A mnesty International is established in 1961, the story of two Portuguese students sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for raising a toast to freedom horrified British lawyer Peter Benenson. He wrote to the British newspaper, The Observer, calling for an international campaign to bombard authorities around the world with protests about the “forgotten prisoners”. Today Amnesty has grown to become a global non-governmental organization with more than 2. 8 million members in more than 150 countries and regions.
It was awarded in 1977 with the Nobel Peace Prize of ‘having contributed to securing the ground for freedom, for justice and thereby also for peace in the world. They send researches around the globe to document cases of human rights violations. They stop human rights abuses by mobilizing the public to put pressure on governments, armed political groups, companies and intergovernmental bodies by; public demonstrations, vigils, letter-writing campaigns, human rights education, awareness-raising concerts, direct lobbing etc.
The UN and its human rights-related bodies have always played a key role in Amnesty’s activities in the international sphere. As Amnesty International perceives interaction with IGOs as highly important for promoting human rights standards, co-operation with them forms part of its mandate. Laid out in its statutes, Amnesty seeks to ‘encourage intergovernmental organizations to support and respect human rights’. Amnesty drives a large programme of activities with the UN.
It also works together with specialized agencies of the UN such as the International Labour Organization and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Amnesty has maintained relations with the UN since the 1960s when it recognized it could use the UN to achieve its objectives. Over the years, it has established a leading position among internationally operating human rights NGOs. Today, it is one of the largest and most active human rights organizations operating within the UN context.
Amnesty activities at the level of international organizations today include; the development and implementation of human rights standards in countries domestic national legislation; the provision of information about human rights abuses and lobbying and supporting UN bodies and committees dealing with human rights issues through advice and recommendations. Amnesty International has increasingly participated within the forum of the United Nations, it shapes their processes and programs by different approaches.
Today Amnesty collaborates with the UN in agenda-setting activities and advice its commissions and committees, but they also provide them with information on issues of their concern. UN and Amnesty work in co-operation and implement projects together. With this interaction Amnesty gains greater opportunities to advance their objectives and goals. These approaches supports to bring forward heir concerns to officials and pressure governmental delegates regarding their cause.
Amnesty started its first worldwide campaign to ban torture by pressuring governments. They have prepared an extensive report about the practice of torture in all regions of the world and appealed to the UN to draw up a convention forbidding torture. Amnesty is today often approached by the UN for its expertise and knowledge. Amnesty is the first human rights NGOs to begin to supply the UN with data on human rights abuses. They have become a principle supplier of documentation, no other NGO has matched it in the number of submissions made.
But through the years Amnesty changed its strategy and began trying to influence the agenda of the UN. It pushed for specific countries with bad human rights records to be on the agenda instead of following their recommendations. They have become more aggressive in monitoring the human rights obligation. Amnesty’s representatives and UN officials and their personal contacts allows the NGO to gain and feed in information which would otherwise not be accessible or distributed. They insure that information is exchanged on an almost daily basis.
A representative of the NGO provides a ‘friendly government’ with the information in order to bring it forward in UN contexts. Many activities thus take place on an informal basis and personal relations between AI staff and governmental representatives are, therefore, important factors. As a result of these tight bonds between the UN and Amnesty, information provision is mutual; in fact, Amnesty is often given information UN officials are unable to use. They supply it with the details and let the NGO take the initiative.
The reasons for this practice can be due to a lack of resources at the UN to deal with additional matters, but it is more often the case that Amnesty is provided with this information for political reasons. Amnesty’s interaction with the UN has changed through the years. They have created a tight and informal relation between them. Such findings raise follow-up question; can Amnesty still keep up a a ‘whatchdog’ function or are they increasingly disciplined by the UN? In fact Amnesty supplies the UN with reliable information that is in their concern.
Because of this relationship Amnesty can ensure its work. Amnesty maintains its full independence from any and all governments, political ideologies, economic interests or religions to not accept any kind of funds/donations. This strengthens Amnesty’s position. Amnesty recruits people for its relations with the UN on the basis of their training in the relevant subject matter. Such permanent and skilled representation enables the NGO to maintain constant and significant involvement with the UN.