Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Justice Research Centre
The codes of ethics and conduct of a number of psychology bodies explicitly refer to human rights, and the American Psychological Association recently expanded the use of the construct when it amended standard 1.02 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. What is unclear is how these references to human rights should be interpreted. In this article I examine the historical development of human rights and associated constructs and the contemporary meaning of human rights. As human rights are generally associated with law, morality, or religion, I consider to which of forms of these references most likely refer. I conclude that these references in ethical codes are redundant and that it would be preferable not to refer to human rights in codes. Instead, the profession should acknowledge human rights as a separate and complimentary norm system that governs the behavior of psychologists and should ensure that they have adequate knowledge of human rights and encourage them to promote human rights.