Video Promotion Project

To promote the launch of the Global Network of Psychologists for Human Rights, we are going to produce a celebratory video! It will begin with a short statement about the importance of human rights & psychology, followed by a collage of voices labeling human rights issues. Then the video will continue with short (1 minute) statements by Advisory Committee and Steering Committee members about the connection between psychology and human rights / human rights and psychology. These statements can be general or can be about a single topic.

Please read below for how you can contribute with your short videos (taken with your phone).  All videos can be uploaded on this site here

  • Video take #1: this purpose is to develop a film of many voices saying the areas in which psychology and human rights overlap. To do this we ask each of you to say these terms. Video: pause 5 seconds, say a content area (e.g. “children’s right to an education”; “women”; “refugees”) then pause 5 seconds more. You can make a continuous tape with several terms (we will edit out sections).
  • Video take #2: the purpose is to gather short statements endorsing the goals of the GNPHR and/or the connection between psychology and human rights, and why the GNPHR will help. We are aiming for short statements – at most 2-3 minutes, but shorter is fine too.
    Please try to answer these three questions:
    1. How are Human Rights and Psychology linked?
    2. How does knowledge of psychology enhance Human Rights advocacy?
    3. How does a Human Rights orientation enhance psychological science?

To submit your video(s):

Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 3 files.
Please upload your videos here (up to 3 short videos)
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Please upload your video here

Event: Human Rights in the New Normal – June 24, 25 2020

Fundamental Rights Association will launch first results of its Fundamental Rights Survey during the flagship online event “Human rights in the new normal – people’s views and experiences in EU societies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak” on 24 and 25 of June 2020. 

FRA’s report ‘What do rights mean for people in the EU’ will bereleased during the event. The report covers the general population’s experiences and views on their fundamental rights. The event is organised in cooperation with the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Norway Grants & EEA.

1)    Thematic panel debates live broadcasted

We are inviting you to watch two thematic panel debates live broadcasted (one on each day, starting around 10 AM – 11:30 AM): these sessions will be open to the public and aim to engage the audience through polling, chat and Q&A. Pre-registration to plenary sessions is optional.

2)    Country breakout sessions

FRP organisations working at national level are invited to join a country breakout session (60 minutes-session): these sessions will provide a space to further reflect and discuss the survey results from a national perspective. We encourage you to express your interest to join the breakout sessions by pre-registering before 19 June via https://fra.mci-events.eu/launch/breakouts/ . 


Kindly note that:

o   The 28 breakout sessions, covering 27 Member States and North Macedonia, will run in parallel over the two days between 12.00 and 15.30  (see schedule on the website)

o   Maximum one representative per organisation can take part in the breakout session.

o   FRA will do its best to accommodate interested national partners and aims at ensuring participation of a variety of stakeholders and a gender balance, however participation will need to be limited to 20-22 persons per breakout room to allow space for real dialogue.

o   Confirmation of your participation to a breakout session will be communicated to you by e-mail on 22 June along with the supporting documents.

o   In most cases, discussions may take place in the country’s national languages. In some cases, the discussions will be in English.

For more information about the event, the exact schedule of the breakout sessions and the full programme, see https://fra.mci-events.eu/

We look forward to your cooperation and seeing you virtually at the event. Please do not reply to this e-mail for your registration, only via the dedicated website.

Commentary: What Matters Today

Commentary: By Polli Hagenaars, The Netherlands [1]

It is apparent that not only in the Netherlands, but worldwide, protests are on the rise and are strongly politicised as is the Covid-19 pandemic. While our hearts bleed, thinking of the family and friends of George Floyd, of the fear and anger of our fellow human beings, of our colleagues in the US [2], the question arises what can we, what can I as a psychologist do? Some things are clear to me –  showing my compassion, empathy and solidarity and openly protest against the violence and divisiveness of the political reactions. But more action is needed.

Last Monday, the Dam square in Amsterdam was filled with people demonstrating for ‘Black lives matter’. The required 1.5 meter Covid-19 distance rule was not followed. The mayor of Amsterdam decided not to involve the police to end the demonstration, not to respond to a peaceful demonstration against police violence with police violence. Politicians, mostly from the right side of the political spectrum protest that she did not intervene, but it is clear that this was a respectful decision, given the circumstances. 

Fundamental human rights are being violated everywhere, and for a long time have been withheld from many groups of people. Institutional racism has divided humanity. Whose problem is this? As with many problems the person or group who is dehumanised, neglected, excluded, has to solve the problem. Well-known mechanisms are among others: adapting to the majority rules, including developing false identities, denying the own origin or role playing. Also, positively: by good education and by supportive and validating families, friends and groups. As I know from therapeutic interventions, this needs a systemic approach, and learning to put ‘the monkey back on the other shoulder’.

