The aim of the Benenson Society is to provide students with the opportunity to be involved in the promotion of human rights through the raising of awareness of violations of these rights and by lobbying governments on behalf of prisoners of conscience, for the end of torture and the death penalty, and asserting the rights of all to basic freedoms. The Society is open to all those of whatever religious faith or belief, or none, who accept the fundamental rights of all human beings.
- All work of the Society will be based upon the foundation principle of the inherent and inviolable dignity of the human person. The Society believes that every human being has certain rights that cannot be, and must not be, compromised or separated from the individual.
- The Society will seek to promote human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in accord with other international human rights’ standards.
- Members will be encouraged to deepen their awareness of the struggle for human rights and to promote a wider awareness of human rights in their own communities.
- The Society will encourage its members to take a stand and make a difference, not only through gaining a greater awareness, but through action such as writing letters, petitions, participating in campaigns with other organisations and other forms of appropriate peaceful protest.
- The emphasis will be on inclusion and on helping individuals who experience the violation of their human rights. The Society does not seek to be identified by labels of ‘left’ or ‘right’, and would seek to promote human rights wherever, and without fear or prejudice.
- The Society will oppose any policies of women being forced to have abortions (as sometimes practised in China) and oppose the use of rape as a weapon of war (as perpetrated in Darfur). The Society will maintain a policy of neutrality on the appropriate public policy in addressing abortion, leaving it to the conscience and judgment of its members as how best to reduce abortion rates.
The Society will be called the Benenson Society, after Peter Benenson, the Catholic lawyer who founded Amnesty, and will hopefully embody something of the spirituality, as well as idealism, that led to the formation of Amnesty.
The Benenson Society will have as its symbol, a stylised white rose. This symbol draws inspiration from the White Rose Society, a group of Catholic and Protestant students and teachers at Munich University, who opposed Nazism with letters and pamphlets, with six paying the ultimate price of being guillotined for their stand for human rights. A membership lapel pin will soon be made available. It will use the white rose symbol (presently being designed).