Minutes of the IFSW General Meeting 2004
Agenda item 6
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS
Welcome to the Biennial Report of the IFSW for the period 2002 – 2004. This report provides a summary of the work undertaken by and on behalf of the IFSW over the preceding two years. In part it also provides a window into the future, looking at what we have achieved but also what we now seek to achieve in the next period.
As we close the reporting period the IFSW has member organisations in 78 countries, representing 470,000 social workers worldwide. The work of the IFSW is conducted through our Secretariat in Bern, staffed by 1.8 staff and supported by over 80 volunteers in a variety of official positions. Many of these individuals have contributed to the preparation of this report.
At the 2002 General Meeting constitutional changes were adopted that saw a change to the structure of the Executive Committee. The incoming Committee has been committed to the effective implementation of the constitutional change. We hope that through this report and documents tabled at the 2004 General Meeting member organisations will see the positive impact of the changes. Perhaps the most significant has been the reduction in meeting costs and the redirection of a proportion of funds to establish funding for regional development.
Another major initiative has been the work of the Task Force on Fees which addressed the fee arrangements for members’ organisations unable to meet the full fee level.
Much of the work of the IFSW occurs at regional levels. This past period has seen considerable endeavour on the part of each Vice President and Members at large together with their regional committees, where they have been formed. We have observed that the change to one Vice President and one Member at Large for each region has served to strengthen a focus on regional work, while at the same time ensuring that all elected members can make decisions in the best interests of the entire organisation.
The African region has strengthened through this period with 15 organisations expressing interest in membership. Kenya has also committed itself to hosting another Pan African Conference in 2005. Through the work of our Member at Large, Charles Mbugua, we are in the final stages of establishing a team at the UN Nairobi.
The Asia and Pacific Region has invested considerable time in the development of the regional network. Membership increases are imminent and Palestine is expected to be admitted into membership at the Adelaide General Meeting. It was with great sadness that we received the news of the cancellation of the Regional Conference in Nagasaki 2003. This painful decision was brought on by the SARS epidemic. The IFSW fully understood and supported the difficult decision of our Japanese colleagues but mourned the loss of what would have been an excellent conference. We can only extend once more our thanks to our Japanese colleagues for their continued support of the Federation.
IFSW Europe has gone from strength to strength over a number of years. This development has continued during the past 2 years. The Regional Executive and Honorary Secretary have worked with the IFSW Secretariat to extend the voice of social work within the region. The Danish Co-ordinating body, a strong member of the region and IFSW, hosted an excellent regional conference and in tandem the IFSW Executive Meeting. Our thanks are extended to them.
Our representatives in the Latin American and Caribbean region have continued to work very hard to strengthen the regional network. This has, in some ways been assisted by the increase n the amount of information available in Spanish.
While North America has only the two organisations in membership between them they represent over one third of the individual social workers in affiliation. The level of active co-operation between these two members continues to grow and has been marked by two joint meetings.
Since we last met in Geneva we have witnessed the Iraqi conflict. The IFSW has taken a clear and unambiguous stand against the use of military force in this and other conflicts. We remain deeply concerned about the level of conflict through out the world and to that end will present a statement for adoption at the General Meeting in Adelaide.
The Joint IASSW/IFSW Human Rights Commission continues to advocate for individuals, groups and communities where human rights are being denied. Elis Envall, has, in his role as Secretary of the Joint Human Rights Commission been active in pursuing individual cases and revising the goals, objectives and roles of Commissioners. The actual mechanism for operating a Joint Human Rights Commission has, however, in practical terms been put on hold.
Ethical practice is fundamental to social work and our Permanent Committee on Ethical Issues has completed outstanding work on the revised document The Ethics of Social Work; Principles and Standards. This has been done by a small and expert group who have liaised with regional representatives and member organisations. The process has also been conducted jointly with the IASSW and both our organisations hope to be able to formally adopt the revised document at the Adelaide GM.
We have continued our representation to the United Nations in Geneva and New York, and set into motion representation in Nairobi. An impressive amount of time and effort is put into this work by our voluntary representatives, making social work visible not only for the UN and its agencies, but also for governments and civil society.
Along side of this we have worked with the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) in the development of Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training. This extensive and important document will set a framework for social work education at an international level. Once again there has been extensive consultation and we aim to jointly adopt the standards in Adelaide.
Our partnership with IASSW goes well beyond these projects and forms a framework to ensure that the voices of practitioners and educators are united and harmonious in pursuit of our common goals of social justice. This pursuit of partnership also extends to other key international organisations and we are delighted that we have been able to re-establish an excellent connection with our colleagues in the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW). Further details of this co-operation will be provided in the body of this report.
Our Friends program continues to grow in strength. We now have a total of 1225 Friends in registration since the program started in 1991.
Finally our secretariat has continued to meet the heavy demands placed upon it. This has been so throughout the past two years but has an added dimension with the recent illness of our Communications Officer Lisbeth Mattson. It has served as a difficult reminder about the reliance of the Federation upon a very dedicated but modest infrastructure and the necessity to address the need for further resource injection in order to address the demands which are ever increasing.
Sydney/Berne, 17 August 2004
Imelda Dodds Tom Johannesen
President Secretary General
President: Imelda Dodds, Australia
Treasurer: Fiona Robertson, New Zealand
Vice-President Africa: Kishore C. Ramgoolam. Mauritius
Vice-President Asia & Pacific: Justina Leung, Hong Kong
Vice-President Europe: David N. Jones, United Kingdom
Vice-President Latina America & Caribbean: Juan Manuel Latorre Carvajal, Colombia
Vice-President North-America: Gary Bailey, USA
Members at large
Africa: Charles Mbugua, Kenya
Asia & Pacific: John Ang, Singapore
Europe: Monica Egan, Ireland
Latin America & Caribbean: Joaquina Brata Teixeira, Brazil
North-America: John Mould, Canada (until July 2003)
Ellen Oliver, Canada (from July 2003)
EXECUTIVE AND STEERING COMMITTEE MEETINGS
Two Executive Meetings (Geneva, July 2002 and Copenhagen May 2003) and two Steering Committee Meetings (Bern, 2003 and Sydney 2004) have been held since the last General Meeting in Geneva. A further Executive Meeting will be held immediately before the General Meeting in Adelaide in September 2004. Complete minutes for these meetings are held at the Secretariat and can be obtained upon request. The following is a summary of the meetings. Some matters reported here may be covered elsewhere in this report.
