Amnesty International

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 13, 2022, 12:15

Amnesty International is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that campaigns for human rights recognised by the international community and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It works with intergovernmental human rights bodies to enforce the protection of human rights in international law and has received a Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts. Amnesty has over 10 million members and supporters across 150 countries.

Here is everything you need to know about where and when was Amnesty International Established, its structure, and its mission.

Amnesty International - Overview

Amnesty is an international NGO that looks into human rights violations by governments, armed political groups, companies, and other non-state actors and seeks enforcement of human rights protections.

Amnesty International established itself in London in the 20th century, but its influence has since spread across 70 countries.

When was Amnesty International Established?

Amnesty International was founded by a British attorney, Peter Benenson, in 1961. Amnesty International Established itself in London because Peter Benenson wished to file an appeal in Britain to obtain amnesty for prisoners of conscience (persons arrested for their convictions, faith, ethnicity, or skin colour, and who have not used any force against others) across the world.

In 1963, the British organisation became international with the establishment of an international secretariat. It is an organisation independent of governments, political groups, ideologies, or religious divides, and its focus has expanded beyond the release of political prisoners to the abolition of the death penalty, protection of sexual and reproductive rights, and the enforcement of rights of refugees and migrants.

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Structure of Amnesty International

Amnesty is headed by the International Board that oversees the International Secretariat in London. The Board is called the International Executive Council and comprises 8 members elected for 2 years.

The Secretary-General is the CEO of the International Secretariat and is assisted by a team of Senior Directors. The current Secretary-General is Mr Salil Shetty.

The International Secretariat is responsible for research, reporting, and providing legal analysis to lobby international governmental organisations, providing endorsed material for campaigning, and monitoring the organisation's financial health. Two registered entities carry out these tasks - Amnesty International Limited and Amnesty International Charity Limited.

At the national and regional levels, Amnesty International has sections that lobby local governments, undertake campaigning and fundraising, recruit supporters, and conduct research on human rights abuses in their country.

On the local level, groups based on a community are formed as official units of the organisation and undertake campaigns, social media outreach, fundraising, education, and recruitment. Individual members of Amnesty must pay a membership fee, whereas supporters make donations to the organisation. Members with shared interests can also form networks.

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Amnesty International Mission

Amnesty International's goals are to -

  • Free all prisoners of conscience
  • Ensure fair and prompt trials
  • Abolish all forms of torture, ill-treatment of prisoners, and the death penalty
  • End state-sanctioned terrorism, killings, and disappearances
  • Assist political asylum-seekers
  • End all forms of violence against women
  • Co-operate with organisations that seek to put an end to human rights abuses
  • Raise awareness about human rights abuses around the world
  • Raise awareness of the threat that poverty is to human dignity and promotion of peace and justice

For over 50 years, Amnesty International has made groundbreaking achievements across the globe. Expanding outside of London, it has established itself across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

The organisation has been instrumental in fighting human rights abuses and voicing concerns regarding armed conflict, climate change, arms control, corporate accountability, the death penalty, discrimination, freedom of expression, rights of refugees, and torture.

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FAQs on Amnesty International

Q.1 When did Amnesty International win a Nobel Peace Prize?

Ans. Amnesty International was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for its defence of human dignity against torture.

Q.2 Where and when was Amnesty International established?

Ans. Amnesty International was established in London in 1961.

Q.3 Who is the present Secretary-General of Amnesty International?

Ans. The present Secretary-General of Amnesty International is Mr Salil Shah.

Q.4 Who established Amnesty International?

Ans. Peter Benenson established Amnesty International.