Martin Ennals

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Martin Ennals
Born (1927-07-27)27 July 1927
Walsall, Staffordshire, England
Died 5 October 1991(1991-10-05) (aged 64)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nationality British
Organization Amnesty International
Title Secretary General
Predecessor Eric Baker
Successor Thomas Hammarberg
Awards Gandhi Peace Award

Martin Ennals (27 July 1927 – 5 October 1991) was a British human rights activist. Ennals served as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International from 1968 to 1980. He went on to help found the British human rights organisation ARTICLE 19, followed by International Alert in 1985.

During Ennals's tenure as Secretary General, Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Erasmus Prize, and the UN Human Rights Award.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in 1927 in Walsall, Staffordshire to Arthur Ford Ennals and his wife Jessie Edith Taylor. Ennals was educated at Queen Mary's Grammar School and the London School of Economics, where he received a degree in international relations. Ennals worked for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) from 1951 to 1959. In 1959, Ennals became a founding member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and also become Secretary General of the National Council for Civil Liberties, a position that he held until 1966, when he became Information and Publications Officer of the Commission for Racial Equality.[2]

Ennals's elder brother, David Ennals was a British politician who served as Secretary of State for Social Services.


The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, created in 1993, is granted annually to someone who has demonstrated an exceptional record of combating human rights violations by courageous means and is in need of protection. The award gives international "protective publicity" to human rights defenders around the world, mainly in their country of origin (a unique characteristic of this award, and very important from a protection point of view), through mass media (television, radio and internet). The winner is selected in Geneva, the world center for human rights, by a jury made up of 10 leading international human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline, International Commission of Jurists, HURIDOCS, etc.[3]

The Martin Ennals Award is considered the award of the whole human rights movement. It is known as "the Nobel prize for human rights" (Le Monde), "the world prize of human rights" (El Pais"), etc. The Annual Ceremony organised with the City of Geneva is an event with world Internet and TV coverage. The most recent ceremony took place at the Victoria Hall in Geneva on 13 October 2011.[3]

Non-profit organization positions}
Preceded by
Eric Baker
Secretary-General of Amnesty International
Succeeded by
Thomas Hammarberg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Martin Ennals: A Giant Human Rights Defender". Martin Ennals Award. 
  2. ^ David P. Forsyth, "Encyclopedia of Human Rights", Oxford University Press
  3. ^ a b "Welcome to Martin Ennals Awards - MEA". 2014-05-16. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 

External links[edit]