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Continuing the International Mission: A Year With the Committee on International Relations in Psychology

The CIRP committee achieved all of their goals in a year which were to start a speaker’s bureau for the United Nations APA delegates to utilize for programming, advance awareness around the genocide in Darfur, and advance international awareness globally through our APA convention programming.

By Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD

by Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD, CIRP Chair

There are several actions of the CIRP committee that deserve mention for the year 2007.  At the start of the year, along with continuing our strategic plan, we set three major goals for ourselves.  We wanted to start a speaker’s bureau for the United Nations APA delegates to utilize for programming, we wanted to advance awareness around the genocide in Darfur, and we wanted to advance international awareness globally through our APA convention programming.  I am pleased to say that through the hard work of the committee, our staff persons at APA, and the support and collaboration of other APA governing bodies we have been able to achieve all three goals.

We sent out a call to all Divisions regarding our desire to start a speaker’s bureau for the United Nations.  We received numerous submissions of psychologists from varying domains and interest areas across APA.  These names and credentials have been compiled and we will continue to add to them and make them available to our UN representatives (please check the UN website in the new year for further information).

Secondly we have been able to raise consciousness about the genocide in Darfur, in three significant ways.  First we co-sponsored a program on Darfur with the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs at this year’s APA convention.  Expertise on this panel included representations from the UN team, grass roots initiatives on the ground in Darfur, and a representative from a Congressional office.  This activity led to the second action, which was having an article published in the Monitor about Darfur and the engagement of psychologists in addressing the trauma in that region of the Sudan.  Finally and likely of the greatest impact, we were able to co-sponsor with the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs a resolution against genocide that was recommended by the Board of Directors for placement on the February 2008 Council of Representatives agenda for discussion and approval.   We are very excited about these advances and hope that upon approval, APA members will use this document to educate and advocate for peace, safety, justice, and reconciliation.

Our third area of success is focused on the breadth and scope of our APA programming in general for the 2007 convention.  For the first time in APA history, together with the Office of International Affairs (OIA), we planned for and hosted the convention visits of 22 presidents of national and regional psychology associations who were invited to attend convention by 2007 APA President Sharon Brehm.  This landmark event was a success for APA and more than that, was an achievement for the relations of psychologists around the globe.  Our special guests were highlighted and honored at the Opening Ceremony and provided an engaging discussion of international psychology in a two hour symposium presented in a filled room.  In addition to this program and the Darfur program, our representatives to the United Nations held a powerful and informative symposium on the role of the UN and Non-governmental organizations in addressing violence around the world. 

As Chair of the Committee on International Relations in Psychology, it has been a pleasure working with such a committed team as we continue to advance our understanding of psychology from an international perspective. Ψ