GENEVA 29 JULY 2000 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
This meeting, as always convened immediately after the General Meeting, is the first of the new Executive Committee. This was significant in the fact that it also marked the change of the structure of the Executive Committee from 17 members down to 12. Regrettably attendance at this meeting was not as high as would have been desirable. Much of the work of the meeting was spent reviewing the General Meeting process and making preliminary allocations of workload.
BERN, JANUARY 2003 STEERING COMMITTEE
This 3-day meeting of the new Steering Committee was intensive and productive. The Steering Committee is comprised of the President, 1st Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary General. It has no decision-making powers but is charged with the responsibility of monitoring the work of the IFSW.
The IFSW Action Plan was reviewed in detail. As a result of the meeting a series of recommendations were forwarded to the Executive Committee for voting and to individuals for specific follow up.
The Steering Committee is also the finance committee so this enabled a thorough overview of the budget situation for the IFSW. In particular work on a revised schedule of reimbursement for the Executive Committee was considered. Most importantly the Committee developed a discussion paper on financing regional development.
COPENHAGEN, MAY 2003 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The Danish Co-ordinating body hosted the Executive Meeting which coincided with the European Regional Conference. We are indebted to them for their warm hospitality.
This represented the first full meeting of the new Executive Committee. It provided and important opportunity for the Executive to review the plans for IFSW and set a new strategic direction in the light of changes adopted at the Geneva General Meeting. John Mould led a strategic planning session headlined “Where does IFSW want to be in 2006?”
The Executive Committee endorsed in principle the discussion paper on Financing Regional Development and asked the Steering Committee to make a final recommendation. New guidelines for the management of membership applications were similarly endorsed.
The job descriptions for our office bearers and volunteers are sadly out of date or non existent. A process to revise job descriptions where they exist and create those not available was commenced. This should provide greater clarity to individuals in their role and for those considering nominating.
IFSW publications were a part of the agenda and we took the decision to cease publication of the IFSW Newsletter in favour of ifsw update. This was not an easy decision as the newsletter was well received. However we believe that the cost of the newsletter could be better used in other promotional ways. Another compelling factor is that by the time the newsletter reaches member organisations and friends much of the information was out of date. The use of Internet provides a much faster means of communication. Feedback to the secretariat indicates that the ifsw Update is being very well received.
Very sadly, the Executive Committee received the news from the Japanese Co-ordinating Body that the Asia & Pacific Regional Conference, to be held in Nagasaki in July that year had to be cancelled due to the SARS epidemic. The Executive fully understood and supported the difficult nature of the decision that had to be made by our Japanese colleagues.
SYDNEY, JANUARY 2004 STEERING COMMITTEE
The Steering Committee Meeting was held in Sydney to provide an opportunity to meet with the organisers of the 2004 World Congress. As always the IFSW Action Plan was reviewed in detail. As a result of the meeting a series of recommendations were forwarded to the Executive Committee for voting and to individuals for specific follow up.
A meeting with the conference Organisers and representatives from IASSW provided a much appreciated opportunity to review progress on the preparations of the conference, clarify any outstanding questions and allocate tasks to respective organisations. It was both appositive and productive meting.
At the conclusion of the General Meeting in Geneva 2002, national social work organisations in 78 countries were in membership. The meeting also saw the introduction of constitutional change relating to categories of membership and the methods of assessing applications. These changes meant that a number of organisations that had not met their responsibility with regard to the payment of fees were transferred to the revised status of provisional membership. However this was not implemented until a period of six months had elapsed during which every effort was made to assist the member organisations to make necessary arrangements.
Since Geneva 2002, we have not admitted any new full members. The number of individual members in the member organizations is at 470,000. At the forthcoming General Meeting in Adelaide it is anticipated that new members will be admitted.
11 organisations from the following countries are in provisional membership under the new arrangements: Bahrain, Chile, Greece, India, Lebanon, Lesotho, (f.y.r.o.) Macedonia, Mongolia, Netherlands Antilles, Niger and the Slovak Republic.
The financial situation of IFSW continues to cause concern. Both total and membership income and expenses continue to grow. Following a number of years profit, in years 1999 and 2000 the Federation recorded losses (more than 42,000 Swiss Francs in 1999 and more than 32,000 in 2000) and had to reduce funds to reach a balance. 2001 ended with a small surplus, but in 2002 we again had a loss (15,000 Swiss Francs). The accounts for 2003 are not finalised at the time of writing.
The causes for this situation were outlined in Geneva and remain substantially the same.
Lack of payment of membership dues
The past situation was largely caused by a lack of payment of membership dues, by increased costs for meetings, lack of income from world conferences (the two last world conferences were not able to meet financial obligations), and by administrative costs.
A very limited budget
We are operating a global body at a very limited budget of less than 440,000 Swiss Francs (appr. 345,000 US Dollars) and trying to meet a number of expectations from around the world. Volunteers cover many of their own expenses, and the Secretariat is not adequately compensated for the number of hours worked.
TASK FORCE ON MEMBERSHIP FEES
In considering our financial position in 2002 the General Meeting endorsed a proposal to establish as Task Force on Fees in order to address some of the difficulties experienced in the collection of membership fees. The report of the Task Force will be provided at the General Meeting.
The African region has not grown as expected, but is making progress through an increased interest in Membership. Although membership remains at eleven organisations, contact has been made with 15 non-member Associations from different countries who have expressed an interest in our work. Contact with former member organisations has also been a feature of this period, in particular Egypt. Those members who have lapsed into provisional membership are being encouraged to remedy this situation. The support of member organisations in Denmark, Norway and Switzerland has been of great importance to organisations that would otherwise find it difficult to remain in the IFSW.
