Human rights are rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. In response to widespread, horrific violations of human rights in the first half of the 20th century, the international community established international human rights laws that lay down the obligations of governments to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. APA's vision statement includes serving as an effective champion of the application of psychology to promote human rights.
What are human rights?
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has the mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on Dec. 10, 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide.
The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights keynote address at the International Congress of Psychology 2012: Exploring the nexus of psychology and human rights and how they serve humanity.
Human Rights: A Basic Overview
The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition is a network of scientific membership organizations that recognizes a role for science and scientists in efforts to realize human rights. Launched in January 2009, the aim of the Coalition is to facilitate communication and partnerships on human rights within and across the scientific community, and between the scientific and human rights communities.
APA Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls
The Task Force is reviewing the state of the literature of theory, research, and practice relevant to the trafficking of women and girls and will produce a report with extensive literature citations that summarizes its findings.
Working with Human Rights Abuse Victims
Psychologists obtain training on human rights law and evaluation of torture survivors
(Psychology International, June 2012)
Issues in Human Rights
Position on Ethics and Detainee Welfare
The issue of detainee welfare in national security contexts has been the subject of extensive consideration by the APA in recent years. A timeline of activities has been developed to clarify the APA’s position.
People with Disabilities
Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children
This report draws heavily from the APA Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities, other APA guidelines and the work of many notable psychologists, several of whom have served on the Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology.
APA Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls
The task force is reviewing the state of the literature of theory, research and practice relevant to the trafficking of women and girls and will produce a report with extensive literature citations that summarizes its findings.
From past to present: Slavery and human trafficking
A symposium focused on slavery past to present day human trafficking.
Child Trafficking From Prevention to Protection: Community Based Collaboration
Although human trafficking for sexual exploitation is not a new phenomenon, it has dramatically increased so that the number of individuals involved is now 10 times greater than those victimized by the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 19th century.
Building Collaborations to Work on Issues Related to Human Trafficking
Countries that are especially vulnerable to becoming targets of human trafficking and slavery, such as Ukraine, are often economically depressed as well as legally and politically unstable.
Schwarzenegger v. Plata and Coleman
Class action cases by mentally and physically ill California prisoners challenging imprisonment conditions due to overcrowding, including lack of adequate mental health services.
Wyatt v. Aderholt, 503 F.2d 1305
APA discussed the judicial obligation to safeguard the constitutional rights of involuntary inmates of mental institutions, including the right to adequate treatment.
What You Can Do
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Monitor on Psychology Articles
- Deciding who belongs
- With terrorism, labeling has implications
- Members say no to psychologist involvement in interrogations in unlawful detention settings
- Uncivil rights
APA Offices and Programs
- Human Rights Advocacy
APA web-based resources to help ensure that the next generation of psychologists has access to policies, programs and publications that will help inform them about the role of human rights in their careers.
- Public Interest Directorate
Applies psychology to the fundamental problems of human welfare and the promotion of equitable and just treatment of all segments of society through education, training, and public policy.
- Office of International Affairs
The Office of International Affairs serves as APA’s touch point for international information and initiatives within APA. It leads outreach with APA’s international members and affiliates, and coordinates APA’s participation in international venues.