Our world is facing complex problems that can only be tackled if we break away from old ideas that human rights are about some forms of injustice that people face, but not others. The patterns of oppression that we’re living through are interconnected.
You cannot talk about the climate change crisis without recognising that it is also an inequality and race issue; you can’t address sexual discrimination without recognising that it is bound up in the economic exclusion of women; and you can’t ignore the fact that people’s civil and political rights are often suppressed exactly when they are trying to demand basic economic justice.
Amnesty International has repeatedly warned that we are living through some of the most divisive times in modern history, with prominent leaders offering a nightmarish vision of society blinded by hatred and fear. Only if we come together under the common values that unite us, like human rights, can we overcome this adversity.
In my first message as Secretary General, I want to make clear that Amnesty International is now opening its arms wider than ever before to build a genuinely global community that stretches into all four corners of the world, especially in the global south.
I want us to build a human rights movement that is more inclusive. We need to redefine what it means to be a human rights champion in 2018. An activist can come from all walks of life – a trade union, school, faith group, government or indeed business.
I want young people to know especially that we are open to you and need you to challenge us to do better by you. It is my abiding belief that young people are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders we need here and now. The Ahed Tamimis, the Elin Erssons, the Sibongile Ndashes, and every single person that has not shied away from civil disobedience or being called naïve or idealistic are the bold role models we need today.
Amnesty International was built on the idea that people, regardless of where they are or who they are, take the injustice that other people face personally. And it has proved time and time again that when strangers come together to fight for people that they have never met across the other side of the world, change is
Now, more than ever, we need people to come together and stand up to oppressors. I invite people who care about the present and future, for people who care about their children and grandchildren, for people who take injustice personally, to join us. Amnesty International needs your voice, your participation and your presence in our movement to make human rights a reality.
I want to thank Salil Shetty (my predecessor) for the contributions he has made to Amnesty International over the past eight years, and for his work on strengthening our presence throughout the world. I hope to build and expand on his legacy to ensure that we become a united global movement.
• Kumi Naidoo is the first ever African secretary general for Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organisation. He is a life-long social justice campaigner hailing from South Africa. Born in Durban in 1965, Kumi’s first taste of activism came at age 15 when he organised and took part in an anti-apartheid protest that saw him expelled from his school.
2018-08-17 10:12:08 11 months ago