The development of strategic links has been a focus of the past 2 years. Informal collaboration has been established with the African Union and links have been made with the Economic Commission for Africa, UNEP and UN Habitat Office.
The regional structure has yet to be established. However regular contact is maintained between the Vice-President, the Member at Large, Human Rights Commissioner and Member of the Ethical Committee. The Regional Conference in 2005 will provide an important opportunity to work for the establishment of an effective regional structure.
Looking to the future the region plans to issue a yearly journal of Social Work for Africa. Funding for this project has yet to be identified.
In Collaboration with Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW), a project for Young Carers has being initiated in Uganda. Financial support has been sought to fund this project.
Work is well underway for the 6th Pan African Conference on Social Work in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2005. The theme “Professional Social Work and its Contribution to Africa’s Development” will provide the framework for a much needed regional conference and discussion about the future of social work in that region. Indeed the region aims to hold a discussion on the
Changing Role of the Social Worker. Given the specificity of the African Region, we are planning to have a thorough discussion on the topic. This will provide an opportunity to discuss how to best develop social work to meet the many challenges in Africa.
The issues of HIV AIDS & Poverty cannot be escaped in the African context. Together and separately the pose the most significant challenge to the region. There is an urgent need for the establishment of strategies and policies that will assist social workers to deal with these issues in Africa.
ASIA & PACIFIC
The work plan of the Asia Pacific Region was greatly affected by the unfortunate cancellation of the Regional Conference due to the outbreak of SARS. The Regional Conference not only provides a most important continuing educational opportunity but also the venue for the regional meeting and other related activities. Thus the opportunity for the regional Executive to meet and further its plans was affected.
Many member associations have been actively engaged in the promotion of the social work profession in their respective localities. Several have held important celebrations of anniversaries. The IFSW has endeavoured to participate in each event in person or via a letter of greeting. The Vice President has been able to visit several associations and attend meetings, one of which was the Gulf Conference in Bahrain in December 2003 also attended by the Communications Officer from the IFSW Secretariat.
Several applications for membership have also been received and assessed. The twinning programme between the Japan Association of Social Workers and the Kyrgyz Association of Social Workers continues to make good progress. The Hong Kong Social Workers Association has finalised the translation of “The Social Work and the Right of the Child – A Professional Training Manual on the UN Convention” into Chinese. A pre-conference workshop on “Working with Families” will be held in Adelaide in October 2004 to promote sharing of professional perspective, practice experience and wisdom amongst colleagues in Asia-Pacific Region.
The Organizing Committee of the 17th Asia-Pacific Social Work Conference which was originally scheduled for July 2003 at Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan had done a marvellous job in the preparation for the conference. A large number of outstanding papers were received and support for the conference gained from many sectors in Japan. All the papers were then made available on the conference web-site to ensure that this rich source of experience was not lost.
The 18th Asia Pacific Conference on “Challenges and Responses of Social Work: Toward a New Asia-Pacific Paradigm” will be held on September 21-24, 2005 in Seoul, Korea.
Closer links amongst member associations will be essential in order to realize the many meaningful projects operating in the Asia & Pacific Region. Greater effort will also be required in responding to the many current social phenomena and professional issues so that our social work community can better contribute to the well being of the communities in which it works.
The region includes the largest number of countries (35) and member organisations and the most social workers (169,000). There is a well-established system of annual Delegates Meetings, local membership fees and a regional Executive meeting regularly.
Delegates meetings were held in Copenhagen in May 2003 and Brussels in June 2004. Both were attended by more than 50 participants representing more than 20 countries. Europe has successfully experimented with less formal meetings with more participation in small group discussions. A survey of participants indicates that these approaches have been welcomed.
The Delegates Meeting 2004 set out the following priorities for the Region in 2004-6:
• Role of Social Work in Europe [ROSE] project
• European Union – from ‘knowing’ to ‘influence’
• Council of Europe – agreeing priorities and extending influence
• Users and carers – agreeing a policy and identifying who to campaign with
• Strengthening alliances for joint campaigns
• Supporting each other
• Making a practical reality of social work values and ethics
The new EU Permanent Committee has identified possible priorities for IFSW activity. IFSW Europe hopes to become a member of an umbrella group called Social Platform which brings together a number of service user and advocacy groups, NGOs and others committed to developing social policy within the European Union. Initial meetings have been held.
The two main areas of activity have been the revised directive on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications and a proposed Directive on Services of General Interest. The former sets out the grounds for recognition of qualifications of people moving between member states of the union but it also in effect establishes a basis for comparison between qualifications within the national context as well. The directive on services is likely to result in a European definition of social services and set a framework for the relationship between public, private and NGO service providers.
A policy paper on Service Users [Clients] is being prepared and will be considered for application to the global level, probably in 2005.
IFSW Europe has agreed with several related professional bodies to develop a memorandum of partnership for approval in 2005, aiming to establish a stronger voice for social work and the social professions within European institutions.
The Region has been working to develop a consensus about the role of the social worker in a changing Europe as a basis for more confident promotion by member organisations and IFSW Europe. The Role of the Social Worker in Europe [ROSE PROJECT] brings together many of the regional priority themes, including the work with service users and a separate task on service providers and privatisation of services.
The 2003 European Seminar was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in May 2003. This was highly successful attracting 720 social workers, academics, social pedagogues, students and others. Social Work 2005 will be in Cyprus on 23-25 May on the theme of Social Work Challenges for Social Cohesion. The European region also held special events for social work students during the regional seminar in Helsinki and St. Petersburg in 1999, in Vienna and Bratislava in 2001 and again in Copenhagen Denmark in 2003. Students will be involved in planning a student event to be held in Cyprus in 2005.
The Region is exploring the option of developing a legal body for IFSW Europe to enable it to receive funding from the European Union and other sources. To facilitate this a Regional constitution was approved in Copenhagen in 2003.
