Human Rights and Social Work: Towards Rights-Based Practice

Human Rights and Social Work: Towards Rights-Based Practice
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Indeed, it developed from a top-down perspective, where governments gave rights to the individuals over whom they governed.

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This is why the declaration focuses mostly on civil and political rights, such as the rights to vote, to a fair trial, freedom of speech and so on. This social work rights framework must focus on the four key international themes developed at the Joint World Conference on Social Work , when 3, practitioners from across the globe gathered to set an agenda to guide the future of the profession. As a profession that focuses on the whole person, social workers have taken action on this right.

For example, in the Netherlands social workers have redesigned social services to enable a more holistic approach to wellbeing. This includes rebuilding social structures to address issues such as depression and isolation, and creating health and wellbeing plans not just for the individual, but for the whole community. Research consistently shows that when people are able to make decisions over their own lives they are happier, healthier and live longer.

Towards a critical human rights-based approach to social work practice - RMIT Research Repository

Some of the most profound developments in human rights arose from mass participation in democratic structures and non-violent protest. Social work identifies the right of people to shape their environment. They say transforming the global tax system to ensure that multinationals and offshore governments pay their taxes in Africa rather than putting it in tax havens would raise more money than all of the aid that Africa currently receives. A simple demand, where people want their economic and social rights based on fair systems in global practice.

Social workers have been consistent advocates for the active involvement of individuals in shaping their future wellbeing. The International Federation of Social Workers recently formally recognised the importance of the rights of nature and identified the role of social workers in creating sustainable communities and environments.

In many parts of Latin America and Asia-Pacific, social workers have advocated that land, water and air be given rights as if they were people, so they will not be exploited, but instead be able to thrive for generations to come. Social work aims to preserve and enhance social relationships, because we understand intrinsically that the interdependence of people is a core requirement for achieving quality of life. Sadly, however, in the social legislation of some countries, rights only focus on the child, while the family and community are not usually considered.

This, all too often, results in children being removed from their birth parents, rather than the more humane and economically-viable approach of providing the original family with the support, resources and education needed to secure the rights of the family relationships. We must continue to challenge such practices. Human rights will always be at the core of social work. If successful, TRCs can strengthen civil society, social functioning, and the provision and delivery of social services. TRCs promote pluralism and tolerance of diversity.

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In their use of local cultural strengths they evoke cultural competence. TRCs are about giving victims a voice to transform society. This promotes participation and self-determination, key aspects of rights-based practice. TRCs promote social justice through the protection of human rights in the wake of oppression, and discrimination.

TRCs encourage the participation of victims in the democratic process. TRCs use many macro social work practice skills Androff, in press. Truth-seeking functions as a community needs assessment.

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TRCs identify community strengths throughout their investigations, and final reports contain assessments of community assets. Many TRCs result from political compromise between opposing groups; the resolution of violent conflict requires bargaining and negotiation skills. Implementing TRCs, from selecting commissioners to planning public forums requires community organizing skills. To ensure community engagement, and attendance at events, macro practice skills such as outreach and recruitment are necessary.

Reconciling formerly antagonistic groups throughout the TRC process involves facilitating meaningful dialogue. TRCs also involve micro practice skills Androff, c. To foster consensus, micro skills such as empathy, trust-building, and engagement are necessary to build relationships between divided people with histories of mistrust and abuse.

School of Social Work

This entails giving, respecting, and listening to the voice of victims. TRCs place individual voices in their cultural and political context. Many risk retraumatization during retellings of their stories; therefore skills working with victims, preparing them for risks, and attending to traumatic symptom are important.

When participants require treatment, micro practitioners may provide services or make referrals.

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They may also assist with bereavement, grief and helping people find closure. Micro practitioners can facilitate interpersonal reconciliation through restorative dialogue and, if possible, forgiveness processes. The micro practice skills of empathetic listening, validating, acceptance, nonjudgment, and the therapeutic use of self are invaluable to TRCs success. Rights-based approaches recontextualize individuals within their social environments and can refocus U. We have highlighted two examples—Narrative Exposure Therapy and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions—as a template for human rights-based social work practice.

As new models of rights-based social work practice emerge, we must examine other social work modalities to adapt and recast them as human rights practices. Students must be able to understand themselves and their clients as rights-holders Reichert, The teaching of assessment should be broadened to include human rights violations including violations of economic and social rights Staub-Bernasconi, Social work researchers must evaluate human rights approaches.

Published evaluations of human rights practice in social work are few, and little can be asserted about the utility of rights-based practice. Research should investigate human rights protections, violations, practices, and institutions. A case study of a grassroots Truth and Reconciliation Commission from a community practice perspective. Journal of Social Work. Androff, D. Adaptations of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in the North American context: Local examples of a global restorative justice intervention.

Advances in Social Work, 13 2 , Can civil society reclaim the truth?

Results from a community-based Truth and Reconciliation Commission. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 6 2 , Narrative healing among victims of violence: The impact of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Families in Society, 93 1 , The problem of contemporary slavery: An international human rights challenge for social work. International Social Work, 54 2 , Truth and Reconciliation Commissions TRCs : An international human rights intervention and its connection to social work. British Journal of Social Work, 40 6 , Contemporary Justice Review, 13 3 , Austin, M, Coombs, M. Community-centered clinical practice: Is the integration of micro and macro social work practice possible?


Journal of Community Practice, 13 4 , Barrett, J. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 3, Bichescu, D. Narrative exposure therapy for political imprisonment-related chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

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Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45, Bisson, J. Psychological treatment of post- traumatic stress disorder PTSD.

Cochrane Database of Systema- tic Reviews, 18, Art. Ethics and Social Welfare, 2, The testimony of political repression as therapeutic instrument. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 53, Dominelli, L. Human rights in social work practice: An invisible part of the social work curriculum? Reichert Ed. Engstrom, D.

Human Rights Social Work 2015

A plague of our time: Torture, human rights, and social work. Families in Society, 85, Reconstructing safety: Adjustments to the therapeutic frame in the treatment of survivors of political torture. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 32, — Flexner, A. Is social work a profession? Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction 42, Psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder.