Human rights and the trauma model: Genuine partners or uneasy allies?

Authors

  • Zachary Steel,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Population Mental Health Research and Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Australia
    • Centre for Population Mental Health Research, Level 1, Mental Health Centre, The Liverpool Hospital, Forbes and Campbell Streets, Liverpool NSW 2170, Australia
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  • Catherine R. Bateman Steel,

    1. Centre for Population Mental Health Research and Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales and School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia
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  • Derrick Silove

    1. Centre for Population Mental Health Research and Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Australia
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Abstract

Since World War II, a comprehensive body of international law has developed to protect and promote human rights. Three generations of rights can be delineated: civil and political; economic, social and cultural; and collective rights. The convergence of a medical rights-based campaign in the late 1970s with the emergence of the new trauma model resulted in mental health professionals playing a prominent role in documenting and protecting civil and political rights. Economic, social, and cultural rights also emerged as being pivotal, particularly in the Australian context as mental health professionals began to work with excluded populations such as asylum seekers. Consideration of third-generation rights raises important questions about the responsibilities facing mental health professionals applying the trauma model to non-Western settings.

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