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Article

International Social Welfare: Overview  

James Midgley, Elise Verdooner, and Murali Nair

The term international social welfare is used to refer both to social welfare policies and programs around the world and to the academic study of international social welfare activities. The entry focuses on the latter meaning and provides an overview of the evolution of scholarly inquiry into international social welfare, the key topics that have been identified and discussed by international social welfare scholars, opportunities for diverse global social welfare opportunities, the likely future development of the field and annotated web-based information about organizations active in this area.

Article

International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW)  

Abye Tasse

This entry describes the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and explores challenges facing the organization. Founded in 1928, the IASSW is the worldwide organization representing social work education. Comprising member schools and individuals across six continents, it works, in spite of funding and voluntary leadership challenges, to create a globally inclusive organization, promote international exchange, and extend the influence of social work education at the United Nations and with other regional and international bodies.

Article

Global Development Actors (Public, Private, Corporate)  

Smitha Rao, Javier Reyes-Martinez, and Carlos Andrade-Guzmán

The global development landscape has witnessed a transformation with previously held development roles and priorities changing and increasingly overlapping with others. This is compounded by the intersection of emergent challenges, such as the climate crisis and economic downturn, that create additional inequities, making the landscape increasingly complex to navigate. The social work profession has actively engaged with international entities through service provision, education, and advocacy. Social workers have historically recommended actions or changes on behalf of individuals, communities, and groups, guided by principles of social justice, dignity, and worth of each person, as well as the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence while interfacing with development efforts in multiple other ways. Development as a topic on a global scale emerged in response to evolving conceptualizations beyond the idea of development as growth alone. For instance, originating from development economics and initially focused on modernizing new nation-states at the end of colonialism, social development aimed to achieve economic growth as the primary means of development. Practice and scholarship on development have also moved from an “international development” framework to a “global development” framing to highlight the interdependence among various societal actors rather than a linear pathway. Finally, sustainable development and its derivative, sustainability, have become central components of the current developmental discourse due to their commitment to addressing the present needs without jeopardizing future generations’ capacity to fulfill their own. To understand this complex landscape better, it is important to identify the various actors in global development and the differential goals, strengths, and constraints they bring to the table. The public sector is the traditional source of funding and action for global development projects worldwide, with governments at all levels playing a central role in resource provision, policy setting, and program implementation. The private sector, encompassing nongovernmental organizations, civil society and community-based organizations, philanthropic foundations and entities, and social entrepreneurs focused on social initiatives, has increasingly become involved in global development. Relatedly, the corporate sector, too, has emerged as a key player with a different structure and access to infrastructural and other resources. With individual strengths and constraints, these global development actors play specific roles and often collaborate to address social and developmental causes. At the same time, important complexities and shortcomings across these sectors need to be taken into cognizance to ensure continued efforts toward global development. The global development landscape offers numerous prospects for social workers to apply their knowledge and professional expertise. An understanding of this landscape equips social workers in developing a holistic approach to cross-sectoral development initiatives.

Article

Global Health  

Jessica Euna Lee

Within its 150-year history, public health has grown from a focus on local communities to include countrywide, then international, and now global perspectives. Drawing upon the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this article provides an overview of global public health within the broadest possible context of the world and all of its peoples. Also provided are the global burden of disease as measured in disability-adjusted life years, global health statistics, current health priorities, and recommendations for action by social workers and other health professionals.

Article

International Social Work: Overview  

Lynne M. Healy

This article presents an overview of definitions of international social work, relevant theories, the history of the field, and current practice roles. Definitional debates and critiques of international social work are discussed, as the term international social work has been a contested one. Scholars have defined international social work variously as a specialized area of practice, as the integrated global profession, as the exchange of people and ideas across borders, and as a more general perspective or worldview. The concluding section highlights some of the current challenges facing the field: developing relevant career tracks in international social work, strengthening representation of the profession at the global level, specifying the universal elements of social work, and continuing to clarify the concept of international social work.

Article

International Community Practice  

Cindy Sousa and Tamarah Moss

As social work continues the ongoing work of developing frameworks for community practice, globalization and the increase in multicultural societies make urgent the need to consult international models. Community practice must center attention on building and sustaining relationships; determining who defines need and who controls the practices within the social work cycle of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation; and maintaining community-centered practices that grapple with power dynamics in terms of status, resources, and culture. A learning approach is needed within international social work collaborations, characterized by an ethics of respect for sovereignty, cultural integrity, and the ways historical, political, cultural, and sociocultural contexts inform practice. Solidarity, authentic collaboration, and a respect for individual and collective autonomy and grassroots power are key features of community practice in international settings. The goal of the comparative perspective is for social workers to be better able to apply an international perspective to the building of theory and practice modalities within community practice.

Article

Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development  

David N. Jones and Rory Truell

The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development (“The Agenda”) was launched in 2010 by the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the International Council on Social Welfare, and the International Federation of Social Workers. It is a global process and platform that promotes human dignity and social justice in a “socