Call for input to a report: Psychosocial dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment

21 June 2020, submissions now online on this page
Issued by:
Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
To inform the Special Rapporteur’s annual interim report to be presented to the General Assembly at its 75th Session in October 2020


Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 74/143, the Special Rapporteur is mandated to submit an annual interim report to the third committee.

Objectives of the report on Psychosocial Dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment

The report aims to explore some of the predominant psychosocial dynamics which, in practice, tend to undermine, circumvent or even paralyse institutional checks and balances, thereby creating environments of unchecked power conducive not only to corruption but also to torture and ill-treatment. The larger purpose of the report is to show that the widespread practice of torture and ill-treatment, as well as societal acquiescence or support for such abuse, are deeply rooted in collective psychosocial behavioural patterns, which either remain largely unconscious to the human mind, or are based on fundamentally flawed rationalizations and severely distorted perceptions of reality. Relevant phenomena include patterns such as ‘system justification’, ‘wilful ignorance’, ‘bystander apathy’, ‘diffusion of responsibility’, ‘obedience’, ‘utilitarian moral disengagement’ and ‘group based moral disengagement’.

Key questions and types of input sought

The upcoming report aims to demonstrate that torture and other forms of ill-treatment cannot be effectively eradicated in any governance system failing to fully acknowledge and rigorously mitigate the corrosive effect of such psychosocial dynamics through normative, institutional and policy measures ensuring full transparency and strict accountability for all exercise of governmental power. With a view to ensuring the broadest possible consultations despite the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, the Special Rapporteur invites electronic submissions from States, civil society, experts and other stakeholders, both on the relevant psychosocial dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment and on recommended normative, institutional and policy measures of prevention and mitigation.

Inputs received

Member States


NGOs and Civil Society Organizations