A Call to Action
Global Threat & Social Workers Response
Since the devastating attacks on the United States we have witnessed a profoundly disturbing response from governments, politicians and sections of our communities.
While the search for those responsible must go on there has been an alarming increase in the calls for retribution and displays of xenophobic attacks in different places around the World.
Colleagues in a number of countries are reporting that, in particular, followers of Islam, people or Arabic descent and Jews have been the subject of harassment and physical attack.
Media polls reveal high levels of support for direct military attacks (upon whom no one can be sure) as a means of retribution. A common language of hate and revenge is presently gaining ground as the dominant voice.
What Can IFSW Do?
The IFSW has released a Statement on the Terror Hitting the USA. It says in part
Acts of terrorism can never be condoned and those responsible carry with them a moral responsibility that never can be eradicated. However at these very times social workers world-wide will join in a plea for a reasoned and non-violent response to such an atrocity, and that the actions ahead seek justice but not revenge.
Above all we appeal to individuals, groups and governments, not to exercise any judgement on any particular nation, ethnic group or culture. Terrorism and wars are the products of individuals and groupings with a distorted view of power and its use. Their behaviour cannot and must not be attributed to entire communities who share a common background.
Our statement has been sent to member organisations urging their support and action. It has been posted on the Web and distributed through media channels.
The IFSW through its various representations at international levels such as the with other international non – governmental organizations accredited to the United Nations will continue to push for reasoned non violent responses. We will seek to work with other like-minded bodies.
What Can You Do?
The power of the individual must never be underestimated nor forgotten.
As individual social workers, or indeed anyone reading this page we urge you to do some or all of the following.
Contact key international groups with a like voice
Which group? There are many and they include the well-known aid agencies and human rights watch groups
The World Council of Churches has, for a number of decades, played a leading role in reconciliation and peace negotiations. They have also been very active in working with the outcomes of armed conflict, the millions of refugees, injured and dispossessed.
Write to religious leaders voicing your support for a non-violent response. They also need to receive support for their stand.
Whatever our personal belief system we must remember that the faiths of the world are united in their opposition to violence and responses which seek retribution. We must never confuse the actions of individuals who claim to represent a faith with the actual belief system and practice of that faith and the vast majority of its followers. The actions of extremist Catholics, Protestants, Jews or Muslims to name recent examples do not represent the views of the religions and their many followers.
Do not neglect your national politicians. If they have expressed support for a response that seeks retribution, especially at the potential cost of innocent lives, do not assume that their view must be that of the party. If such views remain unchallenged they will be the dominant voice.
Do not forget to support those politicians and parties who espouse a reasoned non-violent response.
Every member country has an Ambassador and team to the United Nations
Send messages to your country’s UN Ambassador.
What to Say
Acknowledge the pain and destruction caused
Urge the exercise of restraint
Remind them that this is in fact a progression of violence that has perpetrated the globe for some years
Note that violence has previously claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people in other conflicts and that violent interventions were not successful rather created further tragedy.
Note the well-documented short medium and long-term effects of war on individuals, and the social economic and political consequences.
Many good and dispossessed people in countries like Afghanistan will only come to believe the politics of extremists that espouse a West East divide
Urge political leaders to address as a matter of urgency the factors that give rise to such views of dominance by countries some countries over others, and to continue work to address issues of the distribution of global wealth, poverty, ill health, lack of access to education etc.
Do not forget to note that women and children are the most affected by such conflicts, frequently the victims of all forms of violence as they seek refuge.
We must ask our leaders and ourselves what are the outcomes we seek?
Seek the support of your friend’s colleagues and others and encourage their active voice.
Remember, all that it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.
International Federation of Social Workers