Human rights have been a fundamental aspect in the globe that has attracted fierce debates. Organizations have been created that seek to uphold and protect human rights on a global scale. Such an organization is the Amnesty International that has the longest history in the field of human rights, in the world (James Ronand, Howard Ramos, and Kathleen Rodgers, 2005). The organization’s objective is to carry out research and come up with action plans to prevent and end grave human right abuses, and demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.
The Amnesty International goals and objectives to protecting and upholding human rights all over the world is informed and guided by the following. As was amended in August 12th to 20th 1995 , at Ljubljana, Slovenia, the universal declaration of human rights has to be observed, and to oppose all grave violations of the rights of each person to hold freely and exercise personal convictions, be free from discrimination, and right to physical and mental integrity. The right to oppose imprisonment, detentions or any physical restrictions imposed due to political, religious or any other conscientious belief held according to one’s ethnicity, sex, language, color, nationality, birth, economic status provided that the person has not used or advocated violence. Amnesty international works to have all prisoners and detainees among others who are held based on these scenarios/situations (Buchanan, T. 2002) released.
The organization protects detentions of political prisoners without a fair trial within a reasonable time, or the procedure used relating to such prisoners if they do not conform to international norms. The organization also checks death penalty and torture or any other inhuman, degrading treatment of detained persons whether they used or advocated violence. The organization seeks to protect people from extrajudicial execution whether imprisoned or not, restricted or detained and “disappearances”. Specifically, the organization seeks to abolish the death penalty, terminate extrajudicial executions and disappearances, promote economic, social and cultural rights, decriminalize abortion, end child soldiers, religious tolerance, protection of the LGBT persons rights, and promote education for all children. The time lines used in action depends on the case at hand in respect to its nature, location, emergency status or priority level, and information available. In scenarios that require immediate attention and action, Amnesty International makes use of the existing crisis response and action networks. It works with other alliances like anti-coup alliance, children’s rights alliances among others.
The organization uses several methods to achieve its mandates. It uses traditional strategy and public education. It has developed several ways of publicizing information and seeks to mobilize the opinion of the public. The reports published are impartial and accurate. To ensure that the reports are impartial and accurate, victims and officials are interviewed directly. Independent observation of trials is carried out, and collaboration with localized human rights activists as well as close monitoring of the media is used. Official missions are initiated to foreign countries that carry out independent and insistent inquiries. Campaigns for public opinion are carried out in the form of either individually, country or thematically.
The methods used by Amnesty international to attain its mandate are very effective. Using existing action channels has proved to be the best method in response to crises. The involvement of the stakeholders like the convicts, officials and the pubic also leads to high achievement especially on the originality of the information and hence avoids biases. Specific actions like writing letter also get specific attention and consequently specific result as anticipated.
There are several success stories of the Amnesty International. These include and not limited to;
- The release of Shi Tao of China on 23rd August 2013 whose sentence was reduced by 15 months due the intervention of the organization.
- In 2012, Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú of Mexico were raped by Mexican soldiers who then disapproved the allegations. Amnesty international wrote several letters to the government until the government took personal responsibility for the rape and sexual abuse and enacted two Public Acts of acknowledgement in 2012.
- Mansour Ossanlu of Iran was released after been detained since 2007 on 2011 after the intervention of the organization. He was detained for defending workers’ rights.
However, there are challenges and criticism of Amnesty International. Cases of corruption have been reported in the organization. In 2011, it was alleged that Irene Khan received an excess of four times her annual payment (Tania Mason, 2011). This and other cases of irregular payments have led to sustained public outcry on the management of the money that is entirely donated for good cause. There are reports that the body has been acting selectively with biases toward some countries either in action or ideologically (Bernstein, Dennis, 2002). Allegations on biases toward United Kingdom and United States have been made on several occasions.
Conclusion and recommendations
Amnesty international is largely been a successful organization. It has proved to be the world watchdog of human rights. However, as one of the organizations that exercise human rights, the cases of mismanagement of funds is detrimental to both the organization and the people it seeks to protect. Therefore, measures have to be taken to ensure that this does not occur. The organization needs to avoid biases.
- Bernstein, Dennis. "Interview: Amnesty on Jenin – Dennis Bernstein and Dr. Francis Boyle Discuss the Politics of Human Rights". Covert Action Quarterly (2002). Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- Tania Mason, Charity Commission has 'no jurisdiction' over board member's payment from Amnesty, civilsociety.co.uk, 21 February 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- Buchanan, T. "The Truth Will Set You Free': The Making of Amnesty International". Journal of Contemporary History 37 (4): 575–97. (2002). doi:10.1177/00220094020370040501 . JSTOR 3180761.
- James Ronand, Howard Ramos, Kathleen Rodgers "Transnational Information Politics: NGO Human Rights Reporting, 1986–2000", (2005), International Studies Quarterly (2005) 49, 557–587