Human rights promote human happiness and wellbeing because they protect people's vital needs and fundamental interests. The protection of these basic rights further enables people to pursue those things they find enjoyable and worthwhile. This is expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25).
Violations of human rights cause serious harm to individuals but also more generally undermine the community’s expectations that they can count on having their own human rights respected.
Psychologists engage in conduct which promotes equity and the protection of people’s human rights, legal rights, and moral rights (APS, 2007). The APS Code of Ethics reflects psychologists’ responsibilities which include principles of respect for the rights and dignity of people and peoples, propriety, and integrity. The Code is complemented by sets of ethical guidelines, including guidelines on the provision of psychological services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, lesbian, gay and bisexual clients, and older adults, amongst others. The Universal declaration of ethical principles for psychologists (2008) explicitly recognises that Psychology as a science and a profession functions within the context of human society, and as such has responsibilities to society that include using psychological knowledge to improve the condition of individuals, families, groups, communities, and society.
The APS has raised specific concerns and contributed to debates around human rights, including: