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Organization: Psychologists for Social Responsibility
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
Posted: April 30 2005,16:58 If you wrote this report, you will find a button here that you may click
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) members  agree that the events of the last 5 years have resulted in significant deterioration in progress toward a culture of peace.  In spite of these developments, PsySR is committed to finding opportunities for influence on public policy and the conduct of international relations.  The current U.S. administration has sought to establish the U.S. as a dominant world economic and military power, destabilizing whole regions.   These policies do not address core inequities that currently prevail in the control over and use of world resources.  These core inequities are manifest in the crippling burden of debt of poorer nations and the erratic and devastating effects of globalized markets.

Early in the decade of the 1990’s PsySR revised its mission statement to focus on peacebuilding and social justice.  PsySR has been proactive in working with many alliances of organizations devoted to peace and social justice.  As members of the profession of psychology, we are aware of the interconnection between the inequities in societies and the prevalence of violent conflict, both of which limit development of the human potential.  Consequently, we must continue to use our expertise for focusing analysis, establishing priorities and developing position statements and briefing reports that will provide informed psychological knowledge for use within the profession and by the general public.
Because PsySR’s mission is broad—“Using Psychological Knowledge to Promote Peace and Social Justice”—we give some examples here from several domains.  
• We have seen increased interest and concern from our members for a full-functioning and effective United Nations and recognition of the need for the organization as a vehicle of support for a culture of peace.
• PsySR has been a visible presence in the largest global peace mobilization of the decade.
• We have seen progress in the strengthening of peace studies throughout secondary and higher education.
• We recognize the significance of the eagerness of the present generation to recognize that the U.S. must share power and seek nonviolent ways to resolve domestic and international conflicts.
• We are optimistic about our ability to use the communicative power of the internet to represent the psychological dimensions of an alternate view of the future and destiny of the U.S. in its world leadership role.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?


Although no consensus has been developed, the prevailing view of our members, activists within the psychological profession, is that there are many obstacles to progress in the evolution of an international culture of peace.

1.  A major obstacle is that the U.S. has chosen pre-emptive military action as a means of securing national defense, and perhaps more broadly, national interest.

2.  Policies and programs that increase public fear of unknown enemies are another important obstacle. These allow exploitation of fears by politicians and the media which in turn can result in limitations of citizen rights.   An indirect effect is to stifle dissent.

3.  National policies that diminish the role of diplomacy and redefine the U.S. role in
international organizations by decreasing U.S. collaboration with and leadership in multilateral institutions are an important obstacle.

4.  Political leadership that has altered previous assumptions that global problems require global solutions has effectively narrowed and blocked avenues of cooperation.

5.  Policies that emphasize military and security needs while neglecting basic human needs drain resources, increase tensions, and create still more deprivation for those who are most disadvantaged..

6.  Abandonment of ethical principles which apply to combatants in military operations weakens an accepted code of conduct and undermines the safety of our military by undermining such agreements as the Geneva Convention..

7. The effect of the shift in national priorities has been to diminish  domestic priorities, which has negative consequences for the health and well being of the citizenry: decreased accessibility to health care, including mental health resources and weakening of the safety net for those who are in less prestigious and poorly paid occupations; competition for state and community resources between groups in need, neglect of youth programs and youth and adult literacy for entry to the current work force.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?


The promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence by Psychologists for Social Responsibility takes place through the operation of the Central Office in Washington, DC, its coordinating functions with the National Steering Committee, Operations Committee and Advisory Board, and through the Action Committees.


The Action Committees of PsySR provide a focus for a specific issue and is the main site for specific projects furthering the mission of PsySR.  Emerging issues are referred to appropriate Action Committees for analysis and recommendations for action.  The business of action committees is carried out through personal contact in networking, meetings, and internet communication. The Action Committees offer project sharing and opportunities for members to participate in varied ways in informing the public and the social science/mental health community about ongoing activities and possibilities for furthering the creation of a Culture of Peace.  Below are some examples of issues being addressed by the Action Committees, with the major domain for a culture of peace to which they relate noted in parentheses.

