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What are the main differences between the ACLU and Amnesty International?

It appears that they both protect civil and human rights but are there any differences or are they mirror images of each other? What are the differences between civil and human rights? I thought they were basically the same. Thanks!

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Thoughtful question.

    "Human rights" are those widely (but not universally) accepted as inherent for all people regardless of nationality, race, social status, physical condition or any other distinguishing characteristic. This is the most egalitarian of all standards of asserting rights that should not be violated or abridged by anyone.

    You will see some descriptions of such rights in the U.S. Declaration of Independence (but NOT the U.S. Constitution), the French Assembly's "Declaration" (the "tennis court" declaration of rights from the early Revolution), and the U.N. Charter's Declaration of Universal Human Rights. While similar, these are not identical, and today concepts of universal rights have expanded. During World War II, for example, Franklin Delano Roosevelt articulated the "Four Freedoms" as a concept of human rights - freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, freedom from want. Those are not positions unifromly pursued by human rights activists today - they are all controversial.

    Yet these are principles that are embodied in much of the world of Amnesty International and many other human rights groups. But AI tends to focus principally on the use of force and imprisonment to stile dissent, oppress minorities, and regulate societies. Other groups pursue sometimes broader goals.

    In contrast, "Civil Rights" are rights specifically established by law, and not always universally granted to people who are not citizens of a country. In the United States, supposedly all PERSONS regardless of citizenship are protected by the laws established in and under the U.S. Constitution. but now the Bush Administration, anit-immigrant agitators, and others wish to limit legal protections to just U.S. citizens - or, in the case of a few extremists, only to native-born U.S. citizens. This is an example of how "Civil Rights" differs from "human rights."

    The ACLU seeks to protect the uniform and even extension of civil rights to people regardless of their political persuasion or other features. Purely on behalf of the protection of the laws and thier stability, the ACLU has protected members of the KKK as well as people of color; has protected people from the John Birch Society as well as the American Communist Party; has stood up on behalf of government action as well as in opposition to it.

    This could go on and on, but by now I hope you have the basic idea.

  • 1 decade ago

    As I understand it.... ACLU 1> functions only in US and 2> litigates, their field of operations is the courts.

    AA is 1> international and 2> fights for those incarcerated whos human (civil..ok) rights are/have been neglected.

  • ACLU is national and typically lobbies Congress and initiates suits based on our constitutional rights. Amnesty International, also centered around rights, is international.

  • 1 decade ago

    ACLU is supposed to be US only, but lately it seems it wants to be world wide. Because that's what the world needs, the American Civil Liberties Union telling them what they can and can't do or say....

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