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In our talk we want to tell you about Amnesty International. We chose this topic, because last year, we had a young- AI- group and this
year, I’ve become member of the local group in Baden.
Today, we want to talk about its story of AI, the members, campaigns, the aims and the results.
First, I’ll tell you about the beginning of the organisation AI.
In 1961, a London lawyer, Peter Benenson read about a group of students in Portugal, who were arrested and jailed for raising a toast
to “freedom” in a public restaurant. This incident prompted him to launch a one year campaign called “Appeal Amnesty 1961” in the
“London Observer”, a local newspaper.
“Appeal for Amnesty” ? release of all people prisoned because of peaceful expression of their believes, politics, race, religion, colour or
(? no violence)
? Benenson: “prisoners of conscience”
He wanted people to write letters to governments of countries with prisoners of conscience. The campaign grew enormously - spread
to other countries-
By the end of ’61 AI was formed / AI was founded on the fact, that people have fundamental rights that transcend
national/cultural/religious/ ideological boundaries. Worked for fair trails for all prisoners of conscience. Based on the United Nations
Universal Declaration Human Rights.
Earliest activities: individual letter writing to governments/to families of the prisoners (to offer help)/ worked extremely well / AI works
for individuals not for countries or political systems and it does not want to change political systems.
During the late ‘60s, local groups were formed to specialise on certain cases and countries. They reached out for schools, churches,
business and labour unions. ? public work ?new members and resources
After some mistakes and consequent bad publicity, it was decided that members of AI should not work for their own countries, only on
cases outside their country. ( impartiality ? to ensure impartiality = except in cases capital punishment or refugee issues/ helps to
eliminate suspition of political motivation)
In early times, there were many professors or other higher educated people, working for AI. But since the ‘80s, this has changed ? more
young people (students) ? youth groups that organised events or public activities together with local groups.
Mid ‘80s: musicians/artists adopted AI as special concerts ? donated profits to the group. Tremendous growth and new visibility for the
Increased AI’s budget? new offices/ new staff all over the world.
All is effective because of its impartiality and its independence from all governments, political or religious factions and economic
interests. Mostly, there are volunteers carrying out the work of AI. They write letters to countries that abuse human rights (through
imprisonment, harassment, threats, physical mistreatment, torture, disappearances or politically- motivated murder):
write press- releaves
found letter- writing groups at their churches
For AI it is important to shop/prevent torture, to improve the conditions in the prisons and to give hope to the prisoners.
The aims of Amnesty International:
AI- members work for individuals or groups of people suffering the range of human rights violations in the organisation’s mandate
and not for countries or political systems. AI does not want to change political systems.
AI fights against extrajudical executions, disappearances, torture, politically- motivated murder, harassment, threats, physical
mistreatments, unfair trials, ill- treatment, detention without charge or trial and of course the death penalty
For AI it is important to improve the conditions in the prisons and to give hope to the prisoners.
The members write letters to the government or the families, who are affected in any way.
They also organise demonstrations, campaigns and other activities.
Amnesty International has specialist networks, who use their specialist expertise to campaign for victims of human rights violations.
These networks are:
The Medical Network:
this group includes some 10.000 members, organised in medical groups and networks in around 35 countries. The network took action
on 44 medical and urgent actions focussing on 24 countries.
The International Legal Network:
this network is very important for AI. Groups of lawyers, judges, magistrates, academics, law students and others work in many ways:
- they act as technical advisers to the movement;
- as links between the movement and the wider legal profession
- as defenders of victims of human rights abuses, including other human rights defenders and promoters of legal reforms.
The International Network on company Approaches:
AI- business groups try to develop their contacts with companies based in their countries through seminars, round- table
discussions, and smaller bilateral meetings at which AI promotes the responsibility of companies to adhere to human rights principles
throughout their practices.
The Inter- sectional Women’s Network:
Consists out of members and staff from AI- sections in at least 30 sections.
The Youth & Student Groups:
AI has about 4.000 youth or student groups world wide with contact people in at least 45 sections. These are often active campaigners
taking up the full range of AI concerns.
The International Working Groups for children:
There are coordinators of work on children’s human rights in at least 30 sections.
Amnesty International Members for Lesbian & Gay concerns:
At least 20 sections have contact people for this network, and in some countries these contacts represent a large number of active
member campaigning against human rights violations against individuals or groups because of their sexuality.
Military Security and Police (MSP) Contacts:
At least 20 sections have contact people working on MSP transfers, relate to human rights within AI’s mandate.
AI’s funding reflects its independence and its reliance on broad public support. The organisation gets no money from governments. The
hundreds of thousands of donations that sustain AI’s work come from the pocket of its members and the public, organisations,
foundations and companies.
The international budget is spent on professional research by AI staff into human rights violations world wide, on delegations that
observe trials and make representation to governments, and on the movement’s international public information campaigning and
The money is spent on research and action, campaigning Publication & Translation costs, human rights Education & Promotion
International Meetings, Administration cost of planning and audit, Human Technology Facility costs and on families, who are
effected by human rights violations.
The organisation’s nerve centre is the International Secretariat in London with more than 320 permanent staff and 95 volunteers
from more than 50 countries.
The secretary General is Pierre Sané.
Ai is governed by a nine- member International Executive Committee (IEC).
It comprises eight volunteer members, elected every two years by an International Council comprising representatives of the world wide
movement and an elected member of the International Secretariat.
Today, AI has more than one million members subscribers and regular donors in more than 160 countries and territories all over the
world. There are over 5.300 local AI groups registered with the International secret, in addition to the many thousands of schools,
universities, professional and other groups, which do not normally register internationally. There national organised sections in 55
countries, 33 of them in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the middle East and Central Europe.
AI worked on about 50.000 cases. 80% of them were successful.
The results of AI’s work are: better situations in prisons, new trials, less risk of torture and releases. But even 2 of 3 are suppressed
by the government.
1998: in 1998 AI organised 697 urgent actions. That are important actions, concerning humans who need help as fast as possible.
Ten thousands of humans were tortured in 125 countries. Some thousand humans died by beeing tortured and inhuman
situations in prisons.
The most executions took place in the USA, in China, in the Congo and the Iran.
Every year AI has some main campaigns. This year the organisation fights against human rights violences in the USA and Brasilia.
2.) the aims of AI
detention without charge-
3.) specialist networks
a bilateral meeting-
4.) the money
reliance an broad public support-
a release- Freilassung
Structure: 1.) the beginning of Amnesty International
2.) the aims of Amnesty International
3.) specialist Networks
4.) the money
some facts about Amnesty International:
1961 Amnesty International was formed by Peter Benenson
earliest activities: letter writing to governments & affected families
in the late 60’s local groups were formed. They reached out for schools, churches, business and labour unions to find new
members and resources
they ensured impartiality (= to except in cases capital punishment or refugee issues/helps to eliminate suspicion of political
since the 80’s there are youth groups
AI’s work is effective because of its impartiality and its independence from all governments, political or religious factions &
Their aims are: to fight against extrajudical executions, disappearances, torture, politically- motivated murder, harassment, threats,
physical punishment, unfair trials, ill- treatment, detention without charge or trial and the death penalty
Fight without violence: they write letters, organise demonstrations, campaigns, actions (urgent actions), etc.
AI has specialist networks, who use their specialist expertise to campaign for victims of human rights violations: the Medical
network, the International Legal network, the International network on Company Approaches, the Inter- sectional Women’s
network, the Youth & Student groups, the International Working groups for Children, AI Members for Lesbian & Gay concerns
and the Military Security & Police (MSP) Contacts
The organisation gets no money from governments. The money comes from the pockets of AI’s members & the public,
organisations, foundations and companies.
The organisation’s nerve centre is the International Secretariat in London
( ~ 320 permanent staff and 95 volunteers)
AI has more than one million members in over 160 countries. There are
about 3500 local groups all over the world.
The organisation has national organised sections in 55 countries
The results of AI’s work: 80% of about 50.000 cases successful,
better situations in prisons, new trials, less risk or torture, releases;