Amnesty International: Notes for UPSC Exam

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.

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 PIB Summary and Analysis page is important for a better understanding of government initiatives and announcements. Visit the page now!!

The following links will complement your UPSC preparation:

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

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
Peter Benenson 1961-1966 Britain
Eric Baker 1966-1968 Britain
Martin Ennals 1968-1980 Britain
Thomas Hammarberg 1980-1986 Sweden
Ian Martin 1986-1992 Britain
Pierre Sané 1992-2001 Senegal
Irene Khan 2001-2010 Bangladesh
Salil Shetty 2010-2018 India
Kumi Naidoo 2018-present South Africa

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.

Daily News

What are the areas of work looked into by Amnesty International?

The major areas that are covered by the Amnesty International include –

  1. Women’s, children’s, minorities’ and indigenous rights
  2. Ending torture
  3. Abolition of the death penalty
  4. Rights of refugees
  5. Rights of prisoners of conscience
  6. Protection of human dignity.

Candidates can familiarise themselves with the exam pattern by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page. For more UPSC related preparation materials and articles, visit the links given in the table below:

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