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Amnesty International
Amnesty International logo.svg
Type Non-profit
Founded July 1961 by Peter Benenson in the United Kingdom
Headquarters Global
General secretariat in London
Staff Salil Shetty, Irene Khan, Seán MacBride, Martin Ennals, Peter Benenson, Thomas Hammarberg, Eric Baker, Arthur Fern, Ian Martin and Pierre Sané
Services Media attention, direct-appeal campaigns, research, lobbying
Method Protecting human rights
Members 2.2 million members and supporters
Motto It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.[1]

Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty and AI) is an international non-governmental organisation. Its stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."[2]

Founded in London in 1961, AI draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance with international laws and standards. It works to mobilise public opinion to exert pressure on governments that perpetrate abuses.[2] The organisation was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its "campaign against torture",[3] and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978.

In the field of international human rights organisations (of which there were 300 in 1996),[4] Amnesty has the longest history and broadest name recognition, and "is believed by many to set standards for the movement as a whole."[4]




Amnesty International was founded in London in July 1961 by English labour lawyer Peter Benenson. According to his own account, he was travelling in the London Underground on 19 November 1960, when he read of two Portuguese students from Coimbra who had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for allegedly "having drunk a toast to liberty".[a][5] In 1960, Portugal was the last remaining European colonial power in Africa, 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", 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."[6]

Benenson worked with friend Eric Baker. Baker was a member of the Religious Society of Friends who had been involved in funding the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as well as becoming head of Quaker Peace and Social Witness, and in his memoirs Benenson described him as "a partner in the launching of the project".[7] In consultation with other writers, academics and lawyers and, in particular, Alec Digges, they wrote via Louis Blom-Cooper to David Astor, editor of The Observer newspaper, who, on 28 May 1961, published Benenson’s article "The Forgotten Prisoners". The article brought the reader’s attention to those "imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government"[6] or, put another way, to violations, by governments, of articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(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 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, who 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 several prisoners of conscience investigated and compiled by Benenson and Baker.[8] 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'.)[9]

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, 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 and UNESCO before the decade ended.


Leading Amnesty International in the 1970s were key figureheads Sean MacBride and Martin Ennals. While continuing to work for prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International’s purview widened to include "fair trial" 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.

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[10] to 200,000 by 1979.[11] This growth in resources enabled an expansion of its program, ‘outside of the prison walls’, to include work on “disappearances”, 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 and of existing humanitarian conventions; to secure ratifications of the two UN Covenants on Human Rights 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 in 1972.

In 1976 AI started a series of fund raising events informally known as The Secret Policeman's Balls. Initially they were staged in London primarily as comedy galas featuring popular British comedic performers such as members of Monty Python, later expanding to include leading musical performers. The series was created and developed by Monty Python alumnus John Cleese and entertainment industry executive Martin Lewis working closely with Amnesty staff members Peter Luff (Assistant Director of Amnesty 1976–1977) and subsequently with Peter Walker (Fund-Raising Officer from 1978). Cleese, Lewis and Luff worked together on the first two shows (1976 and 1977).

The organisation was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its "campaign against torture"[3] in 1978.[12]


1986 Faroe postage stamp celebrating AI's 25th anniversary – Painting by 11 year old Rannvá Kunoy

By 1980 Amnesty International was drawing more criticism from governments. The USSR alleged that Amnesty International conducted espionage, the Moroccan government denounced it as a defender of lawbreakers, and the Argentine government banned Amnesty International’s 1983 annual report.[13]

Throughout the 1980s, Amnesty International continued to campaign for prisoners of conscience and torture. New issues emerged, including extrajudicial killings, 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, 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, the major AI event of the 1980s was the 1988 Human Rights Now! tour. Designed to increase awareness of Amnesty and of human rights on the 40th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), it featured some of the most famous musicians and bands of the day playing a series of concerts on five continents over six weeks.


