UN report

The Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists Presented at the United Nations DPI/NGO Conference in Paris

The theme of the annual DPI/NGO Conference was a commemoration the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

By Janel Gauthier

Psychologists are citizens of the world. Adherence to ethical principles in our work contributes to a stable society that enhances the quality of life – and respect for human rights – for all human beings. This is the spirit with which the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists was developed. In September, I had the honor and privilege to introduce the Universal Declaration to the United Nations (UN) Non Governmental Organization (NGO) community at the 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference on “Reaffirming Human Rights” held at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris.

The theme of the annual DPI/NGO Conference was a commemoration the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The conference was held in Paris, appropriate because the human rights declaration was adopted in that city in 1948. One could not have imagined a better time to introduce the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists and to highlight the interconnection between human rights and ethical principles. I presented the Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists as chair of the international working group that developed it, and on behalf of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP).

Universal Declaration of Ethics Principles for Psychologists:
History and Contents
The Universal Declaration of Ethics Principles for Psychologists was adopted by IUPsyS and IAAP at the International Congress of Psychology in Berlin in July 2008. This achievement came after a six-year development process involving careful research and broad international consultation, conducted under the auspices of both international organizations.

The Universal Declaration of Ethics Principles for Psychologists describes those ethical principles that are based on shared human values. It reaffirms the commitment of the psychology community to help build a better world where peace, freedom, responsibility, justice, humanity, and morality will prevail. Promoting the new universal declaration promises to be a contribution to the creation of a global society based on respect and caring for individuals and peoples. Of course, the development and adoption of a declaration like this one is like planting seeds -- it will require continued nurturing to reach its full potential. 

The presentation of the recent Universal Declaration of Ethics Principles for Psychologists at the DPI/NGO Conference of the United Nations took place in a midday workshop focusing on models for human-rights-based training at the grassroots level in mental health education for providers of mental health services around the world. In this context, the Universal Declaration of Ethics Principles for Psychologists was presented as a tool for ethics training at the grassroots level in mental health worldwide. Used in this way the Universal Declaration of Ethics Principles for Psychologists emphasizes an ethics education that promotes respect, competency, fairness and appropriateness in the provision of mental health services. 

The midday workshop was sponsored by a number of organizations, including the NGO Committee on Mental Health, the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and other partners, including the American Psychological Association, the World Federation for Mental Health and IAAP. It was chaired by Janice Wood Wetzel, Ph.D., Chair of the NGO Committee on Mental Health (New York) and Main UN representative and Human Rights Chair, USA, IASSW.  Other panelists included René Stockman, Ph.D., President of Caraes Brothers of Charity (Rome and Belgium); Tara Pir, CEO and Executive Director of Multicultural Counseling and Educational Services (Los Angeles); and youth representative Judith Heistein who filled in for the Executive Director of Global Youth Connect. Judy Kuriansky, Ph.D., IAAP’s Main UN Representative (New York) provided the closing remarks. 

The Universal Declaration of Ethics Principles for Psychologists can be accessed at http://www.iupsys.org/ethics. Ψ