You are here:

Moral Philosophy/Amnesty International decision on Nelson Mandela


Amnesty Internationalís decision to exclude Nelson
Mandela from its list of Prisoners of Conscience in the wake of the Rivonia address ? do you think it had any significant repercussions since Amnesty has since reinstated Mandela as a POC again

I would say the repercussions on Nelson Mandela were none.
He was still one of the most well-known political prisoners, managing from his prison cell to draw the eyes of the world on South Africa. In a prisoner's daily life, it doesn't make any difference whether Amnesty International supports you or not. All they do is write letters. This may help to draw some attention to a political prisoner if he is a lesser-known figure, but in Mr Mandela's case these additional letters were irrelevant.

The repercussions on Amnesty International were actually greater.
With Mr Mandela remaining a very popular figure throughout his imprisonment, AI found itself increasingly on the wring side of history. That's probably why they corrected their stance and later even appointed him an Ambassador of Conscience in 2006.

The ideal of AI to not support any violent struggle is noble and helps it get the support of many people who would otherwise be reluctant to support political prisoners. But unfortunately, that limits AI to campaigns of writing letters and issuing press releases, all things which don't impress dictators and oppressive regimes very much. In my view, AI has therefore become rather toothless:

Andreas Moser

Moral Philosophy

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Andreas Moser


Moral philosophy, ethics, legal philosophy.


The rare combination of a lawyer and a philosopher. Studied and practised law in Germany and then went on to study for an MA in philosophy in the UK.


2000: law degree, University of Regensburg, Germany 2002-2009: practising as a lawyer in Germany 2013: MA Philosophy, Open University, UK

©2016 All rights reserved.