Update on the IFSW Real Rights Campaign
The IFSW Human Rights Commission launched a campaign for Real Rights in June 2013. Whilst the Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in Social Work Day at the UN in March 2013 challenged IFSW to contribute to the work in updating and making a reality of International Human Rights Treaties and Conventions which were launched following the international conflict of World War II. In this report we focus on some of the issues raised by our members
One of the difficulties in enforcing the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that it is not binding on its signatories. However on December 10, 2008, on its 60th anniversary an Optional Protocol for its enforcement was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Optional Protocol was opened for signature and ratification or accession on September 24, 2009 during the UN Treaty Event days. At this annual event, State representatives are encouraged by the UN to sign, ratify or accede to treaties at the UN headquarters in New York. It was necessary for ten States to ratify or accede to the Optional Protocol on the CESCR for it to come into force and this only occurred in February this year when Uruguay signed it. The other signatories are Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mongolia, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.
Ethical regard for the dignity and respect of all people
The Ethical Statement of IFSW and the Codes of Ethics of all our member associations require social workers to have dignity and respect for all people. This requires social workers to work in a non-discriminatory way with everyone with whom we come in contact.
Working with people in the shadows become full participating members of society
Many of the people with whom we work are in the shadows of our society; they often feel marginalised or excluded. We work with people to help them make changes in their lives so that they can come in from the outside and participate in building their communities and contribute to their families, neighbours and environments. This is what social workers do to build social capital.
Sometimes in building that social capital citizens of one country have to move to another for work. They should not be dis-enfranchised by their governments from taking part in their civil responsibilities.
One of the important pillars of the Declaration of Human Rights included the participation of people in their communities and in the right to free and fair votes for those who put themselves forwards for positions of governance.
Free and Fair Elections
IFSW members from across the globe have raised with us some deep concerns about the lack of openness and transparency by some countries in their electoral systems. These include the exclusion of people from their basic rights – perhaps because residential rights have been removed from them when working in another country, perhaps because the voting arrangements are inaccessible, perhaps because of vote rigging and fraud.
The most recent concerns have been raised by our colleagues in Hungary following the decision of their government and upheld by their constitutional court for the elections that take place this Sunday 6th April 2014.
IFSW calls upon all its members in all regions to inform the IFSW Human Rights Commission of similar situations in their part of the globe and to campaign for fair and inclusive elections in all its member states. Further the Commission calls upon IFSW members to draw the attention of international bodies on any irregularities in people’s rights to free and fair elections. It is counterproductive in building social capital to ask social workers to work with people so that they are included in our societies to then find that people who have the governance of those societies deny the basic human right to vote in fair elections.
Issued by Ruth Stark, IFSW Human Rights Commissioner