Editor: Polli Hagenaars, Netherlands and Merry Bullock, USA/Estonia

Table of Contents

HIGHLIGHTS: UN International day of Living in Peace; Resources on Poverty




  • Academic Freedom / Higher Education
  • Armed Conflict
  • Children’s Rights
  • COVID-19
  • Crimes Against Humanity
  • Data Rights / Personal Data / Misinformation
  • Human Rights and Psychology: Theory, Epistemology, Ethics, Plans
  • Human rights education
  • Mental Health and Human Rights
  • Poverty / Inequity
  • Processes of Decolonising






16 May, UN International Day of Living Together in Peace
The UN General-Assembly, in its resolution 72/130, declared 16 May the International Day of Living Together in Peace, as a means of regularly mobilizing the efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity. The Day aims to uphold the desire to live and act together, united in differences and diversity, in order to build a sustainable world of peace, solidarity and harmony.

See Also Armed Conflict below.

[International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool – Ed.]

New Resources on Poverty and Human Rights

BLOG: Poverty and in-equality at the heart of the post Covid-19 human rights agenda
Blog written by Morten Kjaerum, Director Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. According to the Freedom in the World Index, 2020 was the fifteenth consecutive year that experienced a global decline in freedom. The trend was accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis. Posted GNPHR May, 2021

Research Handbook on Human Rights and Poverty, Eds. Martha F. Davis, Morten Kjaerum, Amanda Lyons, Edward Elger.
[Pblisher’s Summary}: This important Research Handbook explores the nexus between human rights, poverty and inequality as a critical lens for understanding and addressing key challenges of the coming decades, including the objectives set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. The Research Handbook starts from the premise that poverty is not solely an issue of minimum income and explores the profound ways that deprivation and distributive inequality of power and capability relate to economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. Read the Blog written by Marten Kjaerum, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.


  • GNPHR invites you to contribute to the blog series!! Blog-Opinion pieces can be on general human rights issues; human rights education or strategies for raising the profile of human rights within one’s institution or professional life. Students are welcome to submit a blog on human rights issues/topics from the perspective of students, including on student needs for learning about and addressing human rights. Please contact the GNPHR Blog editor (blogeditor@humanrightspsychology.org) with ideas for the blog  you would like to write!
  • GNPHR invites you to send news/information/events about relevant human rights issues or activities for publication in the bulletin.


Report on Colombia

Situation of human rights in Colombia – Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/46/76) (Advance edited version) UN, 10 February 2021.  The present report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights describes the human rights situation in Colombia in 2020, focusing on security and human rights, civic space, access to justice and the fight against impunity, and inequalities in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also assesses the implementation of the human rights aspects of the peace agreement signed between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army. The report puts forward recommendations to contribute to improving the human rights situation.  Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Marta Hurtado , 4 May 2021, Press briefing note on Colombia. ‘We are deeply alarmed at developments in the city of Cali in Colombia overnight, where police opened fire on demonstrators protesting against tax reforms, reportedly killing and injuring a number of people.
Our office in Colombia is working to verify the exact number of casualties, and establish how this terrible incident came about in Cali.  Human rights defenders are also reporting they have been harassed and threatened.
We express our profound shock at the events there and stress our solidarity with those who have lost their lives, as well as the injured and their families.’

Scholars at Risk ReportReport on the use of tear gas and other force in response to a nonviolent, on-campus student protest at the Universidad Del Valle, Colombia.  [from the report]:
On April 23, 2021, police stormed the Universidad del Valle campus and fired tear gas at student protesters in an effort to evict them from campus.
Student protesters occupied administrative facilities at the Universidad del Valle seeking academic guarantees that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as providing technical equipment so students can engage in remote learning.
On April 22, the governor of Valle del Cauca, Clara Luz Roldán, and the rector of the university, Édgar Varela, invited students to meet and asked them to leave campus peacefully. Available sources do not indicate whether a meeting took place prior to the arrival of police.
Around 6 AM on April 23, police arrived on campus to remove the students before they were able to speak to the university administration. Governor Roldán and Varela reportedly made a joint decision to send the police to remove students from campus.
According to Varela, police attempted to urge the students to peacefully evacuate the premises. Video footage from the police raid shows students standing under an outdoor overhang in front of a building at the university when a line of police officers descends on the students and begins firing tear gas. One report by Infobae noted that stun grenades were also used. Available sources do not indicate that students responded with violence.


