Amnesty International is a global movement of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights. We work to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Currently the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, we investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world. We received the Nobel Peace Prize for our life-saving work.
The Amnesty International story shows the power of one person to literally change the world. In 1961, British lawyer Peter Benenson read a newspaper story about two Portuguese students who were jailed for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom. Appalled by this injustice, he was spurred to action. He published an appeal in The Observer newspaper urging readers to write letters on behalf of “prisoners of conscience” around the world. His appeal sparked an international grassroots campaign to protect human rights — and Amnesty International was born.
The Organization Today
With more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries, and complete independence from government, corporate or ideological interests, we work to protect human rights worldwide. Our global headquarters is based in London, and we have established organizations in 68 countries. Amnesty International USA is the largest country section of the organization with nearly 250,000 members, who work for human rights independently through national online networks, or with high school, college or community groups.
Amnesty International is funded by dedicated individual supporters and foundations to safeguard our objectivity and ensure that our research is not funded by governments and corporations. We thank these dedicated donors for their contributions to the fight for dignity and freedom.
Our vision is of a world in which every person — regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity — enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other internationally recognized human rights recognized human rights standards. The UDHR states “the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all people is “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
How We Work
Amnesty International unites people from all over the world to fight for human rights using our signature tactics:
Amnesty International keeps vigilant watch on the rights of people around the world and publishes hundreds of independent reports based on our rigorous research, free of corporate and government influence.
Through our dynamic campaigns and long-term casework, Amnesty International members propel key human rights concerns and stories of individuals at risk into the glare of the international media and demand the attention of government officials, corporations, international institutions and policy makers.
We combine high-level legislative work, media outreach and grassroots mobilization to shape and promote legislation and policies to advance human rights, protect individuals and free prisoners of conscience.
Because fact-based reports alone are not enough to persuade corporations, governments and others who hold power to respect human rights, Amnesty International builds and mobilizes the grassroots power of millions of people to effect change. Amnesty’s massive and unrelenting pressure has brought about transformational developments:
- Tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience have been released from unjust detention. This includes Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released after 15 years of detention following more than 20 years of Amnesty campaigning on her behalf;
- We garnered the public support necessary for the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and for individual governments to ratify the Convention and bring domestic laws into conformity with it;
- We generated the global support necessary for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, so that those responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity will face justice;
- Our decades-long campaign has led to the death penalty being abolished in law or practices in two-thirds of the world’s countries — a sea changes from the 1970s, when only 16 countries had abolished capital punishment;
- Our research and vigorous campaigning led to the enactment of the U.S. Tribal Law and Order Act to stop the epidemic of sexual assault of American Indian and Alaska Native women;
- Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.
For more information about Amnesty International USA, please visit www.aiusa.org.
Note. From “About Us,” by Amnesty International USA, http://www.aiusa.org/about-us/. Copyright 2011 by Amnesty International USA. Reprinted with permission.