroll Pickett, who served as the death house chaplain to the infamous "Walls" prison unit in Huntsville, Texas. It was produced and directed by the team of Steve James and Peter Gilbert...

  • Blood Diamond
    Blood Diamond (film)
    Blood Diamond is a 2006 political thriller film co-produced and directed by Edward Zwick and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou...

  • Bordertown
    Bordertown (2006 film)
    Bordertown is a 2006 American drama motion picture, written and directed by Oscar-nominated Gregory Nava and executive produced by David Bergstein, Cary Epstein, Barbara Martinez-Jitner, and Tracee Stanley-Newell...

  • Catch a Fire
    Catch a Fire (film)
    Catch a Fire is a 2006 dramatic thriller about activists against apartheid in South Africa. The film was directed by Phillip Noyce, from a screenplay written by Shawn Slovo...

  • In Prison My Whole Life
    In Prison My Whole Life
    In Prison My Whole Life is a 2008 documentary film about Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia was arrested the day William Francome was born. When Francome made this film he was 25 years old and Mumia was still on death row....

  • Invictus
    Invictus (film)
    Invictus is a 2009 biographical sports drama film directed by Clint Eastwood starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World...

  • Lord of War
    Lord of War
    Lord of War is a 2005 French-German-American action drama film written and directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Nicolas Cage. It was released in the United States on September 16, 2005, with the DVD following on January 17, 2006 and the Blu-ray Disc on July 27, 2006.Cage plays an illegal arms...

  • Rendition
    Rendition (film)
    Rendition is a 2007 drama film directed by Gavin Hood and starring Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Peter Sarsgaard, Alan Arkin, Jake Gyllenhaal and Omar Metwally. It centers on the controversial CIA practice of extraordinary rendition, and is based on the true story of Khalid El-Masri who was...

  • The Constant Gardener
    The Constant Gardener (film)
    The Constant Gardener is a 2005 drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles. The screenplay by Jeffrey Caine is based on the John le Carré novel of the same name. It tells the story of Justin Quayle, a man who seeks to find the motivating forces behind his wife's murder.The film stars Ralph Fiennes,...

  • Tibet: Beyond Fear
  • Trouble the Water
    Trouble the Water
    Trouble the Water is a 2008 documentary film produced and directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, producers of Fahrenheit 9/11. Trouble the Water is a redemptive tale of a couple surviving failed levees, bungling bureaucrats, and their own troubled past and a portrait of a community abandoned long...


Organisation




Amnesty International is largely made up of voluntary members, but retains a small number of paid professionals. In countries in which Amnesty International has a strong presence, members are organised as 'sections'. Sections coordinate basic Amnesty International activities normally with a significant number of members, some of whom will form into 'groups', and a professional staff. Each have a board of directors. In 2005 there were 52 sections worldwide. 'Structures' are aspiring sections. They also coordinate basic activities but have a smaller membership and a limited staff. In countries where no section or structure exists, people can become 'international members'. Two other organisational models exist: 'international networks', which promote specific themes or have a specific identity, and 'affiliated groups', which do the same work as section groups, but in isolation.

The organisations outlined above are represented by the International Council (IC) which is led by the IC Chairperson. Members of sections and structures have the right to appoint one or more representatives to the Council according to the size of their membership. The IC may invite representatives from International Networks and other individuals to meetings, but only representatives from sections and structures have voting rights. The function of the IC is to appoint and hold accountable internal governing bodies and to determine the direction of the movement. The IC convenes every two years.

The International Executive Committee (IEC), led by the IEC Chairperson, consists of eight members and the IEC Treasurer. It is elected by, and represents, the IC and meets biannually. The role of the IEC is to take decisions on behalf of Amnesty International, implement the strategy laid out by the IC, and ensure compliance with the organisation’s statutes.

The International Secretariat (IS) is responsible for the conduct and daily affairs of Amnesty International under direction from the IEC and IC. It is run by approximately 500 professional staff members and is headed by a Secretary General. The IS operates several work programmes; International Law and Organisations; Research; Campaigns; Mobilisation; and Communications. Its offices have been located in London since its establishment in the mid-1960s.

Amnesty International is financed largely by fees and donations from its worldwide membership. It does not accept donations from governments or governmental organisations.
  • Amnesty International Sections, 2005
    Algeria; Argentina; Australia
    Amnesty International Australia
    Amnesty International Australia is a section of the Amnesty International network, and is part of the global movement promoting and defending human rights and dignity....

    ; Austria; Belgium (Dutch speaking); Belgium (French speaking); Benin; Bermuda; Canada (English speaking); Canada (French speaking); Chile; Côte d'Ivoire; Denmark; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Guyana; Hong Kong; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Korea (Republic of); Luxembourg; Mauritius; Mexico; Morocco; Nepal; Netherlands; New Zealand
    Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
    Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand is a part of the Amnesty International network, and works to end human rights abuses.The first New Zealand Amnesty group was founded in 1965, and the organisation was incorporated in 1966...

    ; Norway; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; Togo; Tunisia; United Kingdom; United States of America
    Amnesty International USA
    Amnesty International USA is one of many country sections that make up Amnesty International worldwide.Amnesty International is an organization of more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in over 150 countries, with complete independence from government, corporate or national...

    ; Uruguay; Venezuela

  • Amnesty International Structures, 2005
    Belarus; Bolivia; Burkina Faso; Croatia; Curaçao; Czech Republic; Gambia; Hungary; Malaysia; Mali; Moldova; Mongolia; Pakistan; Paraguay; Slovakia; South Africa
    Amnesty International South Africa
    Amnesty International South Africa is a South Africa organisation that works to end human rights abuses and part is of the Amnesty International network....

    ; Thailand; Turkey; Ukraine; Zambia; Zimbabwe

  • IEC Chairpersons
    Seán MacBride
    Seán MacBride
    Seán MacBride was an Irish government minister and prominent international politician as well as a Chief of Staff of the IRA....

    , 1965–1974; Dirk Börner, 1974–1977; Thomas Hammarberg
    Thomas Hammarberg
    Thomas Hammarberg is a Swedish diplomat and human rights defender.He is currently the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg...

    , 1977–1979; José Zalaquett, 1979–1982; Suriya Wickremasinghe, 1982–1985; Wolfgang Heinz, 1985–1996; Franca Sciuto, 1986–1989; Peter Duffy
    Peter Duffy
    Peter Duffy QC was a British barrister. Educated at Wimbledon College, London, he read law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge where he received a first class degree. He went on to Queen Mary College, London, where he taught from 1979 to 1989. He was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1978...

    , 1989–1991; Annette Fischer, 1991–1992; Ross Daniels
    Ross Daniels (politician)
    Ross Daniels was the Australian Labor Party candidate for the Division of Ryan in the Australian federal election in 2007. While he did not win, he achieved Labor's best result ever in Ryan at a general election: a vote of 46.2% after a swing of 6.6%...

    , 1993–1997; Susan Waltz, 1996–1998; Mahmoud Ben Romdhane, 1999–2000; Colm O Cuanachain, 2001–2002; Paul Hoffman, 2003–2004; Jaap Jacobson, 2005; Hanna Roberts, 2005–2006; Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, 2006–2007; Peter Pack, 2007–present

  • Secretaries General"

{| border="2" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" style="margin: 0 1em 0 0; background: #f9f9f9; border: 1px #aaa solid; border-collapse: collapse; font-size: 92%;"
{| class="wikitable sortable"
|-
!| Secretary General
! Office
! Origin
|- style="background-color:"
| Peter Benenson  Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson was an English lawyer and the founder of human rights group Amnesty International . In 2001, Benenson received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement.-Biography:...


| 1961–1966
| Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


|- style="background-color:"
| Eric Baker  Eric Baker
Eric Baker (activist)
Eric Baker was a British activist and one of the founders of the human rights group Amnesty International, and the second general secretary of the organization...


| 1966–1968
| Britain
|- style="background-color:"
| Martin Ennals  Martin Ennals
Martin Ennals
Martin Ennals was a British human rights activist.Ennals served as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, between 1968 and 1980....


| 1968–1980
| Britain
|- style="background-color:"
| Thomas Hammarberg  Thomas Hammarberg
Thomas Hammarberg
Thomas Hammarberg is a Swedish diplomat and human rights defender.He is currently the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg...


| 1980–1986
| Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....


|- style="background-color:"
| Avery Brundage
Avery Brundage
Avery Brundage was an American amateur athlete, sports official, art collector, and philanthropist. Brundage competed in the 1912 Olympics and was the US national all-around athlete in 1914, 1916 and 1918...

  Ian Martin
Ian Martin
Ian Martin, from the United Kingdom, is a human rights activist who has been involved in a number of human rights organisations. He was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal for the United Nations Mission in Nepal from 2007 to 2009....


| 1986–1992
| Britain
|- style="background-color:"
| Pierre Sané  Pierre Sané
Pierre Sané
Pierre Sané was UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences from May 2001 - June 2010. He was Secretary General of Amnesty International from October 1992 to April 2001.-Biography:Born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1949...


| 1992–2001
| Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...


|- style="background-color:"
| Irene Khan  Irene Khan
Irene Khan
Irene Zubaida Khan is a Bangladeshi human rights activist. She was the seventh Secretary General of Amnesty International until her resignation on 31 December 2009. She was appointed as a member of the Charity Commission of England and Wales on 1 January 2010 but resigned after a controversy over...


| 2001–2010
| Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...


|- style="background-color:"
| Salil Shetty  Salil Shetty
Salil Shetty
Salil Shetty has been the director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign since October 2003. Before joining the UN, he served as the Chief Executive of ActionAid. He is an Indian national.-Amnesty International :...


| 2010 –
| India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...


|}

Criticism


Criticism of Amnesty International includes claims of excessive pay for management, underprotection of overseas staff, associating with organizations with a dubious record on human rights protection, selection bias
Selection bias
Selection bias is a statistical bias in which there is an error in choosing the individuals or groups to take part in a scientific study. It is sometimes referred to as the selection effect. The term "selection bias" most often refers to the distortion of a statistical analysis, resulting from the...