Academic Freedom / Higher Education 

Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Media Review – Subscribe here
Sample review – week of May 7-13, 2021 https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/academic-freedom-media-review

Armed Conflict

Open letter from social psychologist Daniel Bar-Tal on the need to stop the Palestine-Israeli conflict now. Published in Palestine-Israel Journal: https://pij.org/articles/1230/open-letter-from-my-mind-and-my-heart-the-way-i-view-the-situation

Children’ Rights

Pope: child abuse is a kind of “psychological murder”. Robin Gomes, Vatican News, May 15, 2021. Describing child abuse as a kind of “psychological murder”, the Holy Father said, in many cases, it is a “cancellation of childhood”.  The protection of children against sexual exploitation is a duty of all states, which must identify both traffickers and abusers. He said it is a duty to denounce and prevent child abuse in the various spheres of society, such as in schools, sporting, recreational and cultural institutions, religious communities and by individuals.  He also called for specific measures for effective assistance to victims of paedophilia. “Continue your work without hesitation, paying particular attention to the educational aspect, in order to form a firm conscience in people and eradicate the culture of abuse and exploitation.”


Artificial Intelligence and Covid-19: Applications and Implications. See under Personal Data.

Crimes Against Humanity

House Panel Advances Bill to Study Reparations in Historic Vote. Nicholas Fandos, NY Times, April 14, 2021. The legislation, which would create a panel to consider reparations for slavery, is being considered as President Biden works to address racial inequity.

Data Rights /Personal Data / Misinformation

Time to regulate AI that interprets human emotions. Kate Crawford, Nature, April 6, 2021.  The pandemic is being used as a pretext to push unproven artificial-intelligence tools into workplaces and schools. During the pandemic, technology companies have been pitching their emotion-recognition software for monitoring workers and even children remotely. Take, for example, a system named 4 Little Trees. Developed in Hong Kong, the program claims to assess children’s emotions while they do classwork. It maps facial features to assign each pupil’s emotional state into a category such as happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise and fear. It also gauges ‘motivation’ and forecasts grades. Similar tools have been marketed to provide surveillance for remote workers. By one estimate, the emotion-recognition industry will grow to US$37 billion by 2026.  There is deep scientific disagreement about whether AI can detect emotions. A 2019 review found no reliable evidence for it. “Tech companies may well be asking a question that is fundamentally wrong,” the study concluded (L. F. Barrett et al. Psychol. Sci. Public Interest 20, 1–68; 2019).

Artificial Intelligence and Covid-19: Applications and Implications, report AAAS, May 2021.  This report was produced as a part of the Artificial Intelligence: Applications/Implications (AI)² Initiative (https://www.aaas.org/ai2) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS is the world’s largets multidisciplinary scientific membership organization. The goal of the AAAS (AI)² Initiative is to contribute to the responsible development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) such that AI alleviates rather than exacerbates social inequalities. Report prepared by: Ilana Harrus, Senior Program Associate (AAAS) Jessica Wyndham, Program Director (AAAS)
The revolutionary power of computers to “learn” from large datasets and use this information to make predictions is unprecedented. Loosely defined under the umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI), these complex systems are already applied in multiple contexts: at home, at work, in decisions about loans and college admissions, in vehicles and transportation systems, in weapons, in surveillance, in healthcare, and in policing and judicial sentencing. Future applications of AI could extend even further, encompassing most aspects of our lives.

‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation. Max Fisher, NY Times, May 7, 2021.
Social and psychological forces are combining to make the sharing and believing of misinformation an endemic problem with no easy solution.
We are in an era of endemic misinformation — and outright disinformation. Plenty of bad actors are helping the trend along. But the real drivers, some experts believe, are social and psychological forces that make people prone to sharing and believing misinformation in the first place. And those forces are on the rise.
“Why are misperceptions about contentious issues in politics and science seemingly so persistent and difficult to correct?” Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth College political scientist, posed in a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Human Rights and Psychology: Theory, Epistemology, Ethics, Plans

APA adopts resolution committing to human rights framework
March 8, 2021 WASHINGTON –
WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association has adopted a resolution pledging to integrate its longstanding concerns for human rights (PDF, 153KB) and related initiatives into a framework that will underpin its decision-making.

Human Rights Education

Becoming African psychologists: Decolonisation within a postgraduate psychology module at the University of Johannesburg. See under ‘Processes of decolonising’.

Mental Health and Human Rights

Book release: Human Rights and Clinical Psychology in the United Kingdom from 1948 to 2018: A Critical Historical Analysis. Jones, C., 2019.  Human rights morality and law represent an authoritative way to challenge systems of oppression that can have a deleterious impact on people’s mental health. Clinical psychology and human rights uphold similar underlying principles such as dignity, respect and equality. Clinical psychologists often work with individuals who have experienced, and continue to experience, human rights violations. However, the individualising technologies of the profession continue to be criticised for not challenging abuses of power and the perpetuation of social inequalities.

