As stated by their homepage: "Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights." Founded in the UK in 1961, Amnesty works to highlight discrepancies between actual human rights practices and the internationally accepted standards, and lobbies for compliance where these have not been followed. It works to garner public support, most notably in the form of letter writing campaigns, in the belief that this can exert pressure on those who perpetrate abuses.
It was the winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize.
At the 27th International Council meeting, 2005, it was decided that:
"Amnesty International’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.
In pursuit of this vision, Amnesty International’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights."
This manifests itself as Amnesty's goals:
- Abolish capital punishment
- Put an end to extrajudicial executions and "disappearances"
- Put an end to torture and ill-treatment
- Put an end to unlawful killings in armed conflict
- Ensure conditions in prisons meet international standards of human rights
- Ensure rapid and fair trials for all prisoners of conscience
- Ensure free education to all children worldwide
- Put an end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers
- Promote economic, social and cultural rights for marginalised communities
- Protect human rights defenders
- Protect the rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers
One topic of particular controversy is the organisation's stance on abortion, as both pro- and anti-abortion members belong to Amnesty. At present, a neutral position is taken - that the work of Amnesty International in other areas is to important to be spoilt by factionalism over this issue.