Have you ever thought of how many people in the world face injustice and human rights violations every day? What about how such victims feel? Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization that seeks to achieve a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. Its headquarters are in London and its logo is a burning candle wrapped in barbed wire.
How it Began
Over the years, issues of human rights protection have attracted critical attention throughout the world. Amnesty International was formed for this same reason. It was founded in London in 1961, by British lawyer, Peter Benenson, who had defended political prisoners in Hungary, South Africa, and Spain and who sought to establish a collective agency for the advancement of human rights. Benenson wrote an article in ‘The Observer newspaper’ and launched a campaign to get the public to support the course of justice. The article, reprinted in newspapers across the world, provoked the idea that people everywhere can stand in solidarity for justice and freedom.
What it Does
Since it was established, Amnesty International has sought to publicize violations by governments and other entities of rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), especially freedom of speech and conscience and the right against torture. The NGO actively seeks the release of political prisoners and when necessary, the relief of their families. It works to protect and empower people to abolish the death penalty, protect sexual and reproductive rights, combat discrimination, and defend refugees’ rights among others. For these and other activities, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1977.
The organization works with intergovernmental human rights bodies to expand and enforce human rights protections in international law. It consists of national sections, in more than 50 countries and some three million individual members, donors, and affiliated activists in more than 150 countries and territories. Amnesty International is independent of any political ideology, economic interest, or religion and thrives on voluntary donations from the public.
How It Works
The Amnesty International research department at the London headquarters is in contact with human rights activists and other interested parties around the world and provides a network of information for all the organization’s publications and activities. It helps to expose human rights violations by governments, armed political groups, companies, and other nonstate actors in newsletters, annual reports, and background papers. The organization relies strongly on the worldwide distribution of “adoption groups,” each of which is staffed by three to eight persons. Each group takes on a limited number of cases and barrages the offending government with letters of protest until the prisoners are released.
Other activities include organizing demonstrations and vigils, sponsoring human rights education, and circulating online petitions and alerts.
No government is beyond scrutiny. No situation is beyond hope- Amnesty International.
Information from https://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are/, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Amnesty-International and https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1977/amnesty/history/ was used in this story