AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, THE BEST KNOWN AND BY FAR THE largest human rights organization in the world—in membership, in global income, and in the number of its national sections—was established in London in 1961. Its creation was a major milestone in the emergence of an enduring human rights movement. From the start it was intended to be a global organization. That is, those who would participate in its efforts would come from all over the world, and those on whose behalf it campaigned would be persons everywhere who suffered abuses of human rights.
Amnesty was established at a time when Cold War tensions were at a high point. The previous October, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly had interrupted British prime minister Harold Macmillan by pounding his fists on the table, jumping to his feet, and shouting, “You sent your planes over our territory, you are guilty of aggression.” At a subsequent session of the General Assembly, when the delegate from the Philippines said something the Soviet leader did not like, he took off his shoe, waved it at the delegate, and banged it on the table. In the United States, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president in January 1961. A few days later, in his State of the Union address, Kennedy warned, “We must never be lulled into believing that either power [the Soviet Union or China, which were undergoing estrangement from each other at that moment] has yielded its ambition for world domina-