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New secretary general sets out vision for Amnesty International

16 Aug 2018 News

Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International

Amnesty International’s newly-appointed secretary general has set out his human rights vision in a statement today.

Kumi Naidoo was appointed in December last year, but has only just taken up the role as the leader of the human rights organisation, which is London-based but international in scope. 

He has today made his first statement in which he sets out his vision for the human rights sector.

Naidoo says that human rights bodies will be more effective if they work more closely with bodies trying to address other issues, such as poverty and the environment.

“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,” he said. “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.

“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.”

Naidoo is a former South African anti-apartheid activist who worked for the African National Congress after it came to power. He has previously been executive director of Greenpeace International and chief executive of Civicus, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

Naidoo succeeds Salil Shetty, who served two terms as secretary general from 2010.

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