The 2018 IFSW General Meeting recorded the highest level of participation with 70 countries registered to vote. IFSW Secretary General Dr Rory Truell said:
“It was a very historic event for the social work profession with such a large number of country representatives overcoming challenges to be able to participate in the General Meeting. There were many strategic agenda items and members actively wanted to have their voice and involvement in shaping the profession’s future and the social work contributions to social justice and social development”.
IFSW membership comprises country-level representatives with one vote per country. The General Meeting takes place every two years and for many members there are financial and other obstacles that hinder their participation. In recent years IFSW membership has grown rapidly as the profession has expanded particular in Africa, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe. IFSW currently comprises of 128 national associations or unions of social work.
The 2018 IFSW General Meeting Outcomes
As part of the agenda, IFSW General Meeting responded to challenging agenda items, including the censure of the Israeli Union of social workers, closing the gaps between social work education and practice and revising the profession’s ethics.
The General meeting upheld the executive committees censure of the Israeli Union of social workers. The IFSW executive has earlier identified concerns that its Israeli member had not been able to abide the Federation’s policies and procedures in acting on a human rights perspective in relation to the Israeli Government’s occupation of Palestine. After lengthy discussion which included the leadership of the Israeli Union, motions were passed that reinforced the censure and also encouraged ongoing dialog and support that would enable the censure to be lifted.
The General Meeting also ratified an Interim Education Commission to engage and work with social work education partners to build a stronger framework at national, regional and global levels that supports cooperation between national associations of social work and educational bodies. The General Meeting also ratified a new statement of ethical principles that had been jointly developed with the International Association of Schools of Social Work.
In addition, elections were held for positions on the IFSW Executive. Following the elections, the successful nominees were announced:
- Silvana Martinez from Argentina as the President,
- Victor Ivan Garcia-Toro from Puerto Rico as Treasurer,
- Ana Radulescu from Romania as Vice President in Europe,
- Rose Henderson from New Zealand as the Regional President of Asia-Pacific,
- Joachim Mumba from Zambia as Regional Vice President of Africa,
- Larry Alicea as President Latin America and Caribbean Region,
- Tania Maria Ramos from Brazil as Vice President Latin America and Caribbean Region,
- Jan Christianson-Wood from Canada as President North American Region, and
- Kathy Wehrmann from USA as Vice President North American Region.
They join the executive members that were previously elected in 2016. The IFSW executive roles are held for four year terms and the elections for various positions are staggered to provide a level of continuity in the executive team.
The outgoing members of the executive were thanked for their hard work and dedication during a very successful part of IFSW’s history. Outgoing President Ruth Stark received a standing ovation for her contributions in leading IFSW between 2014 and 2018.
During the General Meeting five awards were issued in recognition of outstanding contributions to the social work profession:
David Jones from the UK was honoured for his contributions and leadership to the Global Agenda of Social Work and Social Development. Mariko Kimura for her leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, Angela Fielding for contributions to social work in Australia, The Costa Rica Association of Social Workers for their contributions to social work globally and Munther Amira for his leadership in promoting social work non-violent resistance.
Secretary-General Dr Truell said, “This General Meeting presented challenging agenda items and I am delighted that we were able to work through them in an open and fully democratic way. It is a testament to the social work profession that representatives from all over the world with different languages, cultures and expectations are able work constructively together in finding solutions and formulating plans to strengthen social work and its contribution to human rights, social justice and the quality of life for all people”.