Last week, Backword Dave sneered at Eve Garrard's cool, analytical dismantling of Amnesty's recent pronouncements about the Iraq “war”:
“I gather Ms Garrard is not a regular blogger, so she may be excused understanding of the ground rules, but if you want to say that something is 'no part of Amnesty's remit,' a link is expected.”
Perhaps Garrard doesn't provide a link because it only takes five minutes of googling to find plenty of support for her statement:
“Amnesty International has a very specific and limited mandate. Our active mandate (on which we do research and mobilize our international membership to act) is to work for the release of prisoners of conscience (those imprisoned because of their race, gender, religion, political views, and other non-violent expression), for fair and prompt trials for all political prisoners, and against the use of torture and execution in all cases. We also work in a more general sense to promote international human rights instruments, and the values enshrined in them. This promotional work is much more limited, and we do not conduct research or actively campaign on it.
In keeping with this mandate, Amnesty International does not and never has taken a position on war or economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool. This is not to minimize the importance of the devastating consequences that can arise, but simply a matter of us sticking to what we do. There are many human rights beyond those on which Amnesty actively campaigns.”
That was courtesy of those enthusiastically pro-war friends of mine over at CASI, quoting Beth Ann Toupin, Amnesty's US Iraq Country Specialist, in 2000.
Words to this effect used to be written in Amnesty's statutes, prominently displayed on their Webpages. I know this because after their lying Iraq poster came out I looked them up myself. They used to say that their policy was “never to comment on whether the use of military force is justified or appropriate,” on a separate page, but now you have to search around for it. Try here and here and here.
This is from Amnesty's Secretary-General, Pierre Sane quoted in 2000:
“Amnesty International has long refused to take a position on whether or not armed forces should be deployed in human rights crises.”
Or how about Amnesty International USA's Executive Director, William Schulz, starting to get a bit fuzzier about his own organization's own rules in 2003:
“Amnesty International doesn't take a position on military intervention per se“
Schulz's fuzziness might offer some comfort for the buried remains of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans, however:
“In the long run it may not be wise of Amnesty International to have a policy that it takes no position on military intervention. Certainly I have argued within Amnesty that in the face of genocide, such as in Rwanda, the organization is utterly remiss not to take a position in favor of military intervention.”
So here, just for the record, is Eve Garrard again, making her unsupported assertion:
“It's one thing to protest against abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere; it's a different matter, and no part of Amnesty's remit, to encourage any particular position on the Iraq war.”
I am happy to concede that Amnesty policy might have changed recently, but, as hard as I tried, I couldn't find any record of such a change. If anyone out there can, please let me know; it'll be interesting to find out why Amnesty has abruptly flipped.
Now, to borrow your phrasing, Dave: you are a regular (and often entertaining) 'Blogger so you may not be excused for failing to use Google before hurriedly scribbling your words.
I stand corrected, and will duly note this on my blog.
Graciously done, sir.
Sometimes the blogosphere seems almost civilised.
He had me bang to rights. What else could I do?
My thanks to Pootergeek for sorting out those references so conclusively, and to Backword Dave for accepting correction so handsomely!
Thank you, everyone.
It's like some kind of genteel love-in around here. Blog debates aren't supposed to be like this; people will think I'm making the comments up.