Poverty / Inequity

See this issue’s Highlights

Public policy and health in the Trump era. Steffie Woolhandler* et al. The Lancet, 2021; 397: 705–53, February 11, 2021. Growing disparities by socioeconomic status and geography. Lagging life expectancy in the USA has coincided with growing income-based and education-based mortality gaps among adults. These inequalities in mortality mirror widening economic inequality, with rising incomes for the wealthiest decile of the population (and huge gains for the very rich), but stagnant real incomes for the bottom 50%. By 2014, the life expectancy of the wealthiest 1% of men was 15 years longer than that of the poorest 1%; the difference for women was 10 years.

Processes of Decolonising

Becoming African psychologists: Decolonisation within a postgraduate psychology module at the University of Johannesburg.  N. Joosub, South African Journal of Higher Education. Volume 35 | Number 1 | 2021 March | pages 192‒208.
[Abstract] There is a compelling need for curriculum design and processes of teaching in South African higher education institutions to heed calls for decolonisation and relevance. Within university Psychology teaching spaces, both the what and the how of knowledge production require transformation and epistemic emancipation. This study explored the perceptions of students regarding the decolonisation processes within a postgraduate Psychology module at the University of Johannesburg. Through the thematic analyses of blogs written by students, results indicated the students benefitted from decolonisation initiatives through three interdependent processes. These processes were (1) Learning Real World Skills from Peers, (2) Bringing it Home: Making Psychology Relevant, and (3) Becoming African Psychologists. Academics in higher education institutions have an ontoepistemological responsibility to encourage students to be critical of the hegemony of Western imperialist forms of knowledge. Therefore, decolonisation initiatives should include students becoming agentic actors who chart the course of their learning processes. Critical thinking skills may facilitate the formation of identities that increase students’ agency and creativity within traditionally rigid and hierarchical academic structures.

Decolonial Feminisms: An Interview with Françoise Vergès. Will Forrester, PEN Transmissions, April 30, 2021. About the book A Decolonial Feminism’. For those who haven’t yet read this book, can I please ask: ‘Who cleans the world?’ Women of colour, black, brown, indigenous women, everywhere. Women who wake up at dawn and travel for hours on public transport to clean hospitals, universities, commercial malls, airports, railway stations, but also white bourgeois bodies, elderly bodies, children. They perform the daily work of cleaning and caring that keeps society functioning. They are made invisible. Their struggles raise a fundamental question, and this is not about sharing domestic work. It is wider, more radical. They say, If we aspire to a just society, who will clean the world?


April 2021 –Human Rights Watch report: A Threshold Crossed. [Summary from the web]: About 6.8 million Jewish Israelis and 6.8 million Palestinians live today between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, an area encompassing Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the latter made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Throughout most of this area, Israel is the sole governing power; in the remainder, it exercises primary authority alongside limited Palestinian self-rule. Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Reply: Israel rejects ‘preposterous’ report claiming it’s committing ‘crimes against humanity’ by persecuting Palestinians.Sky News, Mark Stone, April 17 2021. Human Rights Watch says Israel’s actions in the West Bank amount to apartheid, while Israel claims the organisation is biased.


Article from Behavioral Scientist, 2019: Making the social leap: A conversation on how our psychology evolved. Interviews author –  Von Hippel, W. (2018). The Social Leap: The New Evolutionary Science of Who We Are, Where We Come From, and What Makes Us Happy. New York, NY: HarperCollins.  Comment from VonHippel (quoted from the article): The underlying idea behind evolutionary psychology is that our mind has to evolve just like our body does. When we think of evolution, we typically think about changes in our body. You can think of an example of evolving slowly from a chimp into us—your legs will change as you cover ground and don’t climb trees anymore, your lower set of hands will turn into feet, that sort of thing. And it’s very easy to imagine how that would happen. What we tend to forget is that, just like how limbs that don’t suit your lifestyle can be debilitating, attitudes that don’t suit your abilities are also debilitating. And so you can imagine ancestors of ours who loved to eat feces, or who enjoyed tickling lions on the chin, or who had preferences that would have been dangerous, those ancestors would be less likely to survive and thrive, less likely to have children of their own, and so therefore less likely to pass on those tendencies.

