Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty
or AI) is an international non-governmental organization
which defines its mission as "to undertake
research and action focused on preventing and
ending 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."
Founded in the UK in 1961, AI draws its attention
to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance
with international standards. It works to mobilize
public opinion which exerts pressure on individuals
who perpetrate abuses. The organization was awarded
the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its "campaign
against torture" and the UN Human Rights
Prize in 1978, but has received criticism for
both alleged anti-Western and alleged pro-Western
are five key areas which Amnesty deals with: Women's
Rights, Children's Rights, Ending Torture and
Execution, Rights of Refugees and Rights of Prisoners
of Conscience. Some specific aims are to abolish
the death penalty, end extrajudicial 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, 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, and to uphold
the rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.
This organization helps women all around the world.
International targets not only governments, but
also non governmental bodies and private individuals
(non state actors).
further these aims, Amnesty International has
developed several techniques to publicize information
and mobilize public opinion. The organization
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 by 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.
to mobilize 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.
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 one of its key strengths.
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 organized 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 organizational
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.
organizations 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.
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 organization’s
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 programs; International Law and Organizations;
Research; Campaigns; Mobilization; and Communications.
Its offices have been located in London since
its establishment in the mid-1960s.
International is financed largely by fees and
donations from its worldwide membership. It does
not accept donations from governments or governmental
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