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Amnesty International facts for kids

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Amnesty International
Motto It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Founded July 1961; 62 years ago (1961-07)
United Kingdom
Founder Peter Benenson
Type Non-profit
Headquarters London, England, UK
  • Global
Services Protecting human rights
Fields Legal advocacy, Media attention, direct-appeal campaigns, research, lobbying
More than 7 million members and supporters
Kumi Naidoo

Amnesty International (commonly known as Amnesty or AI) is a non-governmental organization based in the United Kingdom focused on human rights. The organization claims it has more than seven million members and supporters around the world.

Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961, following the publication of the article "The Forgotten Prisoners" in The Observer on 28 May 1961, by the lawyers Peter Benenson and Philip James.

The stated mission of the organization is to campaign for "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 instruments."

Amnesty draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance with international laws and standards. It works to mobilize public opinion to generate pressure on governments that let abuse take place. Amnesty considers capital punishment to be "the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights."

The organization was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its "defence of human dignity against torture," and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978.

In the field of international human rights organizations, Amnesty has the third longest history, after the International Federation for Human Rights.


Peter Benenson
Peter Benenson the founder of Amnesty International

There are six key areas which Amnesty deals with:

Some specific aims are to: abolish the death penalty, end extra judicial executions and disappearances, ensure prison conditions meet international human rights standards, ensure prompt and fair trial for all political prisoners, ensure free education to all children worldwide, end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, protect human rights defenders, promote religious tolerance, protect LGBT rights, stop unlawful killings in armed conflict, uphold the rights of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers, and protect human dignity.


Amnesty International is financed largely by fees and donations from its worldwide membership. It says that it does not accept donations from governments or governmental organizations. According to the AI website,

"these personal and unaffiliated donations allow Amnesty International (AI) to maintain full independence from any and all governments, political ideologies, economic interests or religions. We neither seek nor accept any funds for human rights research from governments or political parties and we accept support only from businesses that have been carefully vetted. By way of ethical fundraising leading to donations from individuals, we are able to stand firm and unwavering in our defence of universal and indivisible human rights."

However, Amnesty International has received grants over the past ten years from the UK Department for International Development, the European Commission, the United States State Department and other governments.

Amnesty International USA has received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, but these funds are only used "in support of its human rights education work." It has also received many grants from the Ford Foundation over the years.

Awards and honours

Aung San Suu Kyi - Visits Dublin (7408454526)
In 2018, AI stripped Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.

In 1977, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "having contributed to securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world".

In 1984, Amnesty International received the Four Freedoms Award in the category of Freedom of Speech.

In 1991, Amnesty International was awarded the journalistic prize Golden Doves for Peace by the "Archivio Disarmo" Research Center in Italy.

Cultural impact

Human rights concerts

Opening stages of the 19 September 1988 show at Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium.

A Conspiracy of Hope was a short tour of six benefit concerts on behalf of Amnesty International that took place in the United States during June 1986. The purpose of the tour was not to raise funds but rather to increase awareness of human rights and of Amnesty's work on its 25th anniversary. The shows were headlined by U2, Sting and Bryan Adams and also featured Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, and The Neville Brothers. The last three shows featured a reunion of The Police. At a press conference in each city, at related media events, and through their music at the concerts themselves, the artists engaged with the public on themes of human rights and human dignity. The six concerts were the first of what subsequently became known collectively as the Human Rights Concerts – a series of music events and tours staged by Amnesty International USA between 1986 and 1998.

Human Rights Now! was a worldwide tour of twenty benefit concerts on behalf of Amnesty International that took place over six weeks in 1988. Held not to raise funds but to increase awareness of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on its 40th anniversary and the work of Amnesty International, the shows featured Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, and Youssou N'Dour, plus guest artists from each of the countries where concerts were held.

Artists for Amnesty

Amnesty International, through its "Artists for Amnesty" programme, has also endorsed various cultural media works for what its leadership often consider accurate or educational treatments of real-world topics that fall within the range of Amnesty's concern:

  • A is for Auschwitz
  • At the Death House Door
  • Blood Diamond
  • Bordertown
  • Catch a Fire
  • In Prison My Whole Life
  • Invictus
  • Lord of War
  • Rendition
  • The Constant Gardener
  • Tibet: Beyond Fear
  • Trouble the Water
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Django Unchained
  • The Help

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Amnistía Internacional para niños

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