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Role of Interest Groups

Case Study – Amnesty International

Origins

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a British lawyer. It was originally his intention to launch an appeal in Britain with the aim of obtaining an amnesty for prisoners of conscience all over the world (1).

Aims

  • Currently their main project is to help Immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers across Europe.
  • They also campaign to have the death penalty removed.
  • As well as this they campaign for Human Rights across 150 countries worldwide. 

What kind of group are they?

  • They are a cause/promotional group, meaning that anyone can join and they aim to better society with their projects.
  • They are also a non-governmental organisation – as they are a group that draws members from more than one country and is active at an international level

Insider or Outsider?

  • They are an outsider group meaning they do not have links to the government, however they have on occasion been consulted by inter-governmental organisations such as the UN.

Actions

  • They have various methods, such as: Media attention, direct-appeal campaigns and Legal advocacy.  
  • They use different ways to raise money for their causes, for example sponsored Bike rides and races are used to make money. Also members have recently taken part in a charity Trek of Machu Picchu in Peru.

Membership

  • At the latest count, there were more than seven million members, supporters and activists in over 150 countries and territories in every region of the world. The International Secretariat presides over 50 sections, including Amnesty International UK, which coordinate and develop campaign activities within a country (2). 

Successes

  • They have had a lot of success over the years. One of their most recent victories was gaining the release of Shaker Aamer, the last UK citizen being held captive in Guantanamo Bay. He was held there for 13 years.
  • They have worked with big names such as Nelson Mandela, during their campaigns and have received a noble piece Price for their work to secure justice.
  • They have also pressured large organizations like the UN to discuss the issue of human rights.

References 

  1. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1977/amnesty-history.html
  2. https://www.amnesty.org.uk/frequently-asked-questions        
Case study provided by Advanced Level Adviser - Zoe Lynes


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