FEBRUARY 2023 Committee of the Month 

Subcommittee for the United Nations

"Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The IPA ethical code states, "A psychoanalyst must not participate in or facilitate the violation of any individual's basic human rights, as defined by the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and the IPA's own Policy on Non-Discrimination." 

The committee for the United Nations is the oldest IPA committee, created in 1997. Since 1998, the IPA has been an NGO with Special Consultative Status at the U.N.
This entitles the IPA to participate in many activities undertaken by the U.N and its various subsidiary bodies, to attend conferences and other international events, to make presentations on relevant issues with written and oral statements, as well as to organise side events. 

By having our voice heard as psychoanalysts in the U.N System, it is possible to sensitise the international scenario to the importance of the emotional impact, and its psychic consequences on the mental health of those who have their human rights threatened or violated.


The subcommittee for the United Nations, which works under the umbrella of the Humanitarian Organisations committee, has these specific tasks:

  • advocating Psychoanalysis in the U.N system - making the IPA and Psychoanalysis visible, heard, and helpful to a larger section of individuals and society
  • promoting human rights, social awareness, and international issues in the psychoanalytic community - such as conflict prevention and resolution, effects of prejudice, violence, and discrimination, concerns about the environment, pandemics, migrations and wars, and international welfare in general.
  • creating links between our IPA members and IPA committees with other non-governmental organisations and institutions that share its commitment to mental health and psychological well-being.

For example, we are collaborating with the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) that coordinates efforts and sets standards for quality between the agencies of the United Nations (such as IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO) and Red Cross/ Red Crescent/ ICRC and the International NGOs, and within the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, attending the Working Group on  Child Protection Minimum Standards (CPMS) and the Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC) Task Force.

Video presentation 

(Paola Amendoeira and Laura Ravaioli)

Each year in November, a representative attends the Geneva Peace Week. This event underlines that each person, actor, and institution has a role to play in building peace and resolving conflict. Peace promotion occurs in many different contexts, disciplines, and sectors. 

On December 13th 2022, our representative Alexander Kalogerakis attended the interactive meeting and gave a speech at the Consultations Committee with NGOs in consultative status.

We represented the IPA by participating in the United Nations Consultations Committee with NGOs in consultative status with oral speeches or written statements, attending the Commission for Social Development, giving a contribution with Statements, and participating in the Commission on Population and Development with oral speeches. 

Each year at the Commission on the Status of Women, we attend with oral speeches, and statements or organise a parallel event such as this webinar about "Invisible Women: A psycho-economic exploration of domestic and reproductive labour" on March 22nd, 2022, with speakers: Homa Zarghamee, Sargam Mona Jain, chaired by Paola Amendoeira. Our attention was specifically dedicated to women's rights and to aligning ourselves with the commitment to foster the empowerment of women and girls. The encounter between the behavioural and experimental economist Homa Zarghamee and the psychoanalyst Mona Jain broadened the discussion about the impact of unconscious processes on the devaluation and invisibility of women.

We had the opportunity to provide inputs at meetings on the evolving relationship between NGOs and the U.N and to present some contributions from psychoanalytic knowledge of protecting human rights and promoting mental health. In particular, at the International Migration Forum, we discussed the current status of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. We underlined how the physical environments have the possibility of blunting the traumatic impact of displacement on migrants and refugees only when provided together with psychological and psychiatric care.

For the Commission on Population and Development, we suggested considering the importance of maternal function in human development (and expanding its definition to not only the biological mother). At the same time, for the Commission for Social Development, we also discussed the theme of productive employment and decent work for all to overcome inequalities and accelerate the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In January 2023, the IPA was nominated in their report as helpful to the U.N for their Sustainable Development Goals, chosen out of 700 inputs, in particular for what concerns the SDG n.16 "Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions," with the motivation that its psychoanalysts "assess the complex psychological and global implications of war to create a space to facilitate communication among delegates worldwide."


We contributed to the book "Trauma, Flight and Migration. Psychoanalytic Perspectives" Edited by V. Elton, M.Leuzinger Bowleber, G.Schlesinger-Kipp, V.Pender, with a section "Psychoanalysis and the U.N."

Within the IPA
For a year, we have been engaged not only in an in-depth study of the issues involved in prejudices and racism from a psychoanalytic perspective but also advised on how IPA institutes might be encouraged to do the same inside and within institutions, to suggest how to debate on these topics and what actions the IPA could develop. From 2020 to 2021, we participated in the IPA Inter-Committee on Prejudices and Racism Project, constituted at the intersection between the IPA Violence Committee, the IPA Gender and Sexual Diversity Studies Committee, the IPA Committee on Women and Psychoanalysis and the IPA UN sub-Committee. We have the permanence of the studies and actions through the constitution of the Committee for Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism, now with permanent status within the IPA.

Finally, to stand for psychoanalysis in the field of human rights is to defend the importance of access and, therefore, the right to care devices that favour personal development and expand the possibilities for a dignified life with human respect as a fundamental value (Rustin, The Good Society, and the Inner World. Verso, London 1991).

Little by little, over the years, we have been seeking breaches and opportunities to discover and show how psychoanalysis can contribute to the development of strategies and policies for the protection and promotion of mental health as a fundamental human right.
We would very much like to be in contact with all the IPA colleagues that share this commitment and work in the field of human rights. 

Please get in touch with us: 
Laura Ravaioli - [email protected]
Paola Amendoeira - [email protected]