Amnesty International (AI)

Reference work entry
Part of the The Statesman's Yearbook book series (SYBK)

Origin. Founded in 1961 by British lawyer Peter Benenson as a one-year campaign for the release of prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International has grown to become a worldwide organization, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.

Activities. AI is a worldwide movement of people campaigning for human rights. It acts independently and impartially to promote respect for internationally recognized human rights standards.

Historically, the focus of AI’s campaigning has been: to free all prisoners of conscience (a term coined by Peter Benenson); to ensure a prompt and fair trial for all political prisoners; to abolish the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments; to end extrajudicial executions and ‘disappearances’; to fight impunity by working to ensure perpetrators of such abuses are brought to justice. AI is independent of any government or political ideology, and neither supports nor opposes the views of the victim it seeks to protect.

AI has over 3m. members, subscribers and regular donors in more than 150 countries. Major policy decisions are taken by an International Council comprising representatives from all national sections. AI’s national sections, members and supporters are primarily responsible for funding the movement. In 2015 Amnesty International raised €278m. for human rights work.

Every year AI produces a global report detailing human rights violations in all regions of the world.

  • International Secretariat: 1 Easton St., London, WC1X 0DW, UK.

  • Website:

  • Email:

  • Secretary-General: Salil Shetty (India).

Further Reading

  1. Power, Jonathan, Like Water on Stone: The Story of Amnesty International. 2001Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019

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