Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to a fair trial, freedom of belief--these are among the rights guaranteed by our Constitution to all the citizens of our country. I am very proud of these constitutional guarantees, and so each year on December 15 (Bill of Rights Day) I join with others here in Raleigh at our county courthouse, in a public reading of the Bill of Rights and related amendments to our Constitution. After that we go out to lunch, blow out the candles of a birthday cake, and sing "Happy Birthday" (1997 was its 206th) to the Bill of Rights.
On December 10 of each year I participate in a similar set of activities for another major human-rights document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This, as you may know, includes not only many of the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, but a number of others as well (e.g., the right to education, the right to participate in the cultural life of the community, the right to asylum in other countries). A copy of the Declaration appears on pages 62-63. These rights are guaranteed to everyone, regardless of what country they are a citizen. This Declaration was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948; thus 1998 will mark the 50th anniversary of this event. Each year our President issues a single proclamation, declaring December 10 to be Human Rights Day, December 10-16, Human Rights Week, and December 15, Bill of Rights Day.
Since the 50th anniversary of the Declaration will occur this year, 1998 has been referred to as Human Rights Year. I am suggesting that we take advantage of this by scheduling at least one human-rights - related event as a part of our chapter programming. In light of the fact that the 1997-98 academic year is already well under way, it would probably make sense to do this during the fall 1998 semester.
What might a chapter do? There is much psychological research, the results of which have human-rights implications (e.g., on stereotyping, on confirmation bias, on procedural justice, on factors affecting the fairness of trials). A colloquium featuring someone, preferably, though not necessarily, currently engaged in research on one of these topics is a possibility. It could be a faculty member from your own or from another department, and from within or from outside your own institution. A panel discussion of the implications of results from some human-rights - related research or perhaps even a debate are other possibilities. Psi Chi might schedule the event(s) as a part of its own program, might collaborate with the Psychology Club, or might propose that the event be a part of the departmental colloquium series. Another possibility is that the collaboration be with an honor society or other student group(s) from one or more related departments (e.g., political science, sociology, education). In carrying out this activity, it would probably be helpful to provide a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to audience members so that the relationship between the research findings being discussed and particular provision(s) of the Declaration can be more readily made evident.
Here are two other activities that might be considered. If there is a display area within your department, the results of research relating to one or more human-rights issues might be presented, along with a copy of the Declaration or at least its relevant provision(s). (Our chapter at North Carolina State University in collaboration with our department will be featuring this year such research by departmental faculty in a large display case in our building.) Finally, there are several courses (e.g., social psychology, cognitive psychology, psychology and law) in which issues related to human rights might be discussed. Thus, for example, distribution of copies of the Declaration to departmental faculty might enhance the probability that a faculty member would discuss one or more of its provisions in her/his course(s). In addition, you might follow up by asking faculty whether there are aspects of the Declaration that might be covered in one or more of their courses.
These are some suggestions. I'm sure you can think of others. If you do, I would like to hear from you about them. Also, please let me know what activities in celebration of Human Rights Year occur this year on your campus, and the role played by your Psi Chi chapter. Feel free to get in touch with me through regular mail (Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University. Raleigh, 27695-7801); telephone, (919) 515-1728; fax, (919) 515-1716; or e-mail, SLATER@POE.COE.NCSU.EDU. Also, I expect to attend each of the regional meetings this year (i.e., EPA, MPA, RMPA, SEPA, SWPA, WPA) as well as the meetings of APA and APS, and perhaps we can talk then. In the meantime best wishes to each of you for 1998--Human Rights Year!
THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, therefore, the General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Article 11. (1) Everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence. (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offense, under national or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offense was committed.
Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own and to return to his country.
Article 14. (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecution genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 15. (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
Article 16. (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 17. (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
Article 21. (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Article 22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
Article 23. (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Article 27. (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Article 29. (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
--Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly,
December 10, 1948.
Spring 1998 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 52, 50-51), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 1998, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.