On December 10 the world will celebrate Human Rights Day. Every year, Human Rights Day marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. This year the day recognizes the work of human rights defenders worldwide who act to end discrimination.
The Role of Social Workers
Social work is fundamentally a human rights profession. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified, human rights concerns had been the bedrock of the social work profession in the United States for more than 50 years. Discrimination and social exclusion based on racial and religious intolerance; gender inequality and violence; denial of the rights of women and children, refugees and older people – all are social justice issues that long have concerned social work (NASW 2009).
The International Federation of Social Workers includes human rights in their definition of social work: “The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work” (IFSW 2000).
- Read more about Human Rights Day and human rights and social work
- Take a look at NASW’s Policy Statement on Human Rights and the International Federation of Social Work Policy Statement on Human Rights
- Spend some time browsing the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights webpage
- Go to a listing of human rights instruments that social workers may encounter in their work
National Association of Social Workers (2009). International Policy on Human Rights. Social Work Speaks, National Association of Social Workers Policy Statements, 2009-2012 (8th ed., pp 202-207). Washington, DC: NASW Press.
International Federation of Social Workers (2000). Definition of Social Work. Retrieved from http://www.ifsw.org/f38000138.html