Change is needed on all levels (with thanks to Dr Valerie Batts): the personal, social, cultural and institutional levels. Starting with the personal: we can train ourselves to ‘decolonise our minds’, to get awareness of the racist ideas, feelings and images, that seeped in during my (our) upbringing. The social level: the prejudices and stereotypes and the unequal relationships; e.g., leaving the office on Friday afternoon for the business drinks at the pub and letting a cleaning crew in, the cleaning crew with most members belonging to a minority group. This is just one example, but many can be given. The cultural level: customs, rituals, the way we eat, speak and dress, although changing in time, most of them are defined by the majority. That makes it difficult for newcomers to fit in a new (job) environment. 

Even and maybe more important is the institutional level, the institutional racism in favour to the majority, often unaware of their privileges. For real change, not tolerance is needed –can even be devastating-, but sharing, stepping down, and redistributing space and materials. This is giving a special responsibility for politicians and policy makers who define the rules. Are the rules in favour of themselves or for the benefit for all, restoring dignity, power imbalances and promoting equity. As Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of the Earth: “What matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be.” 

For me as a psychologist, it calls for modesty and growing awareness, and in joint action with colleagues around the world to help develop a psychology that decolonizes, is multi-indigenous, and can restore the dignity of people, especially from historically marginalized or disadvantaged groups. 

Human rights matter and psychology matters for human rights.

Polli Hagenaars, Amsterdam, 4 June 2020


[1] http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1102665899193&ca=2b326980-2f92-447e-ac10-7faac4e1ab3a
[2] https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7211991843002750989


Commentary: Human Rights Challenges

Thoughts about the human rights challenges we confront in the fog of the war with the Corona Virus

Commentary by Neal S. Rubin, PhD, ABPP
April, 2020

Given my interests in human rights, I find myself thinking about some of the moral and ethical challenges we are grappling with today as we confront a global pandemic.  Across countries and cultures, we are making sacrifices for the common good to deal with the Corona Virus. In numerous countries across the globe, citizens are engaged in social distancing, staying at home, avoiding large gatherings not only for themselves, but for the safety of others as well.  As concerned citizens, we accept this responsibility.  Out of a sense of trust in leadership and one another, there is a shared acceptance of these enforcement measures to contain or mitigate the local and worldwide effects of Covid-19. Governments encourage and in places monitor adherence to these new norms of conduct regarding freedom of movement.  At the same time, these limitations that compromise our rights are also a result of authoritarian steps taken by leadership–for the good of all.  

We are in a state of emergency– truly exceptional circumstances.  Some refer to it as a war with a virus.  But there is a phrase that is used to capture how, during war, judgment may become skewed, that significant miscalculations and profound errors in behavior may be made in the “fog of war.”  And in such a circumstance, questions emerge with respect to human rights.  Are there circumstances in which human rights may need to be compromised for the greater good? When should we hold firm to the protections of human rights principles even when unpopular?

There are many challenges before us that require thoughtful, informed leadership. Here are some to consider:

Challenges to the Right of Privacy

Today, governments are creating legislation that extends the power of the state and in some cases of governmental leaders (Hungary).  The balance of protections for individual rights and the right of governments to protect society is a delicate one in the fog of war.  It can be argued that the mass surveillance we have seen in some societies (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea) has been pivotal to “flattening the curve.” There is abundant scientific evidence that contact tracing works.  Tracking citizens by geo-location has been shown to enhance survival (Israel, India). At the same time, the harvesting of personal data by some governments without the knowledge of citizens violates the right to privacy. 

These same dilemmas have emerged in the corporate tech world. Here there are significant questions of privacy and free speech as companies attempt to balance these principles with censorship of false content or ‘fake news’ which proliferates on social media platforms.  Misinformation may propel the pandemic, raising the specter of increasing death rates. At the same time, what happens when leaders, under the guise of preventing misinformation, also create harm by controlling speech on and off line for political purposes?

There has also been evidence that Tech companies are seizing on the emergency as an opportunity to advance their corporate interests. Numerous reports in the press describe that Zoom, the enormously popular platform for teleconferencing, has benefitted financially by sharing the personal information of users without transparency to consumers who sign up to utilize this service. During the time of the pandemic, the utilization of this platform has exploded in the social, educational and in the business spheres.

Challenges for the Protection of Human Subjects

The global scientific community is racing to find efficacious treatments, vaccines and eventually a cure.  The safety and health of the world community is at stake.  In laboratories and medical centers throughout the world, investigators are working night and day to find answers to save and protect lives. But even science is not without risks when it comes to medical experimentation. We have standards for the protections of the rights of human subjects. Is the current emergency a situation that requires some adjustment of these protections in the interest of the greater good? What is the appropriate role of institutional review boards at such a time?  It is ubiquitous to hear that “we must rely on the science,” but there are competing interests in the science of discovery that we must be alert to that might impact the rights of human subjects.