Social Work Action Day has become a major annual event for member organisations, aiming at increasing the visibility of the social work profession. The theme for 2003 was ‘Disability, Human Rights and Social Work’ linked with the European Year of People with Disabilities. 24 countries participated in some way, ranging from receptions with Ministers or Parliamentarians, to conferences, special issues of association magazines and material on websites. The theme for 2004 is ‘Violence and Trafficking – Social Workers against Exploitation’, linked with the UN Year against Slavery, and work by the Council of European on trafficking and violence.
IFSW Europe has been growing stronger and more active but faces an immense challenge with the rapid development of powerful European institutions and the reframing of the European social model.
LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN
The Latin America and Caribbean region continues to pose a series of important challenges within the region and across IFSW. The Executive members of the region have worked very hard to make contact with and support member organisations. At the same time they have worked to increase membership. Several factors have been identified for limited success. The Vice President for the region notes that these require in-depth analysis but remain significant impediments to real growth and participation for the region;
• Most organisations are undergoing a restructuring process or are paralysed by conditions of global change.
• Budget limitations make it impossible to hold regular meetings which would help sustain an acceptable regional dynamic.
• The economic crisis afflicting the majority of countries faced by the brunt of neo-liberal globalisation which is leading social workers into poverty and their organisations into a state of deterioration as they are no longer able to sustain themselves financially.
Member organisations have been consulted on the Ethics of Social Work and the
Global Standards for Social Work Training however no feedback on either was received by the regional office.
There has been a change in the leadership of the Associations in Cuba, Nicaragua and Argentina, and relations have been established with associations in Costa Rica and Honduras in view of their future membership in IFSW. There is now some clarity concerning the situation of the Chilean association.
The region has developed a draft work plan that will set the agenda for the coming 2 years. The plan is pending membership approval.
The draft plan aims to map the organisational situation of each member country; establish plans for each sub region and strengthen the relationships between schools of social work and IFSW in the region and between IFSW at the global and regional levels.
The North American region is made up of two large member organisations who work in a cooperative arrangement.
CASW and NASW-USA began a dialogue during the meetings in Geneva about the need to strengthen the IFSW North American Region and agreed to work together during the 2002-2004 reporting period to better represent IFSW and to strengthen bilateral collaborations as a way to address the social work issues that are common in the region.
NASW-USA and CASW increased communications over the reporting period through telephone conferences, visits to each other’s headquarters and joint meetings of the Executive Committees and Boards of Directors. These efforts culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding that established a framework for continued collaboration.
NASW-USA and CASW made various attempts to reach out to Mexico in an effort to assess their interest in joining and participating in IFSW and becoming active in the region. Initial positive responses from individuals did not result in an organizational response from associations of social workers in Mexico. The region is still hopeful that some involvement or expression of interest may be forthcoming.
The following priorities were identified by CASW and NASW-USA for the 2002-2004 period:
• Collaboration with and support of the IFSW New York Team
• Support for and responding to the IFSW Agenda
• Social work workforce issues
• Correction of poor Social Work Image
• Expansion of Social Work Cultural Competencies
• Increased effectiveness of NASW and CASW within the context of their own countries
• Exchange of respective policies on specific issues of mutual interest
• Collaborative approach to international actions
• Increased activities for member outreach and education
The Vice President North America has represented the IFSW (directly or through his role as President of the NASW) at a number of key meetings. These include but are not limited to;
• A meeting of leaders of civil society with the UN Secretary-General.
• The Annual United Nations Department of Public Information, Non Governmental Organizations (DPI/NGO) meeting in September, 2003,
• The National Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, USA,
• International Social Work Day at the United Nations. The focal topic was the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The region has also initiated work on the following important issues
• Call for the release of Phyllis Coard
• Support for the Government of Brazil’s Resolution on Non-Discrimination on any Grounds, including, sexual orientation. (see also report of the UN Team Geneva)
• International Response to the crisis in Dafur
• Abuse of prisoners in Iraq
• Rights of detainees in Guantanamo Bay
• Same Sex Marriage
The region has also worked to strengthen its relationships with key organisations including the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) – United States Committee
Web-based information has continued to expand. Importantly there has been an increase in the number of documents available in French & Spanish. Our thanks must be extended to out French and Spanish member organisations and to Ellen Mouravieff-Apostol who have provided much of the translation capacity.
A major development in the period has been the expansion of the IFSW web page. Increasingly, statements and documents are posted here to increase access to international social work not only for membership, but beyond. The web page is the most important vehicle for information about IFSW and will continue to be in the future. The Page has now been established with regional links that can be developed over time.
The ifsw news was an excellent magazine over the many years of its publication since 1958. It was distributed widely throughout the world and was IFSW’s most known publication. However the costs of publication and the effective delays in transmitting information compared to electronic versions led to the decision to cease publication from 2003.
To replace the newsletter IFSW committed itself to the publication of ifsw update 10-12 times per annum. As for other important information, affiliates receive emailed notices.
The ifsw update has been produced by the Communications Officer. It contains the very latest news from the IFSW and important information about work at the UN and other key organisations. This publication has received widespread positive feedback. It is replicated in a number of member organisations own publications, a strategy that greatly increases the dissemination of important information to much wider audiences. All Member organisations, Friends of IFSW and many other affiliates receive the ifsw update.
International Social Work Journal
The journal, published by Sage Publications on behalf of IFSW, IASSW and ICSW, continues to be our main scientific publication. Arabic abstracts have been introduced in addition to Chinese, English, French and Spanish. Since the late 1980’s the Journal has been under the steady and dedicated hand of Professor Frank Turner as Editor-in- Chief. In August 2004 Frank will finish his term in the role. He leaves behind a distinguished and highly regarded international Journal. Franks contribution to the Journal cannot be easily measured and will be honoured in the future by the presentation of the Frank Turner award for the best article published in the Journal Year.
