Human Rights Day – December 10, 2009

Embrace diversity. End discrimination.


On December 10 the world celebrates 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 theme is focused on non-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. Utilizing theories of human behavior 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.”

Take Action


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 Work web page, retrieved December 2009;

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