Monograph

Christie Miedema (2019)

Not a Movement of Dissidents. Amnesty International Beyond the Iron Curtain

Publishing house Wallstein
Place of publication Göttingen
Page references 279
Series Schriftenreihe Menschenrechte im 20. Jahrhundert
Language English

ISBN: 978-3-8353-3412-0

The human rights activism of Amnesty International originated in the midst of the Cold War
and was initiated with the explicit intention to transcend the ideological conflict. For this purpose, the organization developed a policy of impartiality based on the balancing of criticism between the different political blocs and distance between activists and the prisoners they rallied for. The politicized and fluctuating ideological landscape in which Amnesty operated and the emergence of human rights activism in Eastern Europe challenged this policy, especially in the 1970s. Eastern European human rights activists provided much needed information on a crucial region in Amnesty's politics of balance. But the closer the cooperation became, the more Amnesty's rules came under pressure; in particular its principle of distance. When activists first in the Soviet Union and later in Poland tried to establish Amnesty structures, the gap between the organization's nominally universal rules and its practice in Eastern Europe became visible.