Amnesty International: It's History, Web page, and Criticisms

Essay by ahnkadragonUniversity, Master'sA+, April 2006

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Amnesty International (commonly known as AI) is an international activist organization with the stated purpose of promoting all the human rights enshrined within the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international standards. AI's efforts most notably involve campaigns to free all prisoners of conscience; to ensure fair and prompt trails for political prisoners; to abolish the death penalty, torture, and other treatment of prisoners it AI regards as cruel; to end political killings and forced disappearances; and to oppose all human rights abuses, whether by governments or groups (Amnesty 'About'). Amnesty International is also known as a non-political organization; they accept no funding from any government or group as to remain impartial. In this paper I will present a case study of the Amnesty International and their website,


The recently deceased British Lawyer Peter Benenson founded AI in 1961 because he

Shocked and angered to come across the story of two Portuguese students sentenced to jail just for raising their glasses with a toast to freedom; their sentence was for seven years.

Benenson decided to write a letter to his local newspaper's editor encouraging readers to write letters showing support for the students. The response was overwhelming. Within a year, groups of letter writers had formed in more then a dozen countries, writing to defend victims of injustice around the world. By the mid-60s, AI had groups forming around the globe and a now very recognizable symbol spearheading their efforts: the candle and barbed-wire logo that is still their trademark today (amnesty 'first 40 years').

In their infancy, AI focused only on articles 18 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human rights, those dealing with political prisoners. Gradually, the organization expanded its mission to include preventing and ending grave abuses of...