Guide Human Rights and Social Work

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The fundamental freedoms include the right to liberty, to freedom from slavery, to freedom from arbitrary arrest, torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment, and freedom of thought and speech. Next to life itself, freedom and liberty are the most precious human values asserting the worth of human existence. The fundamental principle of equality is closely linked to principles of justice. Every person regardless of birth, gender, age, disability, race, colour, language, religious or political beliefs, property, sexual orientation, status or social class has a right to equal treatment and protection under the law.

Social workers have to ensure equal access to public services and social welfare provision in accordance with the resources of national and local governments, and have a particular responsibility to combat discrimination of any kind in their own practice. Every person has a right to protection against arbitrary arrest or interference with privacy, and to equal protection under the law.

Where laws have been violated, every person has a right to a prompt and fair trial by an objective judicial authority. Those convicted are entitled to humane treatment whose purpose is to secure the reform and social readaptation of the individual.

Human Rights: Its Meaning and Practice in Social Work Field Settings.

The impartial operation of the law is a crucial safeguard for the citizen in the administration of justice. Social justice, however, requires more than a legal system untainted by interference by the executive. It requires the satisfaction of basic human needs and the equitable distribution of resources. It requires universal access to health care and education, thus enabling the achievement of human potential.

2014 Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture

It underpins concepts of social development. In the pursuit of social justice workers may have to face conflict with powerful elite groups in any given society. Every person whose fundamental freedoms are infringed has a right to support from fellow citizens. The concept of solidarity recognises the fraternity ideal of the French Revolution, and the importance of mutual support. Social workers give expression to this through the Human Rights Commission in relation to social workers whose political freedoms are infringed. In their daily practice they express solidarity with the poor and oppressed.

Poverty, hunger, and homelessness are violations of human rights. Social workers stand with the disadvantaged in campaigning for social justice. Social responsibility is the recognition that each of us has a responsibility to family, to community, to nation and to the world community to contribute personal talents, energy and commitment to the advancement of human rights.

Those with intellectual and physical resources should utilise them to assist those less well equipped. No person or collective body has the right to engage in any activity, including propaganda, to incite war, hostility, hatred, bigotry or violence, contrary to the institution and maintenance of human rights. Peace is more than the absence of organised conflict. It is the goal of achieving harmony with self and with others. Social workers are committed to the pursuit of non-violence. Their experience in conflict resolution teaches that mediation and arbitration are effective instruments to overcome seemingly irreconcilable differences.

Non-violence does not mean passivity in the face of injustice.

Social workers will resist and exercise non-violent pressure for change, but will not engage in acts of violence in the course of their professional activity. Social workers devote its energies to constructive efforts to achieve social justice. Humankind has trusteeship responsibility for the care of the planet.

(PDF) Social Work as a Human Rights Profession | Diane Falk -

Environmental degradation poses a threat to life itself in some areas, and to the quality of life in many countries. False development models based on industrialisation, the unequal distribution of resources, excessive consumerism and ignorance of the pernicious consequences of pollution have all contributed to this global plight.

Social workers need to work with community groups in tackling the consequences of environmental decline and destruction. The International Federation of Social Workers IFSW is a global organisation striving for social justice, human rights and social development through the promotion of social work, best practice models and the facilitation of international cooperation. What is Social Work? History of human rights The history of human rights is that of the struggle against exploitation of one person by another.

Social work principles Human Rights condenses into two words the struggle for dignity and fundamental freedoms which allow the full development of human potential. Social workers serve human development through adherence to the following basic principles: Every human being has a unique value, which justifies moral consideration for that person. Each individual has the right to self-fulfilment to the extent that it does not encroach upon the same right of others, and has an obligation to contribute to the well-being of society. Each society, regardless of its form, should function to provide the maximum benefit for all of its members.

Social workers have a commitment to principles of social justice. Social workers have the responsibility to devote objective and disciplined knowledge and skill to work with individuals, groups, communities, and societies in their development and resolution of personal-societal conflicts and their consequences.

Social workers are expected to provide the best possible assistance without unfair discrimination on the basis of both gender, age, disability, race, colour, language, religious or political beliefs, property, sexual orientation, status or social class. Social workers respect the basic human rights of individuals and groups as expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions derived from that Declaration.

Social workers pay regard to the principles of privacy, confidentiality and responsible use of information in their professional work. Social workers are expected to work with their clients, working for the best interests of the clients but paying due regard to the interests of others involved. Clients are encouraged to participate as much as possible, and should be informed of the risks and likely benefits of proposed courses of action.

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Social workers generally expect clients to take responsibility for determining courses of action affecting their lives. Social workers should minimise the use of legal compulsion. Social workers make ethically justified decisions, and stand by them, paying due regard to The Ethics of Social Work — Principles and Standards adopted by the International Federation of Social Workers.

Role of social workers Social workers deal with common human needs.


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Obie Clayton and June Gary Hopps

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