Social workers around the world are shocked to see the increase in violence, conflict and military confrontation. Social workers see the impact of this on individuals and communities and cannot remain silent in the face of such pain and distress.
Social workers, in contexts of violence and conflict, face significantly complex challenges. They have to respond to people showing extreme emotions of energy and fear, very often when people are not listening to each other. IFSW restates the ethical position of the social work role in peacebuilding through developing frameworks of respectful dialogue leading to cooperation and lives built on equality and justice.
As the international social work body, the Federation and its members have developed significant worldwide insights in sustainable peacebuilding in situations of violent conflict. The commonalities in all the situations have been based on social work principles and have included advancing the following key messages and actions within the communities and in environments in which they work:
- That before peace can be established there must be a willingness to advocate for the rights and justice for all concerned and dialogue between peoples.
- That the key actors in peacebuilding are internal to the conflict and outside influences should only be based on recognising the equal human rights and freedoms of all people.
- That local civil societies need to play an active role in guiding their political leaders into dialogue for peacebuilding.
- That both civil society and political leaders must introduce, and advance frameworks of cooperation based on co-existence and a balance of equal rights and responsibilities for all involved.
- That peace negotiations include a transformative vision where all affected can see a new, more just, and better life based on equality for all.
- That when the social worker’s personal safety is not at risk, we have a responsibility to our ethical principles to promote nonviolence expression and the recognition of all people’s rights.
In the social work experience, all violence must be challenged as violence prolongs conflict and delays resolution. In the case of people fighting for their freedom, the social work role is to support their actions to be expressed by non-violent resistance. This enables recognition of people’s rights to express their aspirations and recognizes that, in the end, only when people are able to talk and explore mutually acceptable solutions can sustainable peace be achieved.
IFSW calls for the international communities and governments to recognise the role of social workers as facilitators of sustainable peace, security and human rights for all peoples.
Social work for a world of peace and justice for all!
Issued by the IFSW President, Silvana Martinez and Secretary-General Rory Truell