IFSW Europe, meeting in Brussels on 8-10 April 2011 is seriously concerned about the financial crisis affecting all the countries of Europe and the radical changes in social services and social protection arrangements which governments are imposing on our communities, with damaging consequences for poorer and marginalised people.
IFSW Europe points to the fact that Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is upheld by all countries in Europe, states (among other rights) that ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Social workers across Europe know from daily experience that the continent faces a major social crisis with growing anger/anxiety, fear and poverty. Social workers also see that the biggest impact of the crisis is on the weakest members of the community, including older people, children, people with disabilities and those with few skills, all of whom have rights under the Declaration.
European social workers meeting together also observe that the crisis is threatening European solidarity. There are growing divisions between richer and poorer countries and between richer and poor people within countries which have a damaging impact on community cohesion and on marginalised groups.
IFSW Europe calls on the European Union, Council of Europe and national governments and global bodies to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights (and other related international instruments) and in particular the right to social support and social services.
IFSW Europe calls on individual social workers and their employing agencies to uphold the values and ethics of the profession and to support the civil, political, social, and cultural rights of service users.
IFSW Europe calls on national member organisations to monitor the commitment of social work agencies to human rights, to take action to publicise human rights abuses and to challenge agencies when they fail to uphold human rights.
IFSW Europe invites our ENSACT, Social Platform and other partners to work jointly with us in this field and to promote education and research in this field.
IFSW Europe calls on all schools of social work to ensure that all students do at least one project in the area of human rights.
IFSW Europe will provide support to national organisations to help them support social workers to promote the human rights of service users and the rights of social workers.