Professor Karen Lyons of the United Kingdom will assume Frank’s role as Editor in Chief. Karen has been actively involved with the Journal for many years as the IFSW Representative. She also enjoys extensive experience in working with international journals.
In recognition of the increase in demand for the publication in the journal and the importance of representation from the Southern hemisphere, the owners have determined to appoint a Deputy Editor and Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul of South Africa has agreed to take up that post. Professor Sewpaul similarly has excellent Journal experience. She has also been most recently involved in chairing the working party into the document Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training.
They formally assume the roles in January 2005 but will be working with Frank Turner and Sage as part of the handover process.
Sub-Committee on Editorial and Publications
The Committee, headed by Tan Ngoh Tiong in Singapore, launched the first edition of the book series “Social Work Around the World” at the World Conference in Montreal in 2000. The second book was released at the General Meeting in Geneva. Social Work Around the World III will be released at the World Congress in Adelaide 2004.
Social Work and the Rights of the Child
In January 2002 IFSW released its most comprehensive publication to date, “Social Work and the Rights of the Child – A Professional Training Manual on the UN Convention”. The manual continues to provide stimulation and guidance to social workers and others who wish to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in their social work practice. Since Publication the manual has been translated into 3 languages (Chinese, French and Japanese) other than English. The IFSW wishes to publicly thanks all those who have been associated with this important task.
The Policy Committee’s main task is to develop the IFSW Policy Statements and ensure that the Federation has a contemporary, well-researched and articulate position on critical social issues. The Policy Statements represents the voice of social workers worldwide and reflects consensus that transcends cultural differences. The Policy Statements also form guidance to the development of national policies and a basis for cooperation with other organisations, for example IASSW, in formulating joint platforms for input and action.
The 12 current Policy Statements are
Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Migration, Older Persons, Protection of Personal Information, Refugees, Conditions in Rural Communities, Women, Youth, Peace & Social Justice and Displaced Persons.
The Policy Committee will at the General Meeting present two documents for approval:
1) Social Work and Globalisation (formerly called Neo-Liberal Discussion paper), 2) Indigenous People. The globalisation statement will include environmental issues.
For the period 2004-2006, policy statements on Children and Service Users are proposed. An ongoing task is to identify statements in need of revision as well as expansion of the topics covered.
All Policy Statements are available at the IFSW web-site.
COOPERATION WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS OF SOCIAL WORK (IASSW)
The relationship between practitioners and educators goes back to the forerunner of the IFSW, the International Permanent Secretariat of Social Workers, founded in Paris in 1928. Over the past 4 years both organisations have established a process to further strengthen our links.
At the Montreal 2000 World Conference an initial meeting of the Permanent Joint Planning and Action Committee occurred. This was followed in May 2001 by a very successful 2-day meeting in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish Association of Social Workers (DS). Further Meetings have been held in Montpellier in June 2002 and Denmark in May 2003. The next meeting is due to be held in conjunction with the Adelaide Conference.
The direct outcomes of these meetings include the release of a joint statement adopting the new definition of social work; the establishment of a joint Human Rights Committee; commitment to establish a joint Ethics process; development of the Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training and the finalisation of an agreement to hold joint conferences from 2010 onwards.
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL WELFARE (ICSW)
We are delighted to report that our links with ICSW have been re-established and together with IASSW we believe there is the foundation once more for excellent and co-operative working relationships.
The CEO of ICSW has visited our offices in Berne and the President of IFSW has visited their offices in London.
In May 2004 a meeting was held in London between the Presidents of the three organisations and the CEO’s of IFSW & ICSW. This busy and productive meting served to re-establish the working relationship between all three organisations and to a renewed level of strength.
SOCIAL WORK IN HEALTH & MENTAL HEALTH CONFERENCES
The development of practice specific conferences has been significant over the past decade. The World Conferences in Social Work in Health & Mental Health commenced in Jerusalem in 1996. This was followed by Melbourne in 1998 and Tampere in 2001 and the most recent in Quebec, 2004. The IFSW has leant its support to the organising group through promotion of the conferences and also via our presence as appropriate.
The organising group, known as a virtual secretariat, is in the process of considering the future of the conferences and the most appropriate structure for their group. The IFSW has been invited, together with IASSW, to be a part of these discussions. We have committed ourselves to proving information that may assist in their decision making.
These developments, do however, raise important issues for the IFSW to consider. At the present time we lack a formal method of linking with such groups. This, and other groups form an important part of the fabric of social work at an international level. Accordingly this General Meeting will be asked to consider options for inclusion of such groups should they wish to affiliate with the IFSW.
COMMONWEALTH ORGANISATION FOR SOCIAL WORK
The Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW) was established in Colombo in 1994 and seeks to represent social work principles, ethics and policies to the governments of the 52 Commonwealth member countries.
COSW continues to be particularly active at various Commonwealth forums on issues such as HIV/AIDS, health and mental health and were present at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in March 2002.
The IFSW has many members who are also allied to COSW and views this as an important organisation which endeavours to influence policy direction across the 52 member countries.
PUBLIC SERVICE INTERNATIONAL
An intention to continue contacts with Public Service International aiming at co-operation in the areas of social policy, social services and working conditions of social workers in the public sector has due to administrative constraints not been realised.
CONGO (Conference of NGO’s) consists of Organisations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, and has more than 400 NGO’s in membership. At the General Assembly of CONGO in Vienna in November 2000, IFSW was elected a Board Member for 2000-2003 and later also designated as an organisational Vice President. The tasks linked to this position are shared between the Secretariat and the main representatives to the UN in Geneva and New York. CONGO’s main role is to facilitate access to and dialogue with the United Nations on behalf of the international NGO community, and to provide training for NGO’s on how civil society can interact with the UN. At the General Assembly of CONGO in Geneva 2003 IFSW was re-elected to the Board for the period 2003-2006, and re-nominated as Vice President. However, we voluntarily agreed to refrain from the position in favour of a group with strong African links and now function as an ordinary Board Member. A major task for CONGO is this period is to give voice to civil society and defend its role in the UN.
