74 years have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1948, following the Second World War, as a basis for freedom, justice and peace. Today, human rights continue to be one of the most relevant social, political and economic issues. This highlights the importance of social work and brings us to reflection: are we as professionals aware of the role we have to play in regards to human rights, individually and collectively? There are still ethical dilemmas. We are in agreement with the Indigenous Commission of the International Federation of Social Workers that we must move beyond a narrow conceptualization of human rights and embrace what may be to some social workers truly foreign and uncomfortable. We need to understand and acknowledge that rights must be contextualized within relationships and interwoven with responsibilities and that identified relationships and responsibilities are not ours to decide but to accept in order to advance our actions before the situations we as humans are going through: the Indigenous land defence against open-pit mining -carrying incalculable environmental damage linked to climate change-, as well as the protection of the planet, the defence of our right to water, labour rights, the protection of children, adolescents, women, LGBTQ+ communities, ageing and older adults. We stand against all acts of violence or inequity, against all kinds of discrimination, understanding the diversity in which human beings coexist. The Latin American and Caribbean region of the International Federation of Social Workers calls on our professional, academic and student collective to work towards Ubuntu as a philosophy for our action, contributing to joint social action, leaving no one behind.
To conclude, we would like to bid farewell and pay tribute to Hebe de Bonafini (4 December 1928 – 20 November 2022), founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, tireless fighter for human rights, against dictatorships and neoliberalism, in Argentina and throughout our Latin American and Caribbean region.
To deprive people of their human rights is to call into question their very humanity
Nelson Mandela, South African civil rights activist
The only fight that is lost is that which is abandoned
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo
Kenia Batista, President Latin America and the Caribbean Region
Tânia Ramos, Vice President Latin America and the Caribbean Region