Is it the monarchy and royal family? Harrods? Big Ben? Double decker buses? Shakespeare’s Globe? Afternoon tea?
While all lovely, and quintessentially British, I would argue that the answer is Amnesty International.
Nearly 60 years ago, a British lawyer was appalled at the jailing of two students who expressed their belief in freedom. His voice was amplified by the concerns of others (long before ideas became viral via social media) and Amnesty International was born.
Amnesty International’s campaigns for human rights created global social change, international laws, and justice for the tortured, the voiceless, and the powerless. Dictators have been tried and toppled. Policies have been enacted and new levels of understanding and awareness have spread worldwide.
“Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done.” – Peter Benenson, Amnesty International founder
Their scope of work is enormous — armed conflict, climate change, corporate accountability, death penalty, detention, disappearances, discrimination, freedom of expression, indigenous peoples, international justice, living in dignity, refugees/asylum-seekers and migrants, sexual and reproductive rights, torture, United Nations, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — all of which is accomplished with private donations and an exceptional level of governance and transparency.
Each of these human rights areas are profound, but it was reading the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that made me realize that the articles are as relevant in 2019 as when adopted in 1948. Here are a few:
- Article 1 — All human beings are born free and equal.
- Article 14 — Everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution.
- Article 26 — Everyone has the right to education.
- Article 29 — We have a duty to other people and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
I land in London today and in between having tea and exploring the city’s landmarks, I just may stop at the Amnesty International headquarters to say, “well done.” If you are compelled to act, visit their website to make your voice heard.
Oh, and one more best London idea to note? J. K. Rowling was working at Amnesty International when she came up with the idea for Harry Potter.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO