More voices: Making more noise about human rights

Having emerged on the other side of the 2011 Amnesty International ICM with an extensive global Amnesty family, we should never forget how international we are. The strength of our international relationships within the movement, as well as our partnerships, has brought us to where we are today, on our 50th anniversary.

However, we are still in a situation where many countries are still without Amnesty International sections but are facing human rights abuses, not necessarily because they want to be but because it is politically dangerous for people of these countries to demonstrate views that are in opposition to the government’s. As Aung San Suu Kyi stated in her video statement to the ICM, “Amnesty is almost synonymous with human rights,” so we should continue to strive to help empower those who want to fight human rights violations.

On Amnesty International’s 50th birthday, there is still a strong divide between the global North and South. However, with continued work to empower more people in the South, we can aim for an evenly spread Amnesty, all over the world. Despite this hope, the ultimate goal would be for us to no longer need to exist. This must not take the form of growth, but rather, empowerment, impact and activism in local communities, sharing concrete and strategic ideas in order for people to feel inspired and confident enough to take action.

Empowerment comes through skills sharing, and where we need to go next is towards more global skills sharing events. Furthermore, empowerment should not be a one-way process, but a discussion and a dialogue about what is done well already in the global South and North, including countries that would like an Amnesty International section, because everyone has as much to learn as the other.

We have seen that Amnesty International is a human organisation that is dependant on people for its successes and failures. It means that we’re fallible, but that at the same time we can gain strength from any challenges we encounter.

About Michelle Kelly

Michelle Kelly is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York, UK. This blog is produced by students on her Literature and Human Rights MA module.
This entry was posted in Blogs, English, Looking to the future. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More voices: Making more noise about human rights

  1. Dave Callis says:

    I have a comment to make about the issue of Amnesty and its global coverage of members. I agree that Amnesty is under represented in relation to members in the Global South and this should be addressed. However there is still what I believe to be a major issue in the Global North and that is the lack of people who clearly don’t see “human rights”. For instance I have campaigned on a stall for Amnesty in a busy street vociferously in the UK and gained only about 10% interest with many people hurrying by. I received a myriad of refusals when asked for their help in tackling human rights issues with the vast majority passing without a word. Now why is this ? Also I’ve just finished an MA in human rights and couldn’t clearly get an academic answer to this question. Was wondering did the ICM reflect on this question at any point, particularly in relation to attracting members from the Global South ?

  2. Thanks for your comment. There is no simple answer, but these are issues that were at the forefront of the ICM.

    We’re working at a section and global level on human rights education, which helps people to engage more with the issues Amnesty International is working on.

    We also look at local relevance, as discussed throughout the ICM (please do read some of the blogs on this issue). In some situations local relevance is a driving factor for engagement with an issue or campaign. This is true for parts of the Global South but is also seen in the Global North, such as issues around security and human rights in the USA. Bridging global and local work is not easy but one way Amnesty tries to address this is by displaying the impact that solidarity action has on achieving direct change.

    Working in human rights activism is a process of constant learning – we hope that you will continue to work with Amnesty International to find creative solutions for these important issues.

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