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 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. Watch event video.
Human Rights: A Basic Overview
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 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.
Additional Human Rights Education and Training Resources
Internationally Recognized Human Rights and Psychology: Annotated Bibliography (2000-2015)
This annotated bibliography provides empirical articles and chapters dealing with attitudes towards internationally-recognized human rights.
Teaching psychology: Infusing human rights (Psychology Teachers Network, February 2016)
Linda M. Woolf, PhD, provides advice to psychologists for including a focus on human rights and ethics in education and training.
Human Rights and Undergraduate Research (Council on Undergraduate Research)
The mission of the Council on Undergraduate Research is to support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship.
Human Rights Training for Adults: What Twenty-Six Evaluation Studies Say About Design, Implementation and Follow-up
The Research in Human Rights Education Paper Series intends to foster and disseminate research and evaluation in the practice of human rights education, training and learning. (Human Rights Education Associates)
Syllabi on Science and Human Rights
This collection of syllabi related to science and human rights is intended for use by educators from across the scientific disciplines who are interested in incorporating human rights into their curricula and training, as well as for scientists seeking to explore how human rights relate to the practice of their discipline.
United for Human Rights is an international, not-for-profit organization dedicated to implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at local, regional, national and international levels. A free information kit is available for educators, human rights advocates and civil rights activists whose classroom, group instruction or community learning students are 18 years of age or older.
What are the origins of human rights and why are they important today? Take a quick refresher read: "Human Rights 101: A Brief College-Level Overview" (PDF, 1MB).
How to integrate the teaching of psychology with concern for human rights (Psychology Teachers Network, May 2016).
Sam McFarland, PhD, gives his thoughts on teaching "the most important untaught subject." …
Issues, Opportunities and Advocacy Resources
- United Nations Human Rights Council adopts the resolution "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" (Sept. 26, 2014)
- Anatomy of success. The resolution that almost wasn't
- Learn more about APA's involvement with LGBTI Concerns and International Psychology and the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues
The Human Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of everyone to "share in scientific advancement and its benefits" (Article 27(2)). This right became the basis for Article 15 (1)(b) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).
How do psychologists work with human rights abuse victims?
International organizations and other training opportunities prepare psychologists for work with victims of trauma and torture.
Answers to Your Questions About Psychology and Human Rights
Learn about important human rights issues and how APA and psychologists are working to help.
What You Can Do
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AAAS and Human Rights Program
Scientific responsibility, human rights and law program. Addresses ethical, legal and human rights issues related to the conduct and application of science and technology.
Scholars at Risk
Undertakes activities on behalf of scholars still under threat in their home country-such as those suffering prosecution on improper or false charges or wrongfully imprisoned, as well as against widespread threats to an entire faculty, university or system.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
PHR focuses on the critical role of forensic science, clinical medicine and public health research in ensuring that human rights abuses are properly documented using the most rigorous scientific methodologies possible.
The Committee on Human Rights (CHR)
Founded in 1976, CHR is a standing committee of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.
Related APA Publications
APA Offices and Programs
APA Ethics Office
APA's Ethics Office supports the Ethics Committee in adjudicating ethics complaints, offers educational workshops and seminars, provides ethics consultations, and serves as a resource to APA members.
Committee on International Relations in Psychology
CIRP develops contact between psychologists in the United States and their colleagues abroad.
Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest
BAPPI assures that psychology serves the public interest and advances social justice, health and well-being for all people. BAPPI accomplishes this goal through interactions with its reporting committees, other APA boards, committees and divisions, and through collaboration with like-minded external professional and interest groups.