Throughout the 1990s, Amnesty International continued to grow, to a membership of over 2.2 million in over 150 countries and territories,[14] led by Senegalese Secretary General Pierre Sané. AI 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 region and the abolition of the death penalty. In particular, Amnesty International brought attention to violations committed on specific groups, including refugees, racial/ethnic/religious minorities, women and those executed or on Death Row. The death penalty report When the state kills (ISBN 0691102619) 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, East Timor, the Persian Gulf, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. 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 me to prevent human rights problems becoming human rights catastrophes, and that both intervention and inaction represented a failure of the international community.

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). At the intergovernmental level, Amnesty International argued in favour of creating an United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (established 1993) and an International Criminal Court (established 2002).

After his arrest in London in 1998 by the Metropolitan Police, 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 [15] of the decision to release Senator Pinochet, taken by the then British Home Secretary Mr Jack Straw, before that decision had actually been taken, in an attempt to prevent the release of Senator Pinochet. The English High Court refused[16] 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, as it was predicated on a presumption that the Home Secretary had erred in law whatever the reasons were for the decision.[citation needed]


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.[citation needed]

In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, the new Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan, 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".[17] 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.[18][19]

During the first half of the new decade, Amnesty International turned its attention to violence against women, controls on the world arms trade and concerns surrounding the effectiveness of the UN. With its membership close to two million by 2005,[20] AI continued to work for prisoners of conscience.

In 2007, the organisation appeared to endorse pro-choice for abortion.[21] However, the organisation responded by saying that it had only done this for limited situations.[22]

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.[23]

In 2008 Amnesty International launched a mobile donating campaign in the United States, which allows supporters to make $5 micro-donations by sending a text message to the short code 90999 with the keyword RIGHTS. Amnesty International’s mobile fund raising campaign was created in partnership with Mgive and the Mobile Giving Foundation.[24]

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.[25] The 117-page Amnesty report charged Israeli forces with killing hundredcivilians and wanton destruction of thousands of homes. Amnesty found no evidence of Palestinian militants using human shields to stop Israeli attacks, but accused the Israel Defence Forces of launching attacks from buildings in which Palestinian civilians were sheltering. A subsequent United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict 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.[26]


In February 2010, Amnesty suspended Gita Sahgal, its gender unit head, after she criticized Amnesty for its links with Moazzam Begg, Director of a campaign group called Cageprisoners. 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".[27][28][29][30] Amnesty responded that Sahgal wasn't suspended "for raising these issues internally... [Begg] speaks about his own views ..., not Amnesty International’s."[31] 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 Denis MacShane, Joan Smith, Christopher Hitchens, Martin Bright, Melanie Phillips, and Nick Cohen.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]


Amnesty International’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

In pursuit of this vision, Amnesty International’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.

—Statute of Amnesty International, 27th International Council meeting, 2005

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

There are seven key areas which Amnesty deals with:

Some specific aims are to: abolish the death penalty, end extra judicial executions and "disappearances", ensure prison conditions meet international human rights standards, ensure prompt and fair trial for all political prisoners, ensure free education to all children worldwide, decriminalise abortion,[40] fight impunity from systems of justice, end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, free all prisoners of conscience, promote economic, social and cultural rights for marginalized communities, protect human rights defenders, promote religious tolerance, stop torture 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.

Country focus

Rank Country #Press Releases  % Total
1 United States 136 4.24
2 Israel (inc. West Bank and Gaza Strip) 128 3.99
3 Indonesia and East Timor 119 3.71
3 Turkey 119 3.71
4 People's Republic of China 115 3.58
5 Serbia and Montenegro 104 3.24
6 United Kingdom 103 3.21
7 India 85 2.65
8 USSR and Russian Federation 80 2.49
9 Rwanda 64 2.00
10 Sri Lanka 59 1.84
Source: Ronand et al. (2005:568)[4] Data for 1986–2000
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)[4] Data for 1986–2000

AI reports disproportionately on relatively more democratic and open countries,[41] 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 of the behavior of both key Western governments and major non-Western states is an important factor: as one former AI Secretary-General pointed out, "for many countries and a large number of people, the United States is a model," and according to one AI manager, "large countries influence small countries."[4] In addition, with the end of the Cold War, AI 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.[4]

According to one academic study, as a result of these considerations the frequency of AI's reports is influenced by a number of factors, besides the frequency and severity of human rights abuses. For example, AI 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.[4] In addition, around 1993–94, AI 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 AI's human rights concerns. This increases AI's focus on the countries the media is more interested in.[4]

AI's country focus is similar to that of some other comparable NGOs, notably Human Rights Watch: between 1991 and 2000, AI and HRW shared eight of ten countries in their "top ten" (by AI press releases; 7 for AI reports).[4] In addition, six of the 10 countries most reported on by Human Rights Watch in the 1990s also made The Economist's and Newsweek's "most covered" lists during that time.[4]


Amnesty International Sections, 2005
The AI Canadian headquarters in Ottawa.

Amnesty International is largely made up of voluntary members but retains a small number of paid professionals. In countries where Amnesty International has a strong presence, members are organised as 'sections'. Sections coordinate basic Amnesty International activities normally with a significant volume 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; 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; Norway; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; Togo; Tunisia; United Kingdom; United States of America; 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; Thailand; Turkey; Ukraine; Zambia; Zimbabwe
  • IEC Chairpersons
    Seán MacBride, 1965–1974; Dirk Börner, 1974–1977; Thomas Hammarberg, 1977–1979; José Zalaquett, 1979–1982; Suriya Wickremasinghe, 1982–1985; Wolfgang Heinz, 1985–1996; Franca Sciuto, 1986–1989; Peter Duffy, 1989–1991; Annette Fischer, 1991–1992; Ross Daniels, 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
  • General Secretaries
General Secretary Office
Peter BenensonUnited Kingdom Peter Benenson 1961–1966
Eric BakerUnited Kingdom Eric Baker 1966–1968
Martin EnnalsUnited Kingdom Martin Ennals 1968–1980
Thomas HammarbergSweden Thomas Hammarberg 1980–1986
Avery BrundageUnited Kingdom Ian Martin 1986–1992
Pierre SanéSenegal Pierre Sané 1992–2001
Irene KhanBangladesh Irene Khan 2001–2010
Salil ShettyIndia Salil Shetty 2010 –


Criticism of Amnesty International (AI) includes claims of selection bias, ideological/foreign policy bias against either non-Western countries[42] or Western-supported countries, criticism of AI's policies relating to abortion,[43] and organisational continuity.[42] Governments who have criticised AI include those of Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,[44] the People's Republic of China,[45] Vietnam,[46] Russia[47] and the United States,[48] 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. The Catholic Church, among other institutions, has also criticized Amnesty for its stance on abortion.[43]

See also


a. ^ Anthropologist Linda Rabben refers to the origin of AI as a "creation myth" with a "kernel of truth": "The immediate impetus to form Amnesty did come from Peter Benenson’s righteous indignation while reading a newspaper in the London tube on 19 November 1960."[49] Historian Tom Buchanan traced the origins story to a radio broadcast by Peter Benenson in 1962. The 4 March 1962 BBC news story did not refer to a "toast to liberty", but Benenson said his tube ride was on 19 December 1960. Buchanan was unable to find the newspaper article about the Portuguese students in The Daily Telegraph for either month. Buchanan found many news stories reporting on the repressive Portuguese political arrests in The Times for November 1960.[50]


  1. ^ "History – The Meaning of the Amnesty Candle". Amnesty International. Retrieved 4 June 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "About Amnesty International". Amnesty International. Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Human Rights
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j James Ronand, Howard Ramos, Kathleen Rodgers (2005), "Transnational Information Politics: NGO Human Rights Reporting, 1986–2000", International Studies Quarterly (2005) 49, 557–587
  5. ^ Elizabeth Keane (2006). An Irish Statesman and Revolutionary: The Nationalist and Internationalist Politics of Sean MacBride. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1845111257. 
  6. ^ a b Benenson, Peter (28 May 1961). "The forgotten prisoners". The Observer. Retrieved 19 September 2006. 
  7. ^ Benenson, P. (1983). Memoir
  8. ^ Buchanan, T. (2002). "The Truth Will Set You Free': The Making of Amnesty International". Journal of Contemporary History 37 (4): 575–97. doi:10.1177/00220094020370040501. 
  9. ^ Amnesty International Report 1962. Amnesty International. 1963. 
  10. ^ Amnesty International Report 1968-69. Amnesty International. 1969. 
  11. ^ Amnesty International Report 1979. Amnesty International. 1980. 
  12. ^ United Nations Prize in the field of Human Rights
  13. ^ Amnesty International is accused of espionage
  14. ^ "Who we are". Amnesty International. Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  15. ^ "Legal lessons of Pinochet case". 
  16. ^ uncredited (31 February 2000). "Pinochet appeal fails". BBC News. Retrieved 9 February 2009. 
  17. ^ Amnesty International Report 2002. Amnesty International. 2003. 
  18. ^ "'American Gulag'". The Washington Post. 26 May 2005. Retrieved 2 October 2006. 
  19. ^ "Bush says Amnesty report 'absurd'". BBC. 31 May 2005. Retrieved 2 October 2006. 
  20. ^ Amnesty International Report 2005: the state of the world’s human rights. Amnesty International. 2004. 
  21. ^ "Amnesty International Becomes a Pro-Choice Organization". 21 August 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Reports: 'Disastrous' Iraqi humanitarian crisis". CNN. 17 March 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2008. 
  24. ^ "Mobile Giving Foundation- Charities". Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  25. ^ "Israel used human shields: Amnesty". Fairfax Digital. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
  26. ^ "UN must ensure Goldstone inquiry recommendations are implemented". 15 September 2009. 
  27. ^ Aaronovitch, David, "How Amnesty chose the wrong poster-boy; Collaboration with Moazzam Begg, an extremist who has supported jihadi movements, looks like a serious mistake," The Times, 9 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010
  28. ^ ""Amnesty chief suspended after attacking group's links to 'Britain's most famous Taliban supporter'", Daily Mail, 9 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010". 9 February 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  29. ^ "Bright, Martin, "Gita Sahgal: A Statement", ''Spectator'', 7 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010". 7 February 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  30. ^ "Joan Smith: Amnesty shouldn't support men like Moazzam Begg; A prisoner of conscience can turn into an apologist for extremism," The Independent, 11 February 2010, accessed 11 February 2010
  31. ^ ""Amnesty International on its work with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners," 11 February 2010, accessed 11 February 2010". 11 February 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  32. ^ "Salman Rushdie's statement on Amnesty International", The Sunday Times, 21 February 2010
  33. ^ MacShane, Member of British Parliament, Denis (10 February 2010). "Letter To Amnesty International from". Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  34. ^ Phillips, Melanie (14 February 2010). "The human wrongs industry spits out one of its own". The Spectator. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  35. ^ Smith, Joan, "Joan Smith: Amnesty shouldn't support men like Moazzam Begg; A prisoner of conscience can turn into an apologist for extremism", The Independent, 11 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
  36. ^ Hitchens, Christopher, "Christopher Hitchens: Amnesty International's suspension of conscience", The National Post, 17 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
  37. ^ Bright, Martin, "Amnesty International, Moazzam Begg and the Bravery of Gita Sahgal", The Spectator, 7 February 2010
  38. ^ "Misalliance; Amnesty has lent spurious legitimacy to extremists who spurn its values," The Times, 12 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
  39. ^ Cohen, Nick, "We abhor torture – but that requires paying a price; Spineless judges, third-rate politicians and Amnesty prefer an easy life to fighting for liberty," The Observer, 14 February 2010, 17 February 2010
  40. ^ "Amnesty International defends access to abortion for women at risk". 14 June 2007. 
  41. ^ Amnesty International "Amnesty International response to Andrés Ballesteros et al.", AMR 23/006/2007, 21 February 2007. Retrieved on 4 February 2009.
  42. ^ a b Bernstein, Dennis (2002). "Interview: Amnesty on Jenin – Dennis Bernstein and Dr. Francis Boyle Discuss the Politics of Human Rights". Covert Action Quarterly. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  43. ^ a b Crary, David (26 July 2007). July 2007-1742525477_x.htm "Furor Over Amnesty's Abortion Stance". USA Today. July 2007-1742525477_x.htm. Retrieved 9 February 2009. 
  44. ^ "DR Congo blasts Amnesty International report on repression", The Namibian, 14 January 2000. Retrieved 15 May 2006.
  45. ^ The U.S. and China This Week, U.S.-China Policy Foundation, 16 February 2001. Retrieved 15 May 2006.
  46. ^ "The Cream of The Diplomatic Crop from Ha Noi.", THIÊN LÝ BỬU TÒA. Retrieved 15 May 2006.
  47. ^ "Russian official blasts Amnesty International over Chechnya refugees", Human Rights Violations in Chechnya, 22 August 2003. Retrieved 15 May 2006.
  48. ^ Press Briefing By Scott McClellan, The White House, 25 May 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2006.
  49. ^ Rabben, Linda (2001). "Amnesty International: Myth and Reality". AGNI (Boston, Massachusetts: Boston University) (54). Retrieved 25 September 2008. 
  50. ^ Buchanan, Tom (October 2002). "'The Truth Will Set You Free': The Making of Amnesty International". Journal of Contemporary History 37 (4): 575–597. doi:10.1177/00220094020370040501. Retrieved 25 September 2008. 