The position enables IFSW to better profile social work both in relation to UN and its bodies and to a wide range of other national, regional and international NGO’s.
The IFSW secretariat is located in Berne, Switzerland. The office premises and the cooperation with the Swiss member organisation continues to serve the Federation well. The relocation from Oslo to Berne in 1999 has provided easier access to the United Nations and other international bodies based in Geneva.
The staff consist of a Secretary General (Tom Johannesen) in full time position with a contract renewed until August 31, 2006, and a Communications Officer (Lisbeth Mattsson), formally working in a 80 % position, but in reality has been working full time since arrival in Berne. Her contract will be reviewed August 31, 2004. Performance evaluations are conducted for both positions and are due to be undertaken. An accountant (Marlies Schneider) has been contracted.
The present level of staffing remains inadequate to meet the demands placed on the secretariat. However this situation must be balanced against available resources. This will be a significant challenge for the Personnel Committee and Finance Committee in the coming period.
The concrete tasks performed in the Secretariat are reflected throughout the Biennial Report, and therefore not dealt with here.
Ellen Mouravieff-Apostol, Main representative
UN, New York
Michel S. Cronin, Main representative
Monika Vyslouzil, Main representative
UN, Nairobi (accreditation being finalised)
Mr Charles Mbugua, Main representative
Terry Bamford, United Kingdom
Sage Publications, London:
Karen Lyons, United Kingdom
Eugenia Moreno, Canada, Evelyn Balais Serrano, Philippines, Eila Malmström, Finland
Suzanne Dworak-Peck, USA
Immediate Past President:
Elis Envall, Sweden
Michael Cronin remains as the Main UN Representative in New York. Three other representatives continue to serve on the team, Dr. Robin Mama, Dr. Elaine Congress and Ms. Marcia Wallace. Two graduate social work interns, Ms. Rebecca Marlis (USA) from the Columbia University School of Social Work and Mr. Patrick Ettampola (Sri Lanka) from the Hunter College School of Social Work have assisted the team from September 2003 through May 2004. Mr. David Roth continues to provide assistance to the New York team as an ex-officio.
Commission for Social Development
Key areas of work undertaken or monitored during the past 2 years by the UN New York team include:
• The 41st session (New York, February 10-21, 2003), of the Commission for Social Development which considered two topics namely the priority theme “National and International Cooperation for Social Development”; and the review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups.
• The Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family (1994) IFSW has participated in several activities to promote the Tenth Anniversary. Social Work Day at the UN 2003 had been dedicated as a preparatory activity. The New York team has also collaborated on a side event during the annual DPI NGO Conference, which was held in September 2003.
The 42nd session of the Commission for Social Development held in New York from February 4-14, 2004, focused on improving public sector effectiveness, as well as issues related to migration, aging, people with disabilities, the family, and the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. IFSW delivered a statement calling attention to the need for respecting ethics and human rights, involving citizens in decision-making processes through participatory models, and building partnerships with civil society, as a means of improving public sector effectiveness. Another statement was submitted in collaboration with several other NGOs which addressed crucial issues affecting families.
Status of Women
The 47th session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at UN Headquarters in New York on March 3-14, 2003. The session focused on two main issues: participation and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies; and women’s rights and the elimination of violence against women and girls.
The 48th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held from March 1 – 12, 2004 at the UN Headquarters in New York. The session focused on two main themes led to the adoption of agreed conclusion concerning: The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality and women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and resolution and in post-conflict peace-building efforts. The IFSW and IASSW co-hosted a dynamic roundtable discussion during this Session, entitled, “Applying Human Rights Concepts to the Real World of Practice” which was attended by 30 participants representing 12 nations.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues serves as an advisory body to ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues within the areas of expertise of the Council relating to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.
The second session of the Forum was held from 12 to 23 May 2003 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The theme for the session was “Indigenous Children and Youth”.
The third session of the Permanent Forum which took place from 10 to 21 May 2004 at the UN Headquarters in New York. The special theme of the third session of the Permanent Forum was “Indigenous Women”. IFSW New York team members together with the Honorary Treasurer have developed a draft policy for consideration at the 2004 General Meeting
Collaboration with International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW)
The New York Representative Teams of IFSW and IASSW have agreed to collaborate on activities and join forces on selected advocacy efforts at the UN Headquarters in New York. The teams have created a joint planning committee for Social Work Day at the UN-NY and conducted a human rights workshop at the 56th Annual DPI (Department of Public Information) /NGO Conference in September 2003.
The 21st Annual Social Work Day at the United Nations-New York was held on April 14, 2004 co-sponsored by IFSW and IASSW, and supported by NASW and others. The theme was “The UN Millennium Agenda for Children and Families”, which focused on three of the UN Millennium Development Goals – eradicating poverty and hunger, gender issues and human rights, and health (specifically HIV/AIDS).
Latin American & Caribbean Seminar on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) & Resource Development Santiago, Chile
The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CONGO) sponsored a Latin American and Caribbean Seminar held in June 2004 The primary objectives of the Seminar were to build organizations’ capacities to effectively achieve the United Nations MDGs, to provide a space for innovative partnership between the UN, governments, the private sector, and civil society; and to educate NGOs on the UN and how to effectively partner with the UN. Rebecca Marlis, IFSW intern, was a co-facilitator, raised funds for the seminar, developed and conducted a needs assessment to tailor content to the needs of the participants, and implementation of the Seminar.
Ageing & the Millennium Development Goals
The Madrid International Plan of Action adopted by member states during the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002 focuses on three priority areas: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring and enabling supportive environments. It is a resource for policymaking, suggesting ways for governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others to reorient the ways in which their societies perceive, interact with and care for their older citizens.
IFSW in collaboration with other NGOs will focus its efforts in influencing the UN agenda on the importance of the link between the Madrid International Plan of Action with the MDGs.
The Geneva team is much smaller than its New York counterpart. The main representative is Ellen Mouravieff-Apostol and is supported by the Communications Officer, Lisbeth Mattson. The offer of possible representational duties at the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees from a French social worker living and working in France has unfortunately not materialised as yet.
