But on the more optimistic side, more than a thousand independent groups and organizations are now campaigning for human rights as part of their programs. True, such human-rights groups sometimes seem to be fighting against insuperable odds. In Moscow for example, the brave band that tried to monitor Soviet violations of the human rights provisions of the Helsinki accords was destroyed by arrest, exile and expulsion. Yet, even the Kremlin, looking to promote a more modern image under leader Mikhail Gorbachev, is not totally immune to pressure on human rights issues. At the Reykjavik summit last weekend, the Soviet Union agreed for the first time to state publicly its willingness to discuss such issues, whereas it previously had refused to concede that it had a "human-rights" problem.
Such a declaration was not made because the Iceland summit faltered, but it is to be hoped that the Soviet concession will be resurrected at some point. An admission of a problem on paper does not resolve the question of Jewish and other would-be Soviet emigrants, nor the tragedy of 60 particularly desperate emigration cases involving family separation or urgent medical needs. But it does provide some basis to hope for at least marginal progress on human-rights issues. And, as the Amnesty report shows, changing political circumstances plus international pressure have produced improved human-rights situations in countries like Turkey, Sudan, Nigeria, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina.
Amnesty International makes a good case not only for American government attention to human-rights questions, but also for individual participation in international human-rights campaigns.