Further reading

  • Amnesty International (2005). Amnesty International Report 2006: The State of the World’s Human Rights. Amnesty International. ISBN 0-86210-369-X. 
  • Clarke, Anne Marie (2001). Diplomacy of Conscience: Amnesty International and Changing Human Rights Norms. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05743-5. 
  • Hopgood, Stephen (2006). Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-4402-0. 
  • Power, Jonathan (1981). Amnesty International: The Human Rights Story. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-08-028902-9. 
  • Sellars, Kirsten (April 2002). The Rise and Rise of Human Rights. Sutton Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0750927550. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Amnesty International (founded 1961) is an international non-governmental organization that works to promote the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international standards.

Peter Benenson

  • "On 28 May 1961 I wrote an article in The Observer newspaper which gave birth to Amnesty International. It began with these words: 'Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a report from somewhere in the world 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.'

Forty years on, Amnesty International has secured many victories. Its files are full of letters from former prisoners of conscience or torture victims thanking the organisation for making a difference. Torture is now banned by international agreement. Every year more countries reject the death penalty. The world will soon have an International Criminal Court that will be able to ensure that those accused of the worst crimes in the world will face justice. The Court's very existence will deter some crimes.

But the challenges are still great. Torture is banned but in two-thirds of the world's countries it is still being committed in secret. Too many governments still allow wrongful imprisonment, murder or "disappearance" to be carried out by their officials with impunity.

Those who today still feel a sense of impotence can do something: they can support Amnesty International. They can help it to stand up for freedom and justice.

In 1961 I wrote 'Pressure of opinion a hundred years ago brought about the emancipation of the slaves'. Pressure of opinion is now needed to help Amnesty International achieve its ultimate objective: to close for business. Only then, when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world's people, will our work be done." [[1]]

Simple English

Amnesty International (also called AI or Amnesty) is an international organisation. They fight for human rights. For example, they help people who have been put in prison for their political beliefs. Amnesty International also fights to end the use of death penalty worldwide.

What they believe in

Amnesty International is based on these central ideas:

  • Every person has human rights. Human rights cannot be taken away from a person. They are natural laws that are the right of all human beings from their birth on.
  • Human rights cannot be divided. When one right is taken away, this is also bad for other rights. When one right is protected, other rights are in a better position as well.
  • Human rights will not be protected by governments alone. Governments have said they will protect human rights, and then not acted upon it. Human rights organisations have to influence the governments.
  • To protect human rights, people must help other people. Danger for human rights starts at the level of single persons. To help one person means to stop the danger from growing. One person alone can do this.
  • To defend human rights, an organization must be independent and impartial. It should not be for or against any one ideology. An ideology is a certain point of view. It can be political, economic, or religious. Also, the organization should not say one country is the "worst". It should focus on the individual and all individuals.

Other websites

Amnesty International Website

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