Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

Be inspired

The people, the faces, the stories – 50 years of defending rights

Every day courageous and determined people stand up for human rights and show that it really is possible to change the world. In the fifty years since Amnesty International began they have achieved extraordinary things.

From artists like Fela Kuti defending freedom of expression to Hafez Ibrahim, whose text message to Amnesty International from a prison cell in Yemen saved – and changed – his life. These men and women tell us how their actions have made a difference.

Read on, be inspired and get involved…

Putting justice for the world’s poorest people within reach

Still from an animated film featuring a boy who sets off looking for justice when his village is bulldozed.

© Amnesty International

The Protocol “will provide an important platform to expose abuses that are often linked to poverty, discrimination and neglect”.

Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


Activists helped secure a new way of getting justice for people living in poverty.

  • A new Protocol can help put the spotlight on governments violating their people’s most basic rights.

Imagine your government decides to demolish your home without warning. You have no power to stop them, and no one listens when you demand that they stop. You are simply left on the street.

This is a reality for many thousands of people who are forcibly evicted from slums every year. And it is just one example of how the rights of people living in poverty are being abused.

New hope

Governments have an obligation under international law to ensure economic, social and cultural rights for their people. But millions are still forced to get by without proper housing or enough food. Many also lack clean water, sanitation, healthcare, work, education, social security... the list goes on. Most have little prospect of being listened to or getting justice. Until now.

Activists win support

Amnesty International activists in over 40 countries used petitions, global appeals, media coverage and lobbying to win international support for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. It allows people to complain to a UN body if a state violates its obligations to protect these rights. The Protocol was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008.

“An important platform to expose abuses”

So far Ecuador, Mongolia and Spain have agreed to be legally bound by (ratified) the Protocol. Just seven more states need to follow suit before it comes into force. By August 2011, although 33 other states have endorsed the new measures, they have not yet ratified the Protocol.

We are now pushing for all states to agree to the Protocol, and put justice for the world’s poorest people within reach. As the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, put it, it “will provide an important platform to expose abuses that are often linked to poverty, discrimination and neglect, and that victims frequently endure in silence and helplessness”.


To learn more about our campaign for international justice, visit:

For over 50 years we have been fighting for freedom of expression. The world has changed, but violence and imprisonment are still used to silence people who defend human rights and criticize the powerful. By calling on millions of activists and supporters worldwide, we can jam the fax machines of governments and send them a message they can’t ignore. Speak out against repression – deliver a message directly into the hands of those in power.
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