Social Work

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Social Work in Context of Human Rights Profession

Marc Schoendorf

University of Connecticut

Table of Contents

What is Social Work?1

What are Human Rights?1

Is Social Work a Human Rights Profession?1

Harmful Effects of Global Social Inequality3

How Social Workers Advocate Structural Change4

Steps of Social Work Practice5

Identify the Inequitable Socio-Economic Structures5

Analyze the Social Control Function6

Analyze Social Relations and Arrangements7

Provide Liberty to Individuals and Institutions7

Empowering Clients7

Policies that Sustain Social Workers8



Social Work in Context of Human Rights Profession

What is Social Work?

Social work is an academic discipline and profession which aims to solve human problems, troubles and difficulties for the overall well-being of society. Social workers attempt to improve human relationships and empower people with the help of theories of the social system and human behavior. Therefore, principles of social justice and human rights play a significant role in social work. Social work is a human rights profession.

What are Human Rights?

Human rights are the three generation rights, which belong to every individual, irrespective of his cast, color, creed, religion, ethnicity and nationality. Human rights; as a profession, guards the following rights of individuals.

1.First generation rights: civil and political rights.

2.Second generation rights: social, cultural and human rights.

3.Third generation rights: rights that require the co-operation of people around the globe, for instance, right to peace, clean environment, healthy food, shelter, fair trade and education etc (OHCHR, 2011).

Is Social Work a Human Rights Profession?

In 1998, International Federation of Social Workers had declared that social work was, is and will always be a human rights profession. However, unfortunately, social work did not get much attention in the broader context of a human right profession (Healy, 2008). Despite widespread acceptance of formal laws and international standards for human rights, effective access to these rights is limited in all parts of the world. A large part of humanity has rights in theory but not in practice. In Africa, more than six decades of failure of governments in human rights have been further aggravated by the global economic crisis that has brought to the fore the problems of poverty and inequality, in the words of Secretary General of Amnesty International. "It's not just about economy ... It is a human rights crisis: the world is sitting on a time bomb socially, politically and economically," said Irene Khan, in presenting the organization's annual report on the status of the human rights in the world.

Human rights, as a social work practice, aims to promote equitable social structures and offer people security, which upholds their dignity. In other words, the human rights profession aims to protect the three generation rights in the inequitable social structures. Whenever, the rights of individuals, groups or organizations are violated due to unfair laws, practices and regulations, human rights organizations fight for those rights so that social equality can be observed in the society. In 2005, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right (OHCHR) had four country offices and three regional offices in Africa, and provided support to nine human rights components of the Direct Aid Program (DAP) operations and Department of Peacekeeping Operations ...
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