1 Amnesty International Against the Death PenaltyThe death penalty is enforced in more than 100 countries around the globe. Statistically, there have been 1,708 known executions in 35 of these 100 countries. I=m sure that the true figures are certainly higher.
The most common methods of this controversial act include shooting, electrocution, lethal injection, hanging, stoning, and decapitation. Around the world, there are presently almost 3,000 people on death row (What is Amnesty International, 1997, Oct. 29, p. 13). Rushing to stand on behalf of these prisoners is the powerful social activist group Amnesty International. Amnesty International Aopposes the death penalty in all cases on the grounds that it is a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,@ as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Amnesty International-against the death penalty, 1997, Oct. 29, p.
1). This paper explores the communication strategies that Amnesty International uses to support their stand against the death penalty and explains why they have earned the title of being one of the most successful activists groups.The History of Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International was launched in London on May 28, 1961. Its founder, Peter Benenson, was a defense lawyer for prisoners and was aspiring to create an organization for the advancement of human rights. His first step was to write a newspaper appeal, titled AThe Forgotten emailprotected This plea brought him in more than 1,000 offers of support for the idea of a campaign to protect human rights (AAmnesty International,@ 1991, p.
347). Withing 12 months of the new organization, they had handled over 210 cases and spread throughout seven countries. By the early 1980s, Amnesty International consisted of an International secretariat of 150 persons, national sections in more than 40 countries, and about 200,000 individual members. In 1977, their achievements landed them a recipient award of the Nobel Prize for Peace (AAmnesty International of the U.S.
A.,@ 1996, p. 2162).
Today, Amnesty International has more then 1,000,000 members, subscribers, and regular donors in more than 100 countries and territories throughout the world. Without including the thousands of schools, universities, and professional groups that do not register internationally, Amnesty International holds 4,287 local groups within the International Secretariat. The heart of the organization lies in London, with over 300 permanent staff members and 95 volunteers from around the world (AAmnesty International=s facts and figures,@ 1997, Nov. 15, p.
1). For every organization to work there must be some type of administration, and indeed, Amnesty International has one. Today, the Secretary General in charge of Amnesty International is Pierre Sane.
In whole, it is governed by a nine-member International Executive Committee. Eight of the nine members are volunteers, elected every two years by an International Council, and one elected member of the International Secretariat (AFacts and figures about Amnesty International,@ 1997, Nov. 1, p.
1).Finally, the last bit of information about Amnesty International is its main focuses. Standing by its detailed international statute, Amnesty International=s main core of its campaigning is to:to seek the release of prisoners of conscience . . .
to work for fair and prompt trials for political prisoners; to campaign to abolish the death penalty, torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of prisoners; and to end extrajudicial executions and emailprotected (AFacts and figures about Amnesty International,@Like their Bible, these are the words of Amnesty International=s existence.With a group as notable as Amnesty International, one must wonder the secret to their success. Actually, it all lies within their cunning communication strategies. For starters, they have very effective verbal tactics such as speeches, conferences, teach-ins, concerts, and even protest marches. During speeches, members seek out international organizations and government officials to emphasize the need to abolish the death penalty or even show mercy on a prisoner (AStatue of Amnesty International,@ 1997, Nov.1, p.2).
As mentioned above, they even hold concerts for their present and prospective members as a way to get others involved and distribute their message to others. They also hold conferences with members of the government and other local organizations to offer suggestions and try to find common ground between their opposing viewpoints. Protest marches are also a common strategy of Amnesty International.
As a way of petitioning an execution, they hold marches and give speeches outside government buildings, hoping for their plea to be heard. If an execution does go on, they hold vigils outside of the prison in which they sing and chant (Corn, 1997, Sept.1, p.31). These are just a few of the numerous ways that Amnesty International is heard around the world.
Nonverbal Communication StrategiesAlong with successful verbal strategies, Amnesty International also has a few nonverbal strategies Aup their emailprotected Nonverbally, Amnesty International holds petitions, letter writing campaigns, vigils, billboard campaigns, write-a-thons, and even publishes their own magazine. They send petitions to government officials in behalf of death row inmates to plea for their right to live. They also sponsor numerous letter writing campaigns, such as the Urgent Action Network and the Freedom Writers Network, to make appeals to the government (AAmnesty International is its volunteers,@ 1997, Nov. 3, p.1). Each year Amnesty International produces regular, in-depth reports on human rights violations and the death penalty around the world.
Some sections even publish a bimonthly magazine, AAmnesty,@ which contains current events and information on how to get involved in different campaigns (AAmnesty in action,@ 1997, Nov.20, p.1). Also mentioned under the verbal strategies, Amnesty International holds vigils the night of executions to offer their prayers to the prisoner and to stand their ground against the death penalty (AVa. Executes killer despite appeal efforts,@ 1997, Jul 24, p.5).Among all nonverbal strategies, the most effective would have to be their symbol.
Chosen in the beginning, Amnesty International=s emblem is a burning candle with barbed wire around it. Its inspiration was an ancient proverb, ABetter to light one candle than to curse the emailprotected Each year, a candle is lit in a London church on Human Rights Day as a way of celebrating their great organization (Power, 1991, p.15). The reason that this symbol says so much is because Amnesty International is modeled after it. They are the emailprotected for many people, and they represent the people that are trapped behind the Abarbed emailprotected Since the candle is inside the wire, I think that it represents Amnesty International being on the same side of the prisoners.Roaring vigorously into their 37th year, Amnesty International is definitely successful. Because of their effective communication strategies, Amnesty International is heard all around the world.
Since 1961, Amnesty International has adopted or investigated more than 43,500 cases, involving one individual or many. Of the cases, 40,753 are now closed (AAmnesty International Facts and Figures,@ 1997, Nov.15, p.2). There are no signs of Amnesty International slowing down, they are just charging toward the future and diving into more cases.In my opinion, Amnesty International is one of the most effective and dedicated organizations.
In the past 36 years, they have been one of lead fights for human rights. It is true that Amnesty International has not succeeded on every case that it has handled, in fact it probably hasn=t succeeded on half of them, but it has succeeded on communicating its message. Amnesty International has made the government aware that they have a fight, the prisoners aware that they have someone on their side, and the public aware that they should take action for human rights.Bibliography: