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BPS News

BPS supports the United Nations call to Stand Up for Someone's Rights Today

09 December 2016

On this year's Human Rights Day the British Psychological Society (BPS) supports the call to stand up for human rights.

Tomorrow is Human Rights Day and the British Psychological Society supports the United Nations call to ‘Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today’.

Along with our partners at the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA), we want to encourage psychologists to be the mediators between human rights, persons and policy makers in order for people to be able to enjoy their fundamental rights.

The BPS believes that psychologists can make a real difference. With their knowledge, experience and skills, psychologists have an obligation to assist in protecting people from discrimination, hate speech and exclusion. They can and should encourage them to re-find their identity and dignity, to enhance their resilience and to find their place in our societies.

BPS President Professor Peter Kinderman said:

“The promotion of fundamental human rights is at the heart of professional and academic psychology. As observers of human behaviour, psychologists understand that these principles are vital for our collective and individual wellbeing. As practitioners, we understand that our interventions can only ever be partial solutions if we fail to address fundamental underlying issues of inequity and violations of human rights.

"I wholeheartedly support the 2016 International Human Rights day and more specifically, I urge my colleagues to reflect on this year's theme. This places a specific and particular responsibility on each one of us to take action, and not merely to assume that this is an issue for other people. The protection of the rights of our fellow human beings is an issue for each one of us, today."

How can psychologists help? They can:

  • stand up for human rights and speak out when those rights are under threat to be violated;
  • give special attention to vulnerable groups like children;
  • make absolutely clear to their clients (if needed by interpreters) that privacy is a fundamental right and that psychologists are bound to this;
  • help make policies to connect people instead of dividing them;
  • stand up against discrimination in words as well as in deeds, institutional as well on a daily base.

Dr Tony Wainwright, BPS representative on the EFPA Board of Human Rights and Psychology added:

“Until relatively recently we have lived through a time when human rights have been protected as never before, but that time may be coming to an end unless we take a stand to ensure they are sustained. For psychologists this means learning about human rights and what it means to think about our work from that perspective. It will not be enough to know about what is happening in the world and the suffering people are experiencing, but to take action as violations of Human Rights have major psychological consequences.”

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. 

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