, ideological
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

/foreign policy bias against either non-Western countries or Western-supported countries, criticism of Amnesty's policies relating to abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, assertion that "defensive jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

" is not antithetical to human rights, and organisational continuity. Governments who have criticised Amnesty include those of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, for what they assert is one-sided reporting or a failure to treat threats to security as a mitigating factor. The actions of these governments—and of other governments critical of Amnesty International—have been the subject of human rights concerns voiced by Amnesty. As of February 2011, Amnesty is engaged in a dispute with the British union Unite
Unite the Union
Unite – the Union, known as Unite, is a British and Irish trade union, formed on 1 May 2007, by the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union...

 over Amnesty allegedly attempting to de-recognize some of its foreign-based workers' rights.

Pay Controversy


In February 2011, newspaper stories in the UK revealed that Irene Khan
Irene Khan
Irene Zubaida Khan is a Bangladeshi human rights activist. She was the seventh Secretary General of Amnesty International until her resignation on 31 December 2009. She was appointed as a member of the Charity Commission of England and Wales on 1 January 2010 but resigned after a controversy over...

 had received a payment of UK £533,103 from Amnesty International following her resignation from the organisation on 31 December 2009, a fact pointed to from Amnesty's records for the 2009–2010 financial year. The sum paid to her was in excess of four times her annual salary of £132,490. The deputy secretary general, Kate Gilmore – who also resigned in December 2009 – received an ex-gratia payment of £320,000. Peter Pack, the chairman of Amnesty's international executive committee, initially stated on 19 February 2011, "The payments to outgoing secretary general Irene Khan shown in the accounts of AI (Amnesty International) Ltd for the year ending March 31st 2010 include payments made as part of a confidential agreement between AI Ltd and Irene Khan." and that "It is a term of this agreement that no further comment on it will be made by either party."

The payment and AI's initial response to its leakage to the press led to considerable outcry. Philip Davies
Philip Davies
Philip Andrew Davies is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Shipley in West Yorkshire.-Early life:...

, the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 MP for Shipley
Shipley (UK Parliament constituency)
-Elections in the 2000s:-Elections in the 1990s:-Elections in the 1980s:-Elections in the 1970s:-Elections in the 1910s:...

, decried the payment, telling the Daily Express
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...

, "I am sure people making donations to Amnesty, in the belief they are alleviating poverty, never dreamed they were subsidizing a fat cat payout. This will disillusion many benefactors." On 21 February Peter Pack issued a further statement, in which he said that the payment was a "unique situation" that was "in the best interest of Amnesty’s work" and that there would be no repetition of it. He stated that "the new secretary general, with the full support of the IEC, has initiated a process to review our employment policies and procedures to ensure that such a situation does not happen again." Pack also stated that Amnesty was "fully committed to applying all the resources that we receive from our millions of supporters to the fight for human rights". On February 25, Pack issued a more complete statement intended for internal circulation among Amnesty members and staff. This in turn had been made public by Amnesty International Netherlands. In summary, it states that Amnesty's International Executive Committee (IEC) in 2008 had decided not to prolong Khan's contract for a third term. In the following months, IEC discovered that due to British employment law, it had to choose between the three options of either offering Khan a third term, discontinuing her post and potentially risking legal consequences, or signing a confidential agreement and issuing a pay compensation.

External links



  • Amnesty International official site
  • Is Amnesty International Biased?, 2002 discussion by Dennis Bernstein
    Dennis Bernstein
    Dennis Bernstein is producer and co-host of the radio news program, Flashpoints Radio on Pacifica Radio. Flashpoints originates from Pacifica Radio's flagship radio station, KPFA, listener-sponsored, noncommercial FM radio that is also carried on the Internet....

     and Dr. Francis Boyle
    Francis Boyle
    Francis Anthony Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Boyle received a A.B. in Political Science from the University of Chicago, then a J.D. degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from...

  • Amnesty International Head Irene Khan on The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights – video by Democracy Now!
    Democracy Now!
    Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television; the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of...

  • Amnesty International Promotion to Eliminate the Death Penalty – video by TBWA
    TBWA
    TBWA Worldwide is an international advertising agency whose headquarters are in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States. The Agency is a unit of Omnicom Group, the world's largest advertising agency holding company. It was founded in 1970 in Paris, France, by William G...

    /Paris and Pleix
    Pleix
    Pleix is a group of digital artists based in Paris, France. The group consists of both graphic artists and musicians, who create surreal, post-modern imagery. They are best known for the music videos they've created for Vitalic, Basement Jaxx and Plaid...

    for Amnesty International France