Four Hundred Souls, – a resounding history of African America. Eds. Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N Blain. Reviewed in The Guardian, April 11, 2021. “In this rich anthology spanning 1619-2019, no fewer than 90 writers, historians, lawyers and activists challenge the myths of America’s past. The word “community” in the subtitle is key to this book’s accomplishment. Historians do not write history; they curate it. And Four Hundred Souls is all the richer for its plurality of perspectives. Its ethos chimes with JB Russwurm, a pioneering black journalist who, in a 1827 editorial for Freedom’s Journal, argued: ‘Too long have others spoken for us [such that] our vices and our degradation are ever arrayed against us, but our virtues are passed by unnoticed.'”

LAND: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World. Simon Winchester, Harperluxe, January 2021, describing in detail the rich and complex history of humankind’s relationship with our planet’s 37 billion acres of habitable land, appeared in hardcover in the US on January 19th and in the UK two days later. Already it has garnered a handful of stellar reviews, including lengthy notices in the New Yorker, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, among other publications. I am currently on a book tour—flying from city to city and country to country while remaining steadfastly at home in Massachusetts, marooned like all authors by the pandemic. The tour’s final stops will be in late February in Sydney and early March in Auckland—cities where, since it is their austral summer, I would dearly love to be. No matter: the book is doing very well, and I hope that if you see it (or hear it: I narrate the audio version), you will enjoy what I have to say. It was certainly the greatest fun to write!


ICP2021 – Conference Human Rights, Dignity and Justice – October 22-24, 2021 Deadline for submissions for “lightning” talks May 31, 2021. https://icpweb.org/icp-annual-conference/icp2021-virtual/ . Join your colleagues for 2 days of exploring psychology and human rights!

Call for Papers – Special Issue, 2021 – CICE When the Oppressed Rise: Education as a Tool for Decolonization. Deadline: July 4, 2021.  The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Paulo Freire. One of the most influential educators of all time, Freire’s seminal work, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” continues to shape policy and practice in education worldwide more than five decades after its publication. Friere’s  book argues that traditional forms of education have been contributing to the dehumanization of individuals. This dehumanization emerges from an unfair social order that divides people into the “oppressed” and the “oppressors.” In Freire’s view, because oppressors benefit from the logic of oppression and do not want or know how to operate outside of it, the oppressed are the most prepared agents to lead on the path towards freedom. Through education and the development of critical consciousness, Freire proposes that historically marginalized groups can and will change the world for the better.
This call for papers is an opportunity to pay homage to Freire’s legacy and recognize the efforts of many oppressed individuals and communities around the globe that are using education as a means to overcome different forms of oppression and promote the decolonization of knowledge and educational practices.
For the 2021 Special Issue, CICE welcomes submissions related to topics focusing on how historically marginalized individuals and groups in diverse settings use education to make their voices heard. 

FRA Traineeship Programme 2021-2022. The novelty of this call is the launch of a new traineeship programme for people with disabilities.

Deadline to submit applications: 28/05/2021 13:00.

The United Nations Department of Global Communications Outreach Division is pleased to invite your high school to participate in the 12th Annual Global Student Conference on slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. The conference will take place virtually on the 10 June 2021 from 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. EDT. High school students will have an opportunity to interact with youth from across the globe and learn more about the history of the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on the modern world. In advance of the conference, students will be asked to research either an enslaved person of African descent who fought for justice, a site of  memory in their country, or a project related to this year’s theme: “Ending Slavery’s Legacy of Racism: A Global Imperative for Justice.” Subscribe

World Justice Challenge 2021 Finalists. Meet 30 Rule of Law Changemakers, Finalists for the World Justice Challenge 2021. A panel of expert judges will select five winning organizations from the pool of 30 finalists, including one for each theme. One winner will receive WJP’s first-ever Ruth Bader Ginsburg Legacy Prize, and a sixth winner will be selected from the finalists through a popular vote by WJP’s global rule of law network. Winners will be announced the week of May 24. Each winning organization will receive a $20,000 cash prize and opportunities for networking support from the World Justice Project throughout the year. Explore all 30 World Justice Challenge 2021 finalists below, or browse finalists by theme here.

At the 32nd International Congress of Psychology (ICP2021), Prague, Czech Republic, 18-23 July 2021. https://www.icp2020.com/, several symposia, keynotes and round tables will be dedicated to human rights and psychology.

14TH European Public Health conference, 10 – 12 November 2021, virtual edition. Theme: Public health futures in a changing world. https://ephconference.eu/index.php

CONTACTS: Published by the Global Network of Psychologists for Human Rights – www.humanrightspsychology.org

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