Human Rights and Their Relevance for Social Work as Theory and Practice
Human rights have a long tradition in social work theory and practice, first of all more implicitly and, from about 1970 more explicitly. The more recent documents of the scientific and professional community relating explicitly to human rights include the International Definition of the Social Work Profession, the Ethics in Social Work: Statement of Principles, and the Global Standards for the Education and Training of the Social Work Profession. Taking seriously the documents of the international associations means not only integrating human rights into the curriculum but something more challenging: bringing human rights as a central, regulative idea into the whole discipline and practice of social work, which means bringing it into the debates about social work's object and explanatory base as well as its value base and practice. This chapter addresses the following questions of social work as action science: What are human rights violations in the problem or action field of social work? How can one explain human rights violations? What does human dignity mean as the philosophical and ethical base of human rights, and is it possible to avoid colonialism in the name of human rights? What roles do human rights play in the professional mandate of social work? How can human rights be discussed, claimed, and implemented on the social micro, mezzo, and macro levels?
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