APA Adopts Human Rights Framework, Led by PAU President Maureen O’Connor

Monday, April 5, 2021

The American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution to integrate human rights into a framework that will “underpin its decision-making” on February 27, 2021. The resolution grew out of a report by the APA Task Force on Human Rights, chaired by PAU President Maureen O’Connor, PhD, JD

The APA Task Force was created in 2016. In its 2020 report, the Task Force concluded that while APA had often addressed human rights concerns and included human rights language in its strategic plan, the lack of an organizational framework contributed to “a lack of clarity about how to enact its commitment to human rights.”
Of special note: Dr. O’Connor will join other Task Force members in a presentation on their work at this summer’s APA convention, and is moderating a panel on global psychology and human rights with psychologists from three countries on April 22.
“I had the honor to work with five outstanding psychology experts in human rights to provide guidance to APA. Our work included extensive reviews and consultation over a number of years with an eye toward bringing a human rights perspective to the important work that APA does every day,” said President Maureen O’Connor.
As a result, the Task Force recommended that the APA “align its ethics, governance, and programmatic activities with human rights principles and practices as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Additionally, the committee recommended adoption of the “Five Connections Between Psychology and Human Rights” as a framework to make explicit connections between human rights and psychology.
“As a University President, I was especially pleased that APA adopted our recommendations to ‘encourage the teaching of human rights as a core element of psychology education and training,’ and ‘encourage the growth and development of human rights research in psychology,” said O’Connor. “A number of PAU faculty and students are deeply involved in this important work and the new APA policy provides further support and incentive to expand attention to human rights concerns.”
The APA’s governing Council of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted the resolution at its February 27, 2021 meeting.
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