Despite these limitations the Geneva team has undertaken a great deal of work in key areas and continues to represent IFSW at a very high standard.
IFSW was represented at the 59th and 60th session of the yearly Commission on Human Rights. Without a statement of its own in 2003, IFSW joined other NGOs in collective statements on matters of child rights and child participation, extreme poverty, the effective functioning of human rights mechanisms and on the right to education. This year, unfortunately, the statement approved by the Federation’s Secretary General, the Chair of its Human Rights Commission and NASW in support of a Brazilian Resolution calling on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to carry out a study of possible human rights violations committed on grounds of sexual orientation could not be delivered as the resolution was withdrawn by the Brazilian delegation.
The 60th session of the Commission, achieved the miracle of managing to keep to its timetable without costly recourse to night sessions. On the political side, however, it was the usual story of a not very even-handed distribution of country naming & shaming resolutions whose success or failure depended on the support given by regional groups and the number of their countries’ votes.
Child participation is ‘the flavour of the moment’, and nothing can be done without it which is right but should not be exaggerated.
Ellen Mouravieff-Apostol is very much engaged in a (voluntary) NGO Advisory Board for the UN Study on Violence against Children headed by Prof. Paulo Pinheiro who is also the Commission on Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur for Myanmar as well as a lecturer at Brown’s College in the US and the Sorbonne in Paris. The preparatory work is highly interesting, and our Main representative has been vocal about the nefarious consequences of emotional violence, e.g. humiliations, verbal aggression on the one side, and neglect on the other. It is noted that many other organisations appear to prefer to address physical violence committed against children rather than facing the psychological harm inflicted by either commission or omission.
Our main representative has been privileged in 2003 and 2004 to continue to contribute to the development of birth registration campaigns in West Africa, and to participate in the preparations for a working conference on the subject in South-East Africa in 2005.
Poverty & Extreme Poverty
Poverty, Extreme Poverty and Rural Poverty was the theme of this year’s Social Forum, 22/23 July 2004. It will be taken up again by the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, July 22 – August 13, 2004 where IFSW presented a statement.
The main UN activities in Nairobi of interest to our profession are environment and urbanisation. We have for a year worked on establishing formal connections, which has shown to meet with unforeseen bureaucratic obstacles. A team has been set up headed by Charles Mbugua. We hope to settle the representation soon.
The UN programs left in Vienna of specific interest to social work are crime prevention and drug control. While still formally maintaining our representation in Vienna, we are faced with the situation that we need to activate our work with the UN and recruit new representatives. Work is ongoing with the Austrian association to find candidates, but no settlement has been reached yet.
Human Rights Commission
Secretary: Elis Envall
Ng Shui Lai, Commissioner Asia & Pacific (alternate vacant)
Marilynn Moch, Commissioner North America
Carmen Mormeneo Cortes, Commissioner Europe
Mathilde Quintero Valencia, Commissioner Latin America and Caribbean
Alexander P Noah, Commissioner Africa
Gayle Gilchrist James, Alternate Commissioner North America
Ruth Stark, Alternate Commissioner Europe
Lea Braga, Alternate Commissioner Latin America and Caribbean
John Nyoike, Alternate Commissioner Africa
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) experienced a period of nearly 12 months during which there was no leadership. The planned transition of leadership to and cooperation/coordination with IASSW could not be undertaken due to resource constraints and timing issues. The desire to continue working on a cooperative basis and to fully implement a Joint Committee remains intact.
In May 2003 Elis Envall took up the role of Secretary for the IFSW. The most important task since that time has been to re-establish the communication within the HRC. This has proven to be very difficult despite the best endeavours of the Secretary. In some regions the structural difficulties are overwhelming, mainly regarding resources and communication.
The level and type of activities in the five regions vary greatly. Some activity in individual cases has taken place although this has been limited during the period
The functioning of the HRC during this period has been comparatively weak. It has only been in the past 12 months that we have been able to re-establish links with regional representatives. The level of response from the representatives has, in general been disappointing. This leads us to consider whether structure with regional representatives is the most effective and valuable way to uphold our commitment to human rights. A proposal for changes has been drafted for discussion at the General Meeting 2004.
Members of the committee
Europe: Arne Grønningsæter (secretary), Jorunn Vindegg (alternate)
Africa: Charles Tuhaise (member), Govindlall Dewkurum (alternate)
Asia and Pacific: Richard Hugman (member), Robyn Corrigan (alternate)
Latin America: Gilma Mendez Hermandez (member), Rodolfo Martinez (alternate)
North America: Elaine Congress (member), Gail MacDougall (alternate)
Norwegian Support Group,
Jorunn Vindegg, Bente Moseng & Maj Brit Lund Boumarouani
Bente Moseng, Sarah Banks, Richard Hugman and Arne Grønningsæter.
Review of IFSW’s ethical document
The most important task of the committee has been the development of a new ethical document for the profession. There has been a thorough hearing consultation process, involving both the IFSW and representatives of IASSW in three rounds of feedback. Many member associations participated in the consultation process and more than 30 comments and suggestions were received.
A broad level of support for the contents and format of the document was evident through comments and the level of participation in this process has hopefully lead to a document that can unite social workers around the world on basic ethical issues. Thoughtful consideration and debate will always be a feature of this topic.
Co-operation with the IASSW
There is a proposal to formally establish a Joint IFSW and IASSW Committee on Ethics. A formal proposal including proposed structure is due to be discussed at the 2004 General Meetings of both organisations.
Other issues on the action plan.
The Norwegian secretariat group has commenced the development a plan for a web site on ethical issues in social work. This will serve to establish a clearinghouse for the use of the national associations in their work on ethics
Ethical issues are important in the work of the IFSW. The adoption of a new document will contribute to increased consciousness about ethical issues among social workers around the world and in the member organisations of the IFSW. The review process will be ongoing as such documents are dynamic in nature. The challenge is to find new ways to promote international exchange about ethical issues. A closer co-operation between the IASSW and the IFSW can be a step forward in this work, and would give new opportunities for presenting the international ethical documents to students in social work.
