PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 December, 1999, 12:00am

From a small group of volunteers working in a tiny office in London, Amnesty International has grown to become the world's largest voluntary organisation dealing with human rights. Today, it has more than one million members and supporters in more than 100 countries.

Amnesty (BBC World, 9.10pm) examines how its campaigning activities work, following researchers on fact-finding trips to Cambodia and Yemen, and watching lobbyists in Rome fight for an internationally recognised court with enough teeth to bring criminal prosecutions against violators of human rights.

In the United States, Amnesty steps up its activities to increase awareness about American police brutality, the plight of asylum seekers and the use of the death penalty against juveniles. But at the time it finds the American media more interested in the antics of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

The role of Amnesty is relevant in Hong Kong, where the organisation has its regional headquarters. Less relevant are the warnings underlying National Geographic: Avalanche (World, 10pm).

This film, which is also being aired on National Geographic Channel next Wednesday, shows how avalanches occur and educates those of us who like to play on snowmobiles, snowboards or skis, of the dangers.

Avalanche also contains some amazing survival stories to rival those we have been seeing in Survival Science. One gold miner was buried alive in the mountains of Colorado. He spent a staggering 22 hours digging himself out, only to be buried again by a second monster snow slide.

If Earth's history was compressed into one day, human beings would appear just two seconds before midnight. Two Seconds To Midnight (BBC World, 8.10pm) tells the story of humans from the planet's perspective, starting the visual journey 4.6 billion years ago. With the help of computer graphics, dinosaurs hatch and primitive fish walk on land.

Two Seconds To Midnight traces the changing relationships between humans and the planet, from the hunter gatherers to the first farmers, from the Conquistadors of the Middle Ages to the engineers of the Industrial Age, and into the future.