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Human Rights Now!

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Human Rights Now!
Tour by Amnesty International
Start date2 September 1988
End date15 October 1988
No. of shows20
Amnesty International benefit events chronology
A Conspiracy of Hope
Human Rights Now!
An Embrace of Hope
Bruce Springsteen tour chronology
Tunnel of Love Express Tour
Human Rights Now!
Bruce Springsteen 1992–1993 World Tour

Human Rights Now! was a worldwide tour of twenty benefit concerts on behalf of Amnesty International that took place over six weeks in 1988. Held not to raise funds but to increase awareness of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on its 40th anniversary and the work of Amnesty International, the shows featured Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, and Youssou N'Dour, plus guest artists from each of the countries where concerts were held.

Human rights activists and former prisoners from around the world, led by Sonny Venkatrathnam from South Africa, participated in the tour. At each location, the artists and Amnesty leaders held a press conference to discuss human rights, and concert-goers were provided with copies of the Universal Declaration in their language and opportunities to sign the Declaration themselves and join the worldwide human rights movement. The tour featured big concerts at big stadiums such as Camp Nou (90,000 people), Népstadion (80,000), JFK Stadium (78,000), River Plate Stadium (75,000), and Harare (75,000). Only Paris and Toronto got arena shows. The Paris concert was originally going to be held at a big racing track that could accommodate 72,000 people, but the promoters changed their minds and it was moved indoors. More than one million people attended concerts over a six-week period, volunteers distributed 1.2 million copies of the Declaration, and hundreds of thousands of concertgoers signed a petition urging governments to ratify international human rights treaties and defend advocates for human rights.[1]

The tour was made possible in part by a grant from the Reebok Foundation. The twenty concerts were the second stage of what subsequently became known collectively as the Human Rights Concerts - a series of music events and tours staged by the US Section of Amnesty International between 1986 and 1998.


Opening stages of the 19 September show at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium.
Human Rights Now! Tour booklet.

The tour was originally conceived by the Executive Director of Amnesty International's U.S. section, Jack Healey after a suggestion from former Executive Director David Hawk, with some limited input from producer Martin Lewis, who had first recruited rock musicians to perform for Amnesty years before for the Secret Policeman's Ball series of benefits.[2][3] Healey developed the concept with famed rock promoter Bill Graham, who had worked with Healey on Amnesty's shorter, United States-only tour in 1986, titled A Conspiracy of Hope, and who acted as tour director. Healey served as executive producer, leading the team of three producers: Mary Daly, Jessica Neuwirth, and James Radner, father of George Radner. The media strategies for the tour, based on concepts originated by Healey and Lewis,[4] were developed by Healey and Daly and executed by tour media director Magdeleno Rose-Avila and Charles Fulwood, Communications Director for Amnesty International USA.[4]


Lighters came out for songs such as Peter Gabriel's "Biko" that amplified the themes of the tour.
List of tour dates, showing date, city, country, venue, guest artists
City Country Venue Guest artists
2 September London England Wembley Stadium
4 September Paris France Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy Michel Jonasz
5 September
6 September Budapest Hungary Népstadion Hobo Blues Band
János Bródy
8 September Turin Italy Stadio Comunale Claudio Baglioni
10 September Barcelona Spain Camp Nou El Último de la Fila
North America
13 September San José Costa Rica Estadio Nacional Guadalupe Urbina
15 September Toronto Canada Maple Leaf Gardens k.d. lang
17 September Montreal Olympic Stadium k.d. lang
Michel Rivard
Daniel Lavoie
19 September Philadelphia United States John F. Kennedy Stadium Joan Baez
21 September Los Angeles Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Joan Baez
The Edge
23 September Oakland Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Joan Baez
Roy Orbison
27 September Tokyo Japan Tokyo Dome Kodō
30 September New Delhi India Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium L. Shankar
Zakir Hussain
3 October Athens Greece Olympic Stadium George Dalaras
7 October Harare Zimbabwe National Sports Stadium Oliver Mtukudzi
Cde Chinx
9 October Abidjan Ivory Coast Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny Ismaël Isaac
Johnny Clegg
South America
12 October São Paulo Brazil Parque Antártica Milton Nascimento
Pat Metheny
14 October Mendoza Argentina Estadio Malvinas Argentinas Los Prisioneros
15 October Buenos Aires Estadio River Plate León Gieco
Charly García

Box office score data[edit]

List of box office score data with date, city, venue, attendance, gross[5]
City Venue Attendance Gross
17 September Montreal, Canada Olympic Stadium 58,679 / 60,199 $1,807,956
19 September Philadelphia, United States John F. Kennedy Stadium 75,892 / 75,892 $2,621,220
21 September Los Angeles, United States Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 56,547 / 64,000 $1,973,790
23 September Oakland, United States Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 58,500 / 58,500 $1,462,500
TOTAL 248,618 / 257,591 (97%) $7,865,466


  1. ^ "Rockin' to Free the World?: Amnesty International's Benefit Concert Tours, 1986–88". academic.oup.com. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  2. ^ Gundersen, Edna, "Big show, big impact? Live Earth hopes so" USAToday.com, 4 July 2007
  3. ^ "Benchmark benefits through the years" USAToday.com, 4 July 2007
  4. ^ a b Henke, James, "Human Rights Now!: Official Book of the Amnesty International World Concert Tour", Bloomsbury Publishing, 1 December 1988 (ISBN 0747503184)
  5. ^ "Billboard Boxscore" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 100, no. 41. 8 October 1988. p. 34. ISSN 0006-2510.