Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. Their vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Amnesty is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. It does not support or oppose any government or political system, nor does it support or oppose the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect. It is concerned solely with the impartial protection of human rights.
AI has a varied network of members and supporters around the world. At the latest count, there were more than 2.2 million members, supporters and subscribers in over 150 countries and territories in every region of the world. Although they come from many different backgrounds and have widely different political and religious beliefs, they are united by a determination to work for a world where everyone enjoys human rights.
AI's national sections, members and supporters are primarily responsible for funding the movement. While it is claimed that they do not accept government funds, AI has admitted to receiving funds from the UK government.
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 forced "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, immigrants and asylum seekers
In 2007, a senior Vatican cardinal, Cardinal Renato Martino, has urged Roman Catholics to stop donating to Amnesty International because of its new policy advocating abortion rights for women in cases of rape, incest or if they face health risks. Cardinal Martino, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, accused Amnesty of turning its back on its mission to defend human rights. (Work on your contraception policy before you do that, yes?)
Amnesty International has often been accused of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias themselves in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict by defenders of Israel, especially among conservatives. In 2015, Amnesty International was under scrutiny for refusing to condemn antisemitism in the United Kingdom despite their willingness to condemn Islamophobia.
Amnesty International has come under fire, however, from feminists, the Roman Catholic Church, and tons of media outlets the world over when it moved to have prostitution decriminalized. It has received backing from several groups, such as Sex Workers' Rights. This is just one example of the reactions to Amnesty International's controversial take on prostitution.
- Catholic Church speaks out against Amnesty