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Posted July 31, 2002

Brooks Joins Amnesty International USA Board of Directors

Rosa Ehrenreich Brooks
Brooks said the treatment of civilians during armed conflict is an issue of increasing concern to Amnesty International.
Associate Professor of Law Rosa Ehrenreich Brooks has joined the 18-member Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA. Amnesty International is a worldwide human rights organization with more than one million members, and each national section elects its own Board. Brooks, an authority on international human rights law, was elected by the U.S. membership from a slate of 13 candidates for six open board posts. AIUSA directors are elected to three-year terms, and Brooks was also named to the Board's Executive Committee and to the position of Board liaison to Amnestyís women's rights and children's rights steering committees.

The organization recently decided to expand its mission, Brooks said, and her new Board oversight responsibilities include helping to keep AI effectively focused. AI formerly worked mainly on prisoners of conscience, judicial fairness, torture, political killings and the death penalty. Now its mission has expanded to include grave abuses of all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes social and economic rights as well as civil and political rights. "The newly expanded new Amnesty mission creates many exciting new opportunities for coalition-building and expansion of the membership, but it also creates a risk that AI's work may become ill-defined or that the organization could become overextended," Brooks said.

Brooks says that one of the most critical human rights issues in the world today concerns the treatment of civilians during armed conflicts, and this is an area in which Amnesty International is increasingly active. In the United States, she said the government's reaction to 9/11 is also raising new and troubling civil liberties issues alongside traditional Amnesty concerns over the treatment of refugees and immigrants, prisoners, the right to fair trials, and the death penalty.

Amnesty's strategy for bringing attention to human rights causes includes forming political constituencies willing to pressure elected officials, so increasing worldwide membership is another organizational goal. Amnesty International was formed in London in 1961, and its international headquarters is still in London, but roughly one-third of Amnesty members worldwide are Americans. "It's exciting to work with one of the world's foremost human rights advocacy groups and be involved with human rights issues in a practical way as well as in a scholarly way," Brooks said.
• Reported by M. Marshall

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