Chapter XIV. International Affairs


Psychologists who are political refugees

On the recommendation of the Committee on International Relations in Psychology and the Board of Directors, Council adopted the following statement, noting that it applies to all psychologists who are political refugees in this country regardless of country of emigration or agreement or disagreement with the political issues involved:

Consistent with humanitarian principles and pursuant to its long standing philosophy of sympathetic understanding for colleagues forced to leave their countries and coming to the United States; and wishing to assist such colleagues in reestablishing their careers; be it resolved that the American Psychological Association provide such technical and administrative facilities as may be particularly appropriate in given individual circumstances.


Zionism as a form of racism

The Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association shares the widely expressed distress with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution which holds that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination. This political distortion of the meaning of racism is unacceptable to scientific researchers and professional practitioners in psychology. Wishing to continue to support the principles on which the United Nations was founded, and concerned about the divisive effects of the process of politicalization, the American Psychological Association joins with other professional, scholarly, and scientific bodies calling on the United Nations to reassert its ideals, return to its original goals and halt the destructive politicalization of its specialized agencies. In addition, as an indication of its vigilance and concern, the Council urges the Board of Directors through its Committee on International Relations in Psychology to continue monitoring the evolving United Nations scene and to present periodically to the Council a status report with recommendations as appropriate.

Support for the IUPsyS resolution concerning the use of psychiatric diagnosis in the suppression of political dissent

Council voted to accept the resolution of the International Union of Psychological Science of July 1976, concerning the use of psychiatric diagnosis in the suppression of political dissent, as meeting the spirit of the Council's resolution of 1973 and 1974, and to discharge the obligations placed upon the APA Representatives to IUPsyS in this matter.


Support for the rights of psychologists in other countries

Cognizant of its traditional responsibility, the American Psychological Association reaffirms its support for the right of psychologists to exercise their scientific and professional skills, be accorded social recognition and have the opportunity to communicate with colleagues in other lands. Within the context of this policy, APA’s international actions should be conducted in consultation and cooperation with local, regional, and international psychological associations to the extent that circumstances permit. Whenever possible, informal explorations should precede any official consultations and negotiations.

When official APA action is deemed advisable, the following principles should be considered:

  1. In developing plans for eventual action, APA’s purpose should be formulated with specific objectives; proposed means of implementation; consideration of potential results, both positive and negative; and methods for evaluating the eventual impact.

  2. When an official visit by APA to support psychologists in another country is contemplated, invitations for such a visit should be sought from nationally representatives associations of psychologists reflecting both scientific and professional interests in the country concerned.

  3. When an appropriate invitation is received and an official visit deemed desirable, APA should make every effort to try to develop a team of visitors reflecting regional and/or international psychological representation with at least one team member fluent in the language of the country to be visited.


Free exchange of ideas

Believing that the First Amendment requires the freest possible exchange of ideas, the APA opposes any restrictions on: 1) the import of ideas and information into the United States; 2) visits by any person to the U.S. because of that person’s beliefs or lawful political activity or association; 3) travel abroad by Americans because of their political beliefs, lawful activities or association; and 4) export of ideas or information which may be lawfully circulated in the United States.


Opposition to torture

WHEREAS the American psychologists are bound by the Ethical Principles to “respect the dignity and worth of the individual and strive for the preservation and protection of fundamental human rights and;

WHEREAS the existence of state-sponsored torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment has been documented in many nations around the world and;

WHEREAS psychological knowledge and techniques may be used to design and carry out torture and;

WHEREAS torture victims may suffer from long-term, multiple psychological and physical problems,

BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association condemns torture wherever it occurs, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association supports the U.N. Declaration and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the U.N. Principles of Medical Ethics, as well as the joint congressional Resolution opposing torture that was signed into law by President Reagan on October 4, 1984.


Human rights

That the discipline of psychology, and the academic and professional activities as psychologists, are relevant for securing and maintaining human rights. That it therefore be resolved that APA applauds the ongoing efforts of the United Nations to defend and promote human rights and undertakes to commend the main UN human rights instruments and documents to the attention of its boards, committees, and membership at large.

Seville statement on violence

Seville Statement on Violence (PDF, 140KB)


United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

WHEREAS all children across the world are born with the right to human dignity and the potential to realize their full capacities;

WHEREAS the future of the world is directly linked to the well-being of today's children;

WHEREAS millions of children still live in conditions of poverty, abuse, neglect, and exploitation;

WHEREAS comprehensive individual development (including psychological development) can take place only under conditions that protect one's human rights;

WHEREAS the United Nations, working for ten years with the cooperation of individuals, organizations, and governments; and having produced a Convention of Rights of the Child, will vote on whether to pass this first international human rights treaty on behalf of children in November 1989;

WHEREAS the American Psychological Association, its Officers and its governing Council share concern for the welfare of children;

WHEREAS while recognizing that some of the language of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child could be misconstrued and thereby used to limit the freedom of reproductive choice supported by APA, APA supports the U.N. Convention's recognition of cultural diversity within the context of an overriding concern for children's welfare.

THEREFORE, the Council of Representatives endorses the principles and spirit of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the child provided that the language is not used to limit freedom of reproductive choice as supported by the APA.


APA Resolution on UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention's Optional Protocols

APA Resolution on UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention's Optional Protocols


Resolution on culture and gender awareness in international psychology

Resolution on Culture and Gender Awareness in International Psychology


Resolution against genocide

Resolution against Genocide (PDF, 77KB)