Collective Expert Academic Response to attempts to undermine the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls report dated 13 April 2023 titled Custody, violence against women and violence against children

To:                    United Nations Human Rights Council

From:                International Expert Academic Consortium

RE:                   Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls, Custody, violence against women and violence against children, to be presented at the 53rd Session of the Human Rights Council

 Date:                June 16, 2023


Collective Expert Academic Response to attempts to undermine the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls report dated 13 April 2023 titled Custody, violence against women and violence against children. 

The undersigned law, mental health and child well-being professionals, family violence experts, and academic professors have become aware of a petition that is being circulated by parental alienation advocates to try to undermine and/or prevent the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls from presenting her report dated 13 April 2023 titled Custody, violence against women and violence against children to the Human Rights Council. In her report, the Special Rapporteur draws attention to problems associated with scientific validity and reliability of parental alienation concepts as well as to serious international concerns about the negative effects of parental alienation concepts on the human rights of women and children in cases involving domestic and family violence.1

In support of their claim of scientific validity, parental alienation advocates point to lists of publications. A close read of the research, however, reveals, among other things, that any cited research studies are not longitudinal research studies of children, lack control groups, self- selected populations, and are mostly retroactive, self-diagnostic reflections of adults and/or opinion surveys.

The Special Rapporteur is being accused by these groups of presenting misleading information.

It is important to understand that the Petition against the Special Rapporteur is merely another example of efforts to undermine and silence anyone who questions the scientific legitimacy of parental alienation concepts and/or who has documented the negative human rights effects of use of the concept in the legal system. Quotations from academic and professional authors are presented by parental alienation advocates out of context or are misinterpreted. Qualifications in published statements are ignored, personal accusations are made, and attempts are made to undermine professional and academic reputations. We have received reports from a number of countries of attempts by alienation proponents to pressure academic institutions into disciplining and/or firing faculty members who question or critique parental alienation concepts. This is not behavior that one normally associates with credible research or with reasoned academic debate; it is behavior indicative of harassment campaigns aimed at suppressing and penalizing dissent.

The accusation by PASG/GARI-PA and other parental alienation proponents that the Special Rapporteur is presenting ‘misleading information’ is part of a pattern of making the same claim against anyone who criticizes alienation concepts. Just a few illustrations of these ubiquitous claims include:


  • Alehandro Mendoza Amaro and William Bernet (2020) Statement of the Global Action for Research Integrity in Parental Alienation (Research Gate Net) on line.




  • Adherents of parental alienation theory also tried, unsuccessfully, to exert pressure on Routledge, the publisher of Jean Mercer and Margaret Drew (Eds. 2021) excellent book Challenging Parental Alienation: New Direction for Professionals and Parents (Routledge) to withdraw public circulation of the book – also on the basis of alleged ‘misinformation.’ When the pressure on the publisher was unsuccessful,2 parental alienation advocates self-published a public report online titled A Comprehensive Review of Misinformation and Other Inaccuracies in Challenging Parental Alienation: New Direction for Professionals and Parents online.3 Many authors who published chapters in the Mercer and Drew book are reporting academic and professional harassment by alienation advocates.


The independence of the special mandate holders is critical and is a prerequisite to their operation. The parental alienation lobby’s efforts to prevent this Report from being presented undermines this crucial independence. There is no precedent for their demand, and accepting it would hamper the whole mechanism of the OHCHR special mandate holders.


We, the undersigned, endorse the credibility of the Special Rapporteur’s Report and oppose attempts to prevent the presentation of the Report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.



  • Similar concerns were raised in 2019 in a Collective Memo of Concern to the World Health Organization, endorsed by 352 concerned family law academics, family violence experts, family violence research institutes, child development and child abuse experts, children’s rights associations from 36 countries: Linda C Neilson with Joan Meier, Elizabeth Sheehy, Margaret Jackson, Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Susan Boyd, Peter Jaffe, Simon Lapierre (2019) Collective Memo of Concern to: World Health Organization (London, Ontario: on line). Scroll to the end of the document for the names and institutional affiliations of those who endorsed the memo.