Human rights have faced huge challenges in the two years since the last General Meeting. The events of September 11th 2001 in the USA have transformed the nature of the human rights dialogue throughout the world. International human rights standards continued to be flouted in the name of the “war on terror”, resulting in thousands of women and men suffering unlawful detention, unfair trial and torture – often solely because of their ethnic or religious background. The level of spending on arms continued to grow while around the world, more than a billion people’s lives were ruined by extreme poverty and social injustice.
Amnesty International (AI) mobilizes volunteer activists – people who give freely of their time and energy in solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses. AI has a varied network of members and supporters around the world. At the latest count there were more than 1.8 million members, supporters and subscribers in over 150 countries and territories in every region of the world. AI members come from many different backgrounds, with widely different political and religious beliefs, united by a determination to work for a world where everyone enjoys human rights.
• campaigns for an end to political killings and “disappearances”.
• opposes without reservation the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
• campaigns for perpetrators of human rights abuses to be brought to justice.
• seeks the release of prisoners of conscience. These are people detained for their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs or because of their ethnic origin, sex, colour, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth or other status – who have not used or advocated violence.
• works for fair and prompt trials for political prisoners.
• campaigns for an end to violence against women.
• opposes certain grave abuses of economic, social and cultural rights.
• seeks to persuade companies and economic institutions to respect and promote human rights.
• opposes abuses by non-state actors where the state has failed to fulfil its obligations to provide effective protection.
• works against grave abuses of the right to freedom from discrimination.
• seeks to assist asylum-seekers who are at risk of being returned to a country where they might suffer serious abuses of their human rights.
• calls on governments to refrain from unlawful killings in armed conflict.
• calls on armed political groups to end abuses such as the detention of prisoners of conscience, hostage-taking, torture and unlawful killings.
• campaigns for an end to the use of child soldiers.
Strategically AI is engaging more widely with the issues of economic social and cultural rights and is linking with alliances of human rights defenders especially on a regional and international level.
The values which AI represents are under threat from the power of national governments and of multinational corporations. The need for activism is greater than ever before as silence is taken for assent as freedoms are eroded and the grotesque imbalance in global expenditure on arms and development grows wider.
IFSW shares many of the values of Amnesty. Working in alliance represents the most effective way of defending the structures of the UN.
At the General Meeting 1994, the outgoing IFSW President, Suzanne Dworak-Peck, was appointed IFSW Ambassador. A Role Description was approved in 1996. The appointment is for two years at the time, and has been renewed at subsequent General Meetings. The main idea is to make use of the networks and expertise of experienced IFSW leaders by appointing persons with an in-depth understanding of and experience with IFSW as Ambassadors, and that they through special assignments can continue to serve IFSW.
In the period from 2002 to date, she has continued to serve IFSW by representing us in several meetings and conferences, providing information and public relations via media, workshops etc., promoting the IFSW Friends program and consulting with the IFSW leadership. Some of the tasks performed are carried out “behind the scenes” or in a less visible manner. She has also executed special tasks on request, as a member of the Sub-Committee on Structure and Operations.
The Ambassador is doing an important job for IFSW, and at no expense to the Federation. Her function should be brought forward.
Since the General Meeting 2002 the IFSW with national host associations has only been involved in one major conference:
European Seminar, 26 -29 May, 2003, Copenhagen, Denmark
“Social Work in Future Europe”
As noted earlier the planned Asia & Pacific Regional Conference was cancelled as a direct result of the SARS epidemic.
Global Standards in Social Work Education and Training
As an expansion of the joint work on the Definition of Social Work, IASSW and IFSW are have been working on developing global standards for social work education and training. A committee, headed by Prof. Vishantie Sewpaul, South Africa on behalf of IASSW and vice chaired by David Jones, United Kingdom from IFSW has completed its work. A comprehensive document has already been circulated discussion, amended and prepared for final approval at the General Meeting in 2004.
Social Work and the Rights of the Child
As presented under “Publications” the professional training manual on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Social Work was published in January 2002. This is the most comprehensive publication of IFSW ever, and the challenge ahead is to make it known to a global social work audience and stimulate its use in social work curricula and training.
The manual has been translated into French, Japanese and Chinese. IFSW relies on member organisations and others to make sure that the material is spread around the world.
The project is financed by the Swiss (Government) Agency for development and Cooperation, and has been in operation since 1997. It is aimed at training social work practitioners and educators in Ukraine and conducted in close cooperation with the Christian Children’s Fund. Ellen Mouravieff-Apostol is responsible from IFSW, and has been visiting Ukraine on a regular basis throughout the projject period.
Friends of IFSW
The Friends of IFSW program is continuing to be successful. Since the last report in 2002, it has grown from 1082 to 1230 affiliations in total registration since it was created and with a total of 75 different countries represented. The gross historical income per Friend is over 190.00 Swiss Francs.
Many of the most faithful Friends over time have changed their registration into Life Friend, following an offer to have their previous payments credited. North America continues to be the country with most Friends (532, of which USA alone 480), but this last period has also seen a growth in the other regions with Europe now at 344 and Asia-Pacific at 306, of which almost 1/3 in Australia alone. The figure for Africa and Latin America and Caribbean remains modest.
An expanded cooperation with the British Association is being prepared to join efforts in marketing and administering the program in the UK. Other member organisations are invited to join in.
Social Work Day
We have continued to work on the establishment of a Global Social Work Day. A discussion paper has been prepared for the 2004 General Meeting.
IFSW Presence in the Gulf
IFSW has continued its involvement with the social worker organisations in the Gulf area. The Vice President Asia & Pacific and the Communications Officer participated in the biennial conference in 2003, this time in the Bahrain.
United Nations documents
Our previous service to send country documents to member organisations has been discontinued and information presented on how to find documents on the UN web-sites.