The Worldwide Movement
THOUGH AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH are the largest, best known, and most influential human rights groups operating worldwide, literally thousands of other organizations are also active in the field. Many of them make distinctive contributions by focusing on abuses of rights in a particular country or locality; by addressing violations of rights suffered by discrete segments of the population such as gays and lesbians, indigenous peoples, women, members of racial, religious or ethnic minorities, or persons suffering from mental or physical disabilities; by dealing with a particular form of abuse, such as torture or the denial of freedom of expression; by using a particular method to promote human rights, such as litigation or the rehabilitation of torture victims; or by enlisting members of a certain profession, such as lawyers, physicians or journalists, in the struggle for human rights.1
As noted in chapter 1, the American-based human rights movement came into its own in the late 1970s as a result of U.S. dominance of the Cold War struggle against the Soviet empire, and especially U.S support for many anticommunist tyrannies that regularly abused rights. A subsidiary factor was the relatively greater availability of private philanthropy in the United States than elsewhere to support organizations at home and abroad that were promoting human rights. Small donations from Amnesty International’s global membership, the largest part of it in Europe, continued to make that organization dominant financially and in other ways.