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The International Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR)

The International Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR) is an association for health workers engaged in work with persons and communities affected by human rights violations. Our aim is to gather knowledge about the effects of human rights violations on health, exchange experiences and information about treatment methods, psychosocial and psychological care, and contribute to the development of psychosocial interventions both on individual and community level.

ISHHR functions as a supporting association to regional grassroots organizations and has members in approximately 50 countries worldwide. The human rights issue is a very important one for health workers, and as public health professionals we deal with this in many different ways. We live in a world where these rights are being violated and abused every single day, and where health workers and human rights defenders face enormous challenges in their work to address the consequences of these acts on the health of individuals and communities. ISHHR’s plays an active role in helping to address these challenges by strengthening the communication between professionals in this area, by promoting the exchange of ideas, knowledge, skills and expertise, and by emphasizing the need for an active defense of human rights.

By becoming a member of ISHHR one becomes of a world wide network of people working in the field of human rights and health, with the option of closer contact with others and their experiences both within the region in which you are working and across regions.

Activities of ISHHR

The World Health Organization has defined health as a ‘’state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’’ At the individual level, early recognition and adequate care of health problems caused by human rights violations may help prevent subsequent health problems. At the community level, psychosocial intervention may strengthen the coping abilities and resilience of those affected by human rights violations. On this basis, ISHHR seeks to:

1. Capacity building of professionals working in the field of health and human rights through organizing regular international conferences and professional development workshops. ISHHR has successfully organized eight International Conferences: France (1987), Costa Rica(1989),Chile(1991), The Philippines (1994), South Africa(1998), Croatia(2001),India(2005), Peru (2008) and recently Georgia (2011).

For detailed information on previous events click here.

2. Make information in the form of lectures and texts on health and human rights more accessible available to our members and the general public through our website.

3. Maintain and establish contacts between relevant national and international organizations to promote the accessibility of health care and human rights of persons suffering from violations of human rights. ISHHR has signed letters of cooperation with The Reference centre for Psychological Support, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the World Health Organization (WHO).

4. Support like minded organizations in monitoring and campaigning for adherence to international legal instruments.

5. Support health workers involved in the care of persons whose human rights have been violated. 

Current Council members have been elected during the AGM in October 2008 in Peru. Each continent is represented in the council and the diversity of council members represents the international solidarity against human rights violations.


Jorge Aroche (Secretary General)  STARTTS, Australia


Dean Ajdukovic  Society for Psychological Assistance, Croatia


Vijay Shah Indu Health Research Foundation, India


Amber Elizabeth Gray  Restorative Resources Training & Consulting, USA


Nimisha Patel  The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, UK


Rosa Lia Chauca  Red Para la Infancia y la Familia, Perú


HANDE KARAKILIC  Psychiatric Association of Turkey, Turkey


PATRICK O’LOUGHLIN  Western Norway Violence and Trauma Resource Centre, Norway


NINO makhashvili  Global Initiative on Psychiatry, Georgia


Jose vera Gomez  ATYHA Mental Health and Human Rights, Paraguay


Sukoluhle hove  Zimbabwe


mariano coello  STARTTS, Australia


LOES VAN WILLIGEN(Honorary President)     Refugee Health Care Consultancy, The Netherlands