A single idea governs the Oxford Amnesty Lectures. Speakers of international reputation are invited to lecture in Oxford on a subject related to human rights. The public is charged to hear them. In this way funds are raised for Amnesty International, and the profile of human rights is raised in the academic and wider communities.
The organisation of the lectures is the work of a group of Amnesty supporters. They act with the approval of Amnesty International, but are independent of it. Neither the themes of the annual series nor the views expressed by the speakers should be confused with the views of Amnesty itself. For each annual series a general theme is proposed, bringing a particular discipline or perspective to bear on human rights. The speakers are invited to submit an unpublished lecture, which is delivered in Oxford; the lectures are then published as a book.
Amnesty International is a worldwide human rights movement that is independent of any government, political faction, ideology, economic interest, or religious creed. The Amnesty International mandate is as follows: to seek the release of prisoners of conscience--people imprisoned solely for their beliefs, colour, ethnic origin, language, or religion, provided that they have neither used nor advocated the use of violence; to oppose the death penalty, torture, or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of all prisoners; to end extrajudicial executions or "disappearances"; and to oppose abuses by opposition groups- hostage taking, the torture and killings of prisoners, and other arbitrary killings.
The members of the Committee of the Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1997 were Madeleine Forey, John Gardner, Chris Miller, Fabienne Pagnier, Deana Rankin, Stephen Shute, and Wes Williams.