  • For an illustration of other attempts to silence, refer to Retraction Watch, “Guest Post: What happened when we tried to get a book with misinformation about our field retracted” on line . Please note the unfavorable comments following the Jennifer Harman


  • Originally the self-published report alleging “misinformation” was credited to authors (Rabbi Aichenbaum, William Bernet, Bjorn Cedervall, Jennifer Harman, Alejandro Mendoza-Amaro & Alissa Sherry). That version was subsequently withdrawn in favor of self-publishing the same report credited to the Parental Alienation Study Group and Global Action for Research Integrity in Parental In the second version, the original authors are listed as contributors. 


Name, Title/Credential



Mindy Mechanic



Simon Lapierre

University of Ottawa


Rachel Grey, PhD Can

Brunel University London


Gwénola Sueur

PhD Student of sociology – Western Brittany University – Brest


Dr Elizabeth Dalgarno, Lecturer in Health Care Sciences


University of Manchester, SHERA Research Group


Pierre-Guillaume Prigent, PhD in sociology


University of Western Brittany



Claudia Galiberne Ferreira

Summum Iuris


Dr Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson,

Everday Disasters and Violence Research Group Lead and Senior Researcher in Intersectionality and Policy, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR), University College London (UCL)

United Kingdom

Dr Joyanna Silberg, PH. D.

Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence


Kathryn Spearman, MSN, RN, PhD candidate

Johns Hopkins School of Nursing


Brenda Kilgour

Psychotherapist working with survivors of abuse [retired]

United Kingdom

Dr Jean Mercer, PhD

Stockton University


Jennifer Koshan

Faculty of Law, University of Calgary


Eileen F. King

Child Justice, Inc.

United States

Associate Professor Margaret Drew

University of Massachusetts School of Law

United States

Paola Motosi

Coletivo de Protecao a Infancia Voz Materna


Zoe Rathus

Griffith University Law School



Dr Adrienne Barnett

Brunel University London

United Kingdom

Michela Nacca

Attorney of the supreme courts of the state Vatican city and the Holy See lawyer of the Italian Bar President of the non-profit association “Maison Antigone”


Professor Elspeth McInnes PhD

University of South Australia


Elizabeth Sheehy

University of Ottawa


Deborah Mackenzie

The Backbone Collective

New Zealand

Dr. Debbie Hager

School of Population Health, University of Auckland

New Zealand

Associate Professor Carrie Leonetti

University of Auckland School of Law

New Zealand

Neville Robertson PhD

University of Waikato

New Zealand

Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari

The Rackman Center, Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law


Dr Emma Katz

Durham University

United Kingdom

Prof. Daphna Hacker

Tel Aviv University



Cafra tt

Trinidad and Tobago

Saviona Rotlevy

Judicial system


Dr. Linda C Neilson, Professor Emerita, Research Associate of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research

University of New Brunswick


Marianne Mikko

Women’s Organisation Kadri


Fully support the SRVAW

CEDAW member


Dr Julie Doughty

Cardiff University, School of Law and Politics


Simona D’Aquilio – family lawyer

Member of “Progetto Donna”, commission within Rome bar association


Réseau International des Mères en Lutte



Danielle Pollack, Policy Manager

National Family Violence Law Center at GW Law


Suzanne Chester, Esq. Child’s Attorney, Project Director

The Child’s Advocate

United States

Lisa Fischel-Wolovick, JD, MSW

City University of NY at John Jay College, Adj. Assoc. Professor


Joan S. Meier, Esq

National Family Violence Law Center Professor of Clinical Law and Director, National Family Violence Law Center


Paul Griffin, Legal Director

Child Justice, Inc.



Steven Hupp, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville


Sarah Trane, Ph.D., ABPP

Mayo Clinic Health System


Dr. Kathleen Coulborn Faller

Marion Elizabeth Blue Professor Emerita of Children and Families, School of Social Work, University of Michigan

United States

Stephanie Brandt MD

Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr Alison J. Towns PhD DipClinPsy LMNZPsS APA Registered Psychologist

Mt Albert Psychological Services Ltd

New Zealand

Nancy Erikson, Esq

Author and former Professor of Law


Dr. James T. Richardson, J.D., Ph.D.

Emeritus Foundation Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies, University of Nevada



Dr. Robert Geffner, Ph.D., ABPP, ABN

Founding President of the Institute on Violence, Abuse & Trauma (IVAT), Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology, Alliant International University, San Diego, CA, and Co-Founder/Past President, Trauma Psychology Division, American Psychological Association


Dr Elizabeth Dalgarno

Lecturer in Health Care Sciences, University of Manchester,

Chair and Founder of SHERA Research Group














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