Challenges to the right to health and healthcare

Further, who will benefit from these scientific advances?  Will all global citizens have equal rights to the vaccine and the cure?  Billions of people do not have access to adequate healthcare. At such an exceptional time, it is imperative that healthcare be available as widely as possible for the benefit of not only the individual, but the good of humanity.  Experts predict that the virus will wax and wane, but the key to containing advancement will need to be a vision for the public health of all.  Access to healthcare is a human right.  

Challenges to the rights of vulnerable people: healthcare rationing

Similarly, our health care professionals are dealing with extraordinary pressures as they are faced with the rationing of medical care of their patients.  There is enormous stress on them as they face moral and ethical dilemmas. Governments attempting to address this situation are weighing in. A recent report in the New York Times documented that individual states in the United States are setting limits on access to life saving care. While driven by the intensity of the moment, the lack of medical resources for both patients and staff  forces anguishing questions to be asked:

 Who lives and who dies? Who is valuable and why?

Being faced with rationing care, for example, the Times reports that the state of Alabama’s plan designates that “severe or profound mental retardation” as well as “moderate to severe dementia” should be considered “unlikely candidates for ventilator support.”  The dark history of Eugenics comes to mind.  Similar sentiments are articulated by some in leadership in the United States about restarting the US economy to save some lives, while it is understood that others will perish as a consequence.  Such statements are particularly egregious coming from the leadership of a nation formerly the beacon to guide the free world. 

These initiatives violate international law and international declarations of rights: The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees the right to healthcare, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which guarantees the right to the benefits of science. The floating of current ideas that ‘older persons’ might be sacrificed for the common good is in serious discussion by leadership.

Social Justice and Inequality

Today there are issues of life and death.  Who gets tested, who gets care, who gets a ventilator? It is clear to me that health disparities across societies will only be accentuated by the current pandemic and response to the crisis– culturally, economically and politically (compromises of fundamental democratic rights and principles).  Evidence is emerging in the US of racial disparities in Corona Virus death rates which are best understood as a consequence of generations of discrimination and marginalization leaving minorities in communities of color vulnerable to lower life expectancy even before the pandemic.

In many places across the globe, social distancing is not a realistic option, medical care is scarce, there will be no ventilators.  Inevitably, those who are most vulnerable will suffer tremendously.  The virus has been devastating in high income countries with advanced healthcare systems. What will happen to low- and middle-income countries with fragile or even no healthcare infrastructure?  As global citizens, it is in our interest to address these inequalities much as the UN has done by establishing the Sustainable Development Goals.  They represent a vision that “no one will be left behind.”

But what are the limits of the compromises to our rights?  Do we inadvertently risk promoting inequalities across communities and across societies, thinking we are acting in the common good? And what of the future at a time when autocrats are on the rise who would abuse these limitations of rights—today and in the future? Might certain limitations of rights be abused for political purposes, the rights never returned to civil society?

So, we not only have a devastating global medical crisis, we also have a crisis of human rights.  This rights crisis has profound implications for social justice.  None of us knows what the future will hold; we do not know what the new normal will look like for months, perhaps years to come.  In my view we risk amplifying pre-existing inequalities and doubling down on those most vulnerable in our world.  Without greater attention to human rights, I fear we are moving toward a caste-like system in which only certain segments of societies will be protected. 

As our children and grandchildren view the current historic era from a distance will they find emergency legislation sunsetted; political power returned to the people; free speech resurrected; mass surveillance curtailed? 

We are at a time when we need thoughtful, informed guidance to address these challenges.  We are faced with profound questions about life and death, right and wrong.  We mourn and we feel the sadness and heartbreak of those that have suffered and perished here and around the world.  There are lessons to be learned, questions to be answered, hope to be nurtured.   Speaking personally, the place I look to for guidance on these questions is viewing the challenges before us through the lens of human rights. 

4/15/20

Human Rights in Times of Corona

Commentary by Polli Hagenaars

We are worried about the ongoing corona crisis. We are worried about our loved-ones, about people around us, and about of those in vulnerable situations. We think of the refugees in Syria, at the Turkish borders, at the Mexican/US borders and elsewhere, of those on the move, of people ‘sans papiers’, and in the many refugee camps, in particular camps with subhuman standards, such as the Moria camp. We think of the homeless and the stateless; of children in need of getting away from their home environment, and those separated from their good and stable caretakers outside their homes, not being able to follow quality education; of elderly deprived from their caring families and friends; of the health care-takers working day and night. We think about regions where persons are deprived of necessary medical health provisions, where they may be suffering already from the terrible consequences of hurricanes, fires or floods; or of the countries in southern Europe struggling with the cut back on health care spending during the Eurozone debt crisis. And we are worried about the discrimination we see towards people from certain countries from where the virus seemed to have originated [1]


[1] Trump: “Chinese virus,” (NYT, March 19)