Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty and AI) is a non-governmental organization that works for the upliftment of human rights and has a supporter list of close to 7 million around the world. There are members of Amnesty International in more than 140 countries and territories around the world.
AI throws light on human rights violations by governments, armed political groups, companies, etc., via different sources like newsletters, annual reports, and background papers. This topic is relevant for all IAS exam aspirants.
Why in the news?
As of September 2020, Amnesty International has stopped all its human rights operations in India post-Indian government froze its bank accounts. Read the entire issue in brief on BYJU’S September CNA – 30th September.
The candidates can read more related information from the links provided below:
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Amnesty International (AI)
- Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for human rights.
- Its members give freely of their time and energy in solidarity with the victims of human rights violations.
- It is a campaigning organization.
- It researches, documents and reports on human rights abuses, but its work does not end there.
- AI members take practical, effective action to stop these abuses.
- Amnesty International is organised to make it possible for ordinary people to speak up – to protest on behalf of other human beings who are in danger.
- The work of Amnesty International is built upon international solidarity.
- Its members come from many different cultures and backgrounds, with widely different beliefs, united by a determination to work for a world where everyone enjoys human rights.
When was Amnesty International formed?
The Amnesty International was formed in July 1961, in London, United Kingdom by the lawyers-Peter Benenson and Philip James. Amnesty draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance with international laws and standards. It works to mobilize public opinion to generate pressure on governments where abuse takes place.
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How is Amnesty International Structured?
- 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 organized as “sections”. Sections co-ordinate basic Amnesty International activities normally with a significant number of members, some of whom will form into “groups”, and professional staff.
- They also co-ordinate basic activities but have a smaller membership and 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.
- The organization is headed by a secretary-general for its day to day functions.
The following table gives a list of the secretary-general (s) over the years.
|Secretary-General (s) of Amnesty International|
|Name||Tenure||Country of Origin|
|Kumi Naidoo||2018-2020||South Africa|
|Julie Verhaar||2020-2021 (Acting)|
What is the objective of Amnesty International?
The main objective of Amnesty International is to conduct rigorous research and initiate measures to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to provide justice for the deprived section of the community.
The movement is organised to make it possible for ordinary people to speak up – to protest on behalf of other human beings who are at risk of abuse.
What are the areas of work looked into by Amnesty International?
The major areas that are covered by Amnesty International include –
- Women’s, children’s, minorities’ and indigenous rights
- Ending torture
- Abolition of the death penalty
- Rights of refugees
- Rights of prisoners of conscience
- Protection of human dignity.
Vision of Amnesty International
- Its 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, AI’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.
To know more, read about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the linked article.
Guiding Principles of Amnesty International
All AI’s work is guided by the principles of:
- International solidarity,
- Effective action for the individual victim,
- Global coverage,
- Universality and indivisibility of human rights,
- Impartiality and independence,
- Democracy and mutual respect.
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