About Amnesty International

Mission and vision

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. We are campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.

We are funded by members and people like you. We are independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion. No government is beyond scrutiny. No situation is beyond hope. 

Few would have predicted when we started that torturers would become international outlaws. That most countries would abolish the death penalty. And seemingly untouchable dictators would be made to answer for their crimes.

History

In 1961 an article, the forgotten prisoners, appeared in The Observer newspaper of London. It was written by British lawyer, Peter Benenson, and described his disgust at the global trend of imprisoning, torturing or executing people because their political or religious views were unacceptable to their governments.

Benenson was outraged by the story of two Portuguese students who were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for raising a toast to freedom. This prompted him to write the momentous article that expressed his vision of collective action that defines Amnesty International’s work today.

Amnesty International expanded from a single office to today’s major human rights organisation, holding at its heart political impartiality, independence from governments, and rigorous accuracy of information.

In 2011 Amnesty International celebrated its 50th anniversary with global actions throughout the year focusing on the death penalty, freedom of expression, reproductive rights, international justice and halting corporate abuse.

Today we are introducing a new, global approach to working, with regional hubs for research, campaigns and communications. Read more history on Amnesty.org.

What are human rights?

Human rights are the basic freedoms and protections that people are entitled to simply because they are human beings. They are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights are universal: They belong to everyone, regardless of race, sexuality, citizenship, gender, nationality, ethnicity, or ability.

  • Human rights are the basic freedoms and protections that people are entitled to simply because they are human beings. They are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Human rights are universal: They belong to everyone, regardless of race, sexuality, citizenship, gender, nationality, ethnicity, or ability.  
  • Human rights are inherent: We are all born with human rights. They belong to people simply because they are human beings.
  • Human rights are inalienable: They cannot be taken away. No person, corporation, organisation or government can deprive a person of his or her rights.  
  • Human rights can be violated: Although they are inalienable, they are not invulnerable. Violations can prevent people from enjoying their rights, but they do not stop the rights existing.
  • Human rights are essential: They are essential for freedom, justice, and peace.