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Teaching and Training for Human Rights Practice: Human Rights Overview IASSW/Kendall Institute Workshop Conference on Social Work & Social Development,

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching and Training for Human Rights Practice: Human Rights Overview IASSW/Kendall Institute Workshop Conference on Social Work & Social Development,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching and Training for Human Rights Practice: Human Rights Overview IASSW/Kendall Institute Workshop Conference on Social Work & Social Development, Stockholm, July 2012 Slides prepared by Lynne Healy & Kathryn Libal, Univ. of Connecticut

2 Social Work & Human Rights Social work has, since its inception, been a human rights profession (IFSW, 1988) Human rights are inseparable from social work theory, values and ethics, and practice…Advocacy of such rights must therefore be an integral part of social work, even if in countries living under authoritarian regimes such advocacy can have serious consequences for social work professionals (UN with IFSW/IASSW, 1994)

3 Global Recognition of Human Rights in Social Work The Global Definition of Social Work includes the phrase: Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work (IFSW/IASSW, 2000). The 2004 ethics document cites the definition and lists seven human rights treaties as particularly relevant to social work.

4 Why Human Rights in Social Work and Social Work Education? Compatibility of basic concepts and principles Human rights offers a unifying framework, relevant to micro and macro social work, and to local and global considerations Human rights is an important concept and language for international dialogue and interdisciplinary work Human rights is a significant theme in UN and other international bodies

5 Human Rights are: A system of international laws and accountability mechanisms A set of globally agreed standards A perspective to guide social work practice, both micro and macro A conceptual framework to guide development of social and economic policy A framework for ethical decision-making in concert with professional ethics

6 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948) All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. –Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

7 Human Rights: Working definition Humans have certain fundamental rights by virtue of being human Grounded in inherent dignity and worth Debate over Which rights should be prioritized Universalism vs. cultural particularism How human rights are to be realized

8 Two Major Dimensions of Human Rights Civil & Political Rights Social, Economic, & Cultural Rights I think it is necessary to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights. Martin Luther King, Jr. -NESRI, 2008

9 Major Human Rights Documents Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

10 Civil and Political Rights Right to life Right to security of person/bodily integrity Freedom from torture or slavery Equality before the law Privacy & to own property Freedom of assembly/association Freedom of expression Freedom of movement Freedom of religion or belief Political participation Self-determination

11 Social, Economic & Cultural Rights Life Housing Food and water Education Health Work Social security/social insurance/social service Family Participate in the life of the community

12 Major Human Rights Documents (cont.) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1969) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against WomenCEDAW (1979) Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)

13 Human Rights Conventions Recognized in Social Work Ethics Document Universal Declaration of Human Rights International Covenant of Civil & Political Rights International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1969) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against WomenCEDAW (1979) Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Indigenous & Tribal Peoples Convention 1951 Refugee Convention

14 UDHR Articles Articles of particular interest to social work: 22, 25, 28

15 UDHR, Article 22 Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

16 UDHR, Article 25.1 Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health & well-being of himself & of his family, including food, clothing, housing & medical care & necessary social services, & the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

17 Article 28 Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized. Link with global social justice: address transnational processes & human rights concerns (e.g., refugees, migrants, access to resources/water, arms control, trade policy, etc.)

18 Core Concepts Human rights are inalienable Indivisible Interdependent Principle of equality (non-discrimination) (Note, however, that social and economic rights can be progressively realized)

19 States, UN, and Non-state Actors RESPECT rights: neither the state nor its agents (police, military, etc.) should violate them directly PROTECT rights: ensure that private actors do not violate them FULFILL rights: create an enabling environment in which rights can be realized

20 Promotion & Enforcement: States Implement treaties: laws, policies & programs Submit reports to monitoring committees Special rapporteurs follow progress & conduct investigations (e.g. Extreme Poverty in US) Consequences for failure to implement: Diplomatic costs Shame in international/national public sphere

21 Human Rights Controversies Are social and economic rights as important as civil and political rights and how can they be measured? (concept of progressive realization) Sovereignty vs. humanitarian intervention Universalism vs. cultural relativism Are human rights western?

22 Emerging Issues in Human Rights Law Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (adopted by the Human Rights Council Sept. 2012) June 2011 Human Rights Council Resolution on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation (23 yes; 19 no 3 abstain) Universal Periodic Review Process Discussions on a potential treaty on older persons

23 For further information: Office of UN High Commission for Human Rights: International Federation of Social Workers for Human Rights Policy: International Assoc. of Schools of Social Work: Human Rights Watch:


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