Conflict Resolution

In 2004, the Conflict Resolution Action Committee revised the Enemy Images Resource Manual.  It is now focused on the main enmification (exaggerated and distorted views of the enemy) in our world currently, US Imperialism vs. Islamist Exremism.  The Manual and Enemy Images power point presentation published on PsySR’s website are resources for peace psychology courses and programs which seek to reduce prejudice and increase empathy.  (Understanding, tolerance and solidarity)

Nonviolent Social Change

Recent efforts of this Action Committee have included obtaining grants for education in reduction of violence in social change.  One of the Co-Chairs has sponsored an interactive program through a grant that implements activities to prevent and reduce violence among middle school children in settling disputes.  The Action Committee is also providing  short exercises and research protocols on nonviolent conflict resolution that can be used in various settings as bases for group discussions and research assignments.  (Education for a culture of peace)

Global Violence and Security
The most recent focus of this Action Committee has been on psychological factors related to nuclear weapons, and providing a psychological dimension for the positions taken by other organizations.  The Action Committee has begun a library on the psychological issues in global security with the goal of making a more effective contribution of psychology to disarmament.  (International peace and security)
Peace Education
The Action Committee developed a brochure for members to use in promoting conflict resolution education and violence prevention programs in the schools at grades K-12.  Members also undertake in various ways to improve instruction about war and peace issues at the college level.   They propose peace education programs for meetings of the profession and provide support for innovation.  (Education for a culture of peace)
Poverty and Discrimination
Recent activities include a joint project between a student PsySR chapter at the University of the District of Columbia and the Portland Oregon Counselors for Social justice to develop and disseminate a brochure on the psychological effects of poverty and discrimination against people of color in nations around the world.  (Human rights)

Status of Women
Members of this Action Committee have taken leadership in fostering links to other organized groups of women within the profession.  They have also undertaken scholarly publications on the status of women and have challenged prevailing views of the role of women in the profession. A major international conference focused on the topic, “Rethinking Gender, War, and Peace: Feminist Perspectives.”  (Equality of women and men)
Environmental Protection and Justice
This Action Committee focuses on the intersection between environmental problems, peace, conflict, and social justice.  Members have developed joint websites with major environmental groups and have maintained a focus on sustainable growth and healthy communities.   Focus is on steps psychologists can take to build a more sustainable and peaceful world.  (Sustainable development)

Trauma, Resilience and Social Reintegration
The Action Committee has sponsored important joint conferences on communities affected by Ethnopolitical conflict.   A variety of perspectives on resources for social reintegration is encouraged and shared among members and collaborators. (Democratic participation)
Universal Health Care
This Action Committee has devoted energy to developing and distributing a statement for the profession (to be distributed to the media) regarding the importance of universal health care for a healthy community and nation.  (Human rights)

International Peace Practitioners Network
One of the ways in which PsySR promotes a Culture of Peace is to recognize, utilize and promote the knowledge of internationally known  experts on resolution of conflicts within and between national and global organizations.
PsySR has established a joint project with the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence (Peace Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association) to initiate and maintain a database of experts in international psychology that would help provide needed expertise in areas of trouble.  The International Peace Practitioners Network Action Committee ensures exchange of information between experts and provides opportunities to discuss issues of mutual concern.  These experts also constitute a professional resource to PsySR’s Operations and Steering committees to promote proactive approaches to creation of peaceful communities.  (Free flow of information)


PsySR is promoting formation of student chapters on college campuses.  Three have a formal organization and others are in formation.
PsySR provides leadership in the discussion of psychological
perspectives on the use of military force and ways to avert a reactive culture of war.  The purpose of spokespersons for PsySR taking the public limelight is to feature a counterbalance to policies of groups and nations which propose violent solutions to conflicts which may have
other possibilities of resolution.

The Distinguished Lifetime Contribution/Achievement/Service Award is given to those individuals whose work over their life span has contributed to the mission of PsySR and increased the social responsibility of the profession.  A group Award, Distinguished Contribution to Building Cultures of Peace, has been given to organizations that effectively transform cultures of violence into cultures of peace by promoting values such as respect for human rights, gender equality, nonviolence, reconciliation, tolerance and solidarity, and sustainable development.
The Joel R. Seldin Peace Award is given yearly for journalism that effectively addresses issues of war, peace and social justice.
The Psychological Dimensions of Peacework Award has been awarded to practitioners who are effective in mediation and conflict resolution.
PsySR has supported the Culture of Peace News Network to disseminate timely information about the developments within the national media which support a Global Movement for the Culture of Peace.  In this way, members are informed about current and planned activities which promise to strengthen the Culture of Peace.

Action Committee resources are made available for public dissemination through press releases and letters to the editor issued from the media access center at www.psysr.org.

The PsySR Newsletter keeps membership informed of the current focus and activities of the organization and its leadership, including information about chapter activities, student activities, Action Committee projects, and awards.  It also provides an open forum for opinion and sharing of
resources for timely issues.
The Media Access Center at the PsySR internet website is a recent innovation.  The Center provides easy access to both local media and national media, aiding members to write their own letters to the Editor, op-ed articles or commentary using PsySR talking points.
A well attended conference on Social Responsibility in the 21st Century was held in Spring of 2003.  Another conference, Integrating Approaches to Humanitarian Assistance was held in September of 2003, and is one of
a series of conferences on ways to improve peaceful effects of humanitarian assistance, especially in times of ethnopolitical conflict.

A major conference on Rethinking Gender, War and Peace in 2003 considered ways in which peace psychology could be more inclusive of  gender roles and consider possibilities for their positive influence on  peacebuilding.   The two and a half day conference provided opportunities for definition of feminist perspectives and consideration of strategies for redefining and rethinking gender, war and peace.

PsySR holds a 3-day conference in conjunction with the American Psychological Association every year, including our Annual Members Forum and Awards ceremony, as well as Conversation hours, committee meetings and networking in our Hospitality Suite.

  Upcoming:  “Beyond Talk:  Tools and Training for Advocacy and Social Action”, May, 2005, in Portland, OR

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

It is imperative that the delegates meeting at the U.N. this month [May 2005] find ways to bring the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty into the 21st Century so that it addresses the realities of the threats we currently face. The 20-year-old treaty has lost much of its capacity for safeguarding us from the spread of nuclear weapons due to the failure of nuclear states like the U.S. to comply with its disarmament provisions. The most important modification required is to link the separate provisions of the Treaty. The prevention of weapons development in nations not having them now must be clearly tied to the systematic elimination of nuclear weapons among the existing nuclear powers. Verification must be universally applied to states that might produce a nuclear weapon and to those that already have them. Without such universal adherence to verification and to elimination of nuclear weapons, we create incentives for weapons development. With extensive stockpiles of nuclear weapons and programs for development of new weapons we face increased likelihood of their use. This could come from nuclear powers intent upon finding battlefield uses for them, from nations seeking to obtain such weapons in the hope of deterring threats by nuclear powers, or from militant groups seeking a more destructive arsenal of weapons and finding the large number of existing programs and weapons to be a source of illicit procurement. Any one of these activities adds to the likelihood of others and threatens the most dangerous arms race ever known. Conversely, commitment by any party to its own renunciation of nuclear weapons development or use, and willingness to abide by verification measures, will increase the incentives of others to do the same. The Treaty now needs provisions indicating that major reductions in these weapons and controls precluding the development of new ones will apply to all nation states.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

Abolition Caucus, Win Without War, United for Peace and Justice, Community Coalition for Justice and Peace (Washington DC), PsyACT (Psychologists Acting in Conscience Together), Integrity in Science

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

Postal address of organization

208 I St. NE, Suite B, Washington, DC 20002-4340 USA

E-mail address of organization


Website address of organization


Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

International peace and security

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace

Understanding, tolerance, solidarity

Highest priority country of action (or international)


Second priority country of action (or international)

United States
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Organization: Psychologists for Social Responsibility

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