January 2007

AI Secretary General Irene Khan’s blog from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos made interesting reading. Just as you would expect she quite rightly urged world leaders to live up to the promise of human rights. She pondered whether this year’s forum was “more cosmetic than substantive” and considered how NGOs like AI seemed to be being sidelined or at least reserved for worthy post-prandial speeches – a worrying observation at a time when the world faces enormous human rights challenges. But there was good news too: she noted how she was recognised in a juice bar by a leading politician and even managed to grab a cappuccino with the Pakistan PM without an apppointment and had a hard talk about human rights.

If, as she says, NGOs are being sidelined it looks as if AI still has some sway and that’s because over the years the organisation Ms Khan heads has built up an enviable reputation for morality and championing human rights. If this reputation is ruined – as may well be the case if AI decides to advocate abortion, Ms Khan may find it becoming even more difficult to grab a coffee with world leaders.

One of the latest AI campaigns is Human Rights for All – NO EXCEPTIONS….a sentiment I think all AI supporters would endorse. Even before AI takes a decision about whether or not to promote abortion as a human right in Mexico in August, many find these campaigns a bitter irony. If it is adopted then there is surely an argument that AI is in fact prepared to make exceptions and if AI can do it, how can it object if other organisations, individuals or countries decide to make their own exceptions as to whom should have human rights? Its credibility will have gone and Ms Khan may find herself sitting all alone in the coffee shop of next year’s forum.


Sorry folks, this was first posted on 22 November 2006 (but was deleted by mistake with a few other posts)

Seventy-three US lawmakers have sent a letter to Amnesty International USA calling on the organization to reject any moves to advocate abortion.

Publishing the letter, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro Life Caucus, said:

“The killing of an unborn child by abortion can never be construed to be a human right. Therefore, taking a position that supports violence against children is antithetical to everything Amnesty International stands for. It is not possible for Amnesty to justify any position that condones abortion based on international human rights law while at the same time remain true to their principles.

Read the full text of the letter below.


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