International Social Work: Issues, Strategies, and Programs

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David Cox & Manohar Pawar

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    Introduction

    Goals

    We take pleasure in introducing you, the reader, to the interesting and challenging field of international social work. The main goal of this text, in both its first and second editions, is to share our understanding of international social work with social workers, development workers, and members of the helping professions generally. Our focus is particularly on the programs and strategies that are being applied to a range of situations involving needy individuals in developing countries, but also to similarly marginalized and deprived situations in developed countries. Our second goal is to encourage social workers around the world to consider how traditional social work might be applied more effectively to global concerns. Third, we aim to encourage social workers and others to consider devoting some part of their working lives to responding to the needs faced by developing countries, and especially the poorer ones where the helping professions are not well established. Fourth, we would like to see social workers and others contributing to the process of devising social policies and programs appropriate to this era of rapid globalization. Finally, we are convinced that an understanding of international social work will contribute to the effectiveness of social work and development practice wherever it is undertaken.

    Context

    This book is written with the global context in mind. One aspect of this context is the legacy of the past, such as colonialism and imperialism and their more recent counterparts. From these and other events has emerged a world still strongly characterized by areas and pockets of poverty and growing inequality. Moreover, we are today strongly aware that these endemic problems are complicated by the growing importance of climate change, the increasing frequency of natural disasters, the worsening of food insecurity, and the large number of fragile states. At the same time, the international community is growing stronger and is increasingly determined to address these concerns. Within this context, social work, with its long commitment to human rights and social justice, and its long experience of enhancing well-being in a great variety of contexts, has a significant role to play, in co-operation of course with a range of other professions reflecting the complex nature of global concerns.

    Readership

    This book is written for those who take an active interest in, or intend to work in, the field of international social work and social development. It is designed to inform undergraduate and postgraduate students in social work, as well as other human services workers, and to contribute to the understanding of relevant human services professionals engaged in international work, especially in the poorer developing countries. Social work and social development educators have used it as a prescribed text in courses. Higher-degree research students and social researchers may also find the book a useful reference source.

    Organization

    The book is, in its second edition, organized in 16 chapters. The first chapter introduces the concepts of social work and international social work. It is important for social work readers to possess a general overview of social work globally. The second chapter continues in outlining our conceptual model of international social work by introducing the importance of using an integrated-perspectives approach, which for us outlines the values, principles, and goals that international social work espouses. The third and final introductory chapter presents the global context of international social work. That context is complex, consisting of a range of global problems, a myriad of agencies established to respond to these problems, and various sets of conventions and policies, all of which reflect historical realities and the changing ideologies that surround these.

    Chapters 4 to 14 constitute the core of the text, focusing on specific fields in which international social work is involved, and introducing the major programs and strategies that characterize these fields. Chapter 4 introduces some key programs and strategies that tend to characterize intervention in all fields. Chapters 5 to 13 consider four significant fields, with one chapter (two in the case of migration) introducing the field and a second outlining the main programs and strategies currently used. The four fields are development, poverty, conflict and postconflict reconstruction, and various aspects of migration. Readers who are already relatively familiar with a field may omit the first chapter on that field and focus on the programs and strategies outlined in the second chapter. In general terms, however, we consider that readers should possess some understanding of the field as a whole, and the issues that run through it, before turning their attention to intervention approaches. Chapter 14 does not cover a major field but introduces, as examples, the international response to specific needy populations. As examples of intervention focused on selected populations, we outline the situation of, and responses to, seven groups: street children, child laborers, child soldiers, orphans and the HIV/AIDS crisis, and, more briefly, youth, the elderly, and persons with disability in developing countries.

    Chapter 15 considers the general questions of social work careers in international social work and specifically in international organizations, focusing, in the final section, on how social workers might prepare for undertaking such work.

    The final chapter poses some challenges for international social work's further development and suggests some steps for addressing those challenges.

    Special Features

    This book has several features that should be found useful by various groups of readers. Each chapter commences with a set of learning objectives. In the chapters relating to intervention, we have provided a number of short case examples and a few longer case studies. We hope that these will assist in grounding the discussion. Although the intention was to draw case examples from as wide a range of countries as possible, we are conscious that they do not represent all parts of the world. At the conclusion of each chapter, we have included a chapter summary, a list of questions for discussion, a list of possible research topics, and some references for further reading. The last three are, of course, only suggestive, especially the research topics. The suggested readings contain both recent and older publications, our criterion being those references known to us that were readily available and that we considered the most useful. The IFSW/IASSW's “Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles” is provided as an appendix because it represents in effect the only formal internationally devised and approved charter for social work as a global profession. Finally, a list of acronyms used in the book and one of useful websites are included at the end of the text.

    Second Edition

    In the second edition of this text we have updated much of the content, the references, and the additional reading lists at the end of chapters. In addition, we have expanded the material on migration by inserting an additional chapter because of the growing importance and complexity of this field, along with the increased difficulty of addressing the prevailing labor migration, asylum seeker, and displaced persons situations. The chapter on addressing the needs of specific populations now includes several additional population groups, while the material on labor migrants has been moved to the migration chapters. Finally, we have inserted a new chapter on the preparation of social workers for international social work, required because of what we see as a rapidly growing interest globally in social workers engaging in the international field.

    Feedback

    The goal of this text is to meet the needs of students studying international social work. To better meet your needs with any future editions, we would appreciate your feedback on the effectiveness of this edition. You can quickly and easily complete a questionnaire by going to www.sagepub.com/coxsurvey. To show our appreciation, we would like to offer you a free SAGE book (your choice, up to a $50 value). Many thanks!

    Acknowledgments

    We would like to acknowledge here the love and support of our families over the years—our wives, parents, and children. It is they, above all others, who have made possible our involvement in international social work and our commitment to the preparation of this text. We would also like to thank the peer reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions: Maria Lalayants, Hunter College; Kenneth Hermann, State University of New York—Brockport; Joseph Wronka, Springfield College; Francis Origanti, Creighton University; and Stephen Ulrich, Kentucky State University. Finally, we would like the team at SAGE for their efficient, patient, and friendly steering of the manuscript through to printing.

  • Appendix A: International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW)

    Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles
    1. Preface

    Ethical awareness is a fundamental part of the professional practice of social workers. Their ability and commitment to act ethically is an essential aspect of the quality of the service offered to those who use social work services.

    The purpose of IASSW and IFSW's work on ethics is to promote ethical debate and reflection in the member organisations, among the providers of social work in member countries, as well as in the schools of social work and among social work students. Some ethical challenges and problems facing social workers are specific to particular countries; others are common. By staying at the level of general principles, the joint IASSW and IFSW statement aims to encourage social workers across the world to reflect on the challenges and dilemmas that face them and make ethically informed decisions about how to act in each particular case. Some of these problem areas include:

    • The fact that the loyalty of social workers is often in the middle of conflicting interests
    • The fact that social workers function as both helpers and controllers
    • The conflicts between the duty of social workers to protect the interests of the people with whom they work and societal demands for efficiency and utility
    • The fact that resources in society are limited

    This document takes as its starting point the definition of social work adopted separately by the IFSW and IASSW at their respective General Meeting in Montreal, Canada in July 2000 and then agreed as a joint one in Copenhagen in May 2001 (section 2). This definition stresses principles of human rights and social justice. The next section (3) makes reference to the various declarations and conventions on human rights that are relevant to social work, followed by a statement of general ethical principles under the two broad headings of human rights and dignity and social justice (section 4). The final section introduces some basic guidance on ethical conduct in social work, which it is expected will be elaborated by the ethical guidance and in various codes and guidelines of the member organisations of IFSW and IASSW.

    2. Definition of Social Work

    The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.

    3. International Conventions

    International human rights declarations and conventions form common standards of achievement, and recognise rights that are accepted by the global community. Documents particularly relevant to social work practice and action are:

    • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    • The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights
    • The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination
    • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
    • The Convention on the Rights of the Child
    • Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO convention 169)
    4. Principles
    4.1 Human Rights and Human Dignity

    Social work is based on respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and the rights that follow from this. Social workers should uphold and defend each person's physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual integrity and well-being. This means:

    • Respecting the right to self-determination—Social workers should respect and promote people's right to make their own choices and decisions, irrespective of their values and life choices, provided this does not threaten the rights and legitimate interests of others.
    • Promoting the right to participation—Social workers should promote the full involvement and participation of people using their services in ways that enable them to be empowered in all aspects of decisions and actions affecting their lives.
    • Treating each person as a whole—Social workers should be concerned with the whole person, within the family, community and societal and natural environments, and should seek to recognise all aspects of a person's life.
    • Identifying and developing strengths—Social workers should focus on the strengths of all individuals, groups and communities and thus promote their empowerment.
    4.2 Social Justice

    Social workers have a responsibility to promote social justice, in relation to society generally, and in relation to the people with whom they work. This means:

    • Challenging negative discrimination1—Social workers have a responsibility to challenge negative discrimination on the basis of characteristics such as ability, age, culture, gender or sex, marital status, socio-economic status, political opinions, skin colour, racial or other physical characteristics, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs.
    • Recognising diversity—Social workers should recognise and respect the ethnic and cultural diversity of societies in which they practice, taking account of individual, family, group and community differences.
    • Distributing resources equitably—Social workers should ensure that resources at their disposal are distributed fairly, according to need.
    • Challenging unjust policies and practices—Social workers have a duty to bring to the attention of their employers, policy makers, politicians and the general public situations where resources are inadequate or where distribution of resources, policies and practices are oppressive, unfair or harmful.
    • Working in solidarity—Social workers have an obligation to challenge social conditions that contribute to social exclusion, stigmatisation or subjugation, and to work towards an inclusive society.
    5. Professional Conduct

    It is the responsibility of the national organisations in membership of IFSW and IASSW to develop and regularly update their own codes of ethics or ethical guidelines, to be consistent with the IFSW/IASSW statement. It is also the national organisation's responsibility to inform social workers and schools of social work about these codes or guidelines.

    Social workers should act in accordance with the ethical code or guidelines current in their country. These will generally include more detailed guidance in ethical practice specific to the national context. The following general guidelines on professional conduct apply:

    • Social workers are expected to develop and maintain the required skills and competence to do their job.
    • Social workers should not allow their skills to be used for inhumane purposes, such as torture or terrorism.
    • Social workers should act with integrity. This includes not abusing the relationship of trust with the people using their services, recognising the boundaries between personal and professional life, and not abusing their position for personal benefit or gain.
    • Social workers should act in relation to the people using their services with compassion, empathy and care.
    • Social workers should not subordinate the needs or interests of people who use their services to their own needs or interests.
    • Social workers have a duty to take necessary steps to care for themselves professionally and personally in the workplace and in society, in order to ensure that they are able to provide appropriate services.
    • Social workers should maintain confidentiality regarding information about people who use their services. Exceptions to this may only be justified on the basis of a greater ethical requirement (such as the preservation of life).
    • Social workers need to acknowledge that they are accountable for their actions to the users of their services, the people they work with, their colleagues, their employers, the professional association and to the law, and that these accountabilities may conflict.
    • Social workers should be willing to collaborate with the schools of social work in order to support social work students to get practical training of good quality and up to date practical knowledge.
    • Social workers should foster and engage in ethical debate with their colleagues and employers and take responsibility for making ethically informed decisions.
    • Social workers should be prepared to state the reasons for their decisions based on ethical considerations, and be accountable for their choices and actions.
    • Social workers should work to create conditions in employing agencies and in their countries where the principles of this statement and those of their own national code (if applicable) are discussed, evaluated and upheld.

    The document Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles was approved at the General Meetings of the International Federation of Social Workers and the International Association of Schools of Social Work in Adelaide, Australia, October 2004.

    Copyright © 2004 International Federation of Social Workers and International Association of Schools of Social Work, PO Box 6875, CH-3001 Bern, Switzerland.

    Note

    1. In some countries the term discrimination would be used instead of negative discrimination. The word negative is used here because in some countries the term positive discrimination is also used. Positive discrimination is also known as affirmative action. Positive discrimination or affirmative action means positive steps taken to redress the effects of historical discrimination against the groups named in clause 4.2.1 above.

    Appendix B: Acronyms

    APEC –

    Asia Pacific Economic Association

    APMJ –

    Asia Pacific Migration Journal

    ASEAN –

    Association of Southeast Asian Nations

    AU –

    African Union

    AusAID –

    Australian Government Department for International Aid

    CD –

    community development

    COSW –

    Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work

    CSWE –

    Council on Social Work Education (USA)

    DP –

    Displaced Person

    DFID –

    UK Department for International Development

    ECOSOC –

    UN's Economic and Social Commission

    ESCAP –

    UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

    EU –

    European Union

    FAO –

    UN Food and Agriculture Organisation

    GATT –

    General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now WTO)

    GDI –

    UNDP's Gender-related Development Index

    GDP –

    gross domestic product

    GEM –

    UNDP's Gender Empowerment Measure

    GNP –

    gross national product

    HABITAT –

    UN Centre for Human Settlements

    HDI –

    Human Development Index of the UNDP

    HIV/AIDS –

    human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

    HPI –

    Human Poverty Index of UNDP

    IASSW –

    International Association of Schools of Social Work

    ICRC –

    International Committee of the Red Cross

    ICSD –

    International Consortium for Social Development

    ICSW –

    International Council on Social Welfare

    ICVA –

    International Council of Voluntary Agencies

    IDA –

    International Development Association (World Bank's Fund for the Poorest)

    IDP –

    internally displaced person

    IFAD –

    International Fund for Agricultural Development

    IFSW –

    International Federation of Social Workers

    ILO –

    International Labour Organisation

    IMF –

    International Monetary Fund

    INGO –

    international nongovernment organization

    IOM –

    International Organisation for Migration

    LDC –

    least developed country

    LO –

    local organization

    MNC –

    multinational corporation

    MPI –

    UNDP's Multidimensional Poverty Index

    MSF –

    Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)

    NASW –

    National Association of Social Workers (USA)

    NATO –

    North Atlantic Treaty Organization

    NGO –

    nongovernmental organization

    ODA –

    official development assistance

    OECD –

    Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

    OECD-DAC –

    OECD's Development Assistance Committee

    PO –

    people's organization

    PTSD –

    post-traumatic stress disorder

    SAP –

    Structural Adjustment Program of IMF and World Bank

    TNC –

    transnational corporation

    UN –

    United Nations

    UNAIDS –

    Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

    UNCHR –

    United Nations Centre for Human Rights

    UNCTAD –

    United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

    UNDAC –

    United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination

    UNDESA –

    United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

    UNDFW –

    United Nations Development Fund for Women

    UNDP –

    United Nations Development Programme

    UN Enable –

    Work of the UN for Persons with Disability

    UNESCO –

    United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

    UNFPA –

    United Nations Population Fund

    UNHCHR –

    United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

    UNHCR –

    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    UNICEF –

    United Nations Children's Fund

    UNOCHA –

    United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs

    UNODA –

    United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs

    UNOHRLLS –

    United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

    UNRISD –

    United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

    UNWomen –

    United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

    USAID –

    The USA's Agency for International Development

    WB –

    World Bank

    WFP –

    World Food Programme

    WHO –

    World Health Organisation

    WTO –

    World Trade Organization

    Appendix C: Useful Websites

    Civil Society – International

    http://www.uia.be/ (Union of International Associations, Brussels. Publishes Yearbook of International Associations)

    Conflict and Peace – Data and Studies

    http://www.sipri.org/ (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

    http://www.pcr.uu.se/research/ucdp/ (Uppsala Universitet, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala Conflict Data Program)

    Development Aid

    www.aideffectiveness.org

    http://www.usaid.gov/ (United States Agency for International Development)

    http://www.ausaid.gov.au/ (Australian Government Overseas Aid Program)

    http://www.dfid.gov.uk/ (United Kingdom Department for International Development)

    http://www.oecd.org/ (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

    http://www.oecd.org/dac/ (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – Development Assistance Committee – DAC)

    Global Conflict

    http://www.pcr.uu.se/research/ucdp/ (Uppsala Conflict Data Program at Uppsala University)

    http://www.sipri.org/ (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

    International Issues

    http://uk.oneworld.net/guides/ (City University, London, website)

    International Social Work and Social Welfare

    http://www.iassw-aiets.org/ (International Association of Schools of Social Work)

    http://www.ifsw.org/ (International Federation of Social Workers)

    http://www.icsw.org/ (International Council on Social Welfare)

    http://commonwealthsw.org/ (Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work)

    Migration

    http://www.iom.int/ (International Organisation for Migration)

    Social Development

    www.gsdrc.org (Governance and Social Development Resource Centre – DFID funded)

    http://www.iucisd.org/ (Inter-University Consortium on Social Development)

    http://www.odi.org.uk (Overseas Development Institute, London)

    Social Work

    http://cswe.org/CentersInitiatives/KAKI/KAKIResources.aspx (Council on Social Work Education)

    Some Prominent Development and Other International NGOs

    http://www.msf.org/ (Medecins Sans Frontieres)

    http://oxfam.org/ (Oxfam)

    http://www.icrc.org/ (International Committee of the Red Cross)

    http://hrw.org/ (Human Rights Watch)

    http://www.savethechildren.org/ (Save the Children Fund)

    http://www.iss-ssi.org/ (International Social Service)

    http://www.amnesty.org/ (Amnesty International)

    United Nations

    http://www.un.org/en/ga/ (United Nations General Assembly)

    http://www.un.org/docs/sc (United Nations Security Council)

    http://www.un.org/disarmament/ (United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs–UN-ODA)

    http://www.unhcr.org/ (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)

    http://www.unrisd.org/ (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development)

    http://www.who.int/en/ (World Health Organisation)

    http://www.fao.org/ (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN)

    http://www.unaids.org (United Nations Agency for HIV/AIDS)

    http://www.un.org/en/development/desa (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs)

    http://social.un.org/index/CommissionforSocialDevelopment.aspx (United Nations Commission for Social Development)

    http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home.html (United Nations Development Program)

    http://www.unescap.org/ (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific)

    http://www.unhabitat.org/ (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements)

    http://www.unicef.org/ (United Nations' Children's Fund)

    http://www.unohrlls.org/ (United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States)

    http://www.unifem.org/materials/ (United Nations Development Fund for Women)

    http://www.unocha.org/ (United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs)

    http://www.unwomen.org/ (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women)

    http://www.ohchr.org/en/ (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)

    http://un.org/disarmanent/ (United Nations Office for Disarmament)

    http://www.un.org/disabilities/ (Work of the UN for Persons With Disability – UN Enable)

    http://www.unesco.org/ (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

    http://www.ilo.org/global/ (International Labour Organization)

    World Bank

    http://www.worldbank.org/

    http://www.worldbank.org/ida/ (World Bank International Development Association)

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    About the Authors

    David Cox received his initial university education in arts and social work at the University of Melbourne, and his Ph.D. at La Trobe University in the field of the sociology of migration. He worked in the refugee, migration, and international social work areas for 20 years full-time, before beginning to teach in these fields in schools of social work in Melbourne, becoming Professor of Social Work at La Trobe University in 1988. During his teaching career, he carried out extensive fieldwork, largely with UN/ESCAP and various NGOs. He has published two books in social work with immigrants, and more than 60 monographs, research reports, book chapters, and journal articles in his selected areas. Dr. Cox is married with two children, both currently working in the international field. While formally retired, he is an adjunct professor in social work at La Trobe University. Dr. Cox was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1984 for his service to the refugee and migration field.

    Manohar Pawar received his B.A., M.A.S.W., and Ph.D. at leading schools of social work and universities in India, where he also engaged in considerable field-work. He is currently a professor of social work, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and a principal researcher at the Institute for Land Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia. In addition, Prof. Pawar is the president of the Asia-Pacific branch of the International Consortium for Social Development. He has 30 years of experience in social work education, research, and practice in Australia and India. Earlier, he taught at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India.

    Professor Pawar has received a number of awards, including the citation award for outstanding contributions to student learning 2008, from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council; and faculty of arts awards for academic excellence (2009), teaching excellence (2006), and research excellence (2001). He also received a Quality of Life Award (2001) from the Association of Commonwealth Universities. He has completed a number of funded national and international research projects involving Asia-Pacific countries, and has organized international practica for social work students. Prof. Pawar has published several books and refereed journal articles. Some of his own and coauthored published titles include Sage Handbook of International Social Work (Ed., 2012, Sage); Community Development in Asia and the Pacific (2010, Routledge); Social Development: Critical Themes and Perspectives (Ed., 2010, Routledge); International Social Work: Issues, Strategies and Programs (2006, Sage); and Data Collecting Methods and Experiences (2004, New Dawn Press). His current areas of interest include international social development, social work and social policy, social aspects of climate change and water, social work education, informal care and ageing, NGOs, and community development.


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