A half-century of posters from Amnesty International

A half-century of posters from Amnesty International

18th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

In the fifty years' existence of human rights organization Amnesty International there have been many hundreds of posters. A selection can be seen in The Hague from Thursday 10 March.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International has 2.8 million members and donors in 150 countries. In some countries, the organisation has only a handful of members. It cannot operate openly everywhere because many governments view its activities as illegal.

The Dutch branch, based in Amsterdam, was founded in 1968 and has about 280,000 members, or 10 percent of the worldwide total

On 28 May 2011 Amnesty International will celebrate its 50th birthday.

In the Poster Gallery in The Hague, around sixty posters from the rich history of this worldwide organisation will be on display. "In the Netherlands alone over 350 have been produced over the years, and in the whole world there are even two thousand," said an employee of Amnesty.

These posters are all stored at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

Universal visual language

The same poster is often used in different countries: What the posters have in common is that they all use universally understood visual imagery.

Former Amnesty International Chairman Roel Fernhout explains the intended effect: "Posters can lead people to act. If they move people to write a letter to a dictator, or to attend an event, you can see that a poster has worked."

Often Amnesty International commissions someone to create a poster. But artists and designers also come with their own ideas, inspired by an issue that demands attention from the organization.

Square of Heavenly Peace

An example is the poster by Dutch graphic designer Jan Bons from January 1989, showing a single Chinese student demonstrator in front of a tank in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Mr Bons personally brought along his drawing to Amnesty for use as a poster.
The exhibition of Amnesty posters can be seen until 1 May at The Poster Gallery in The Hague.

Radio Netherlands
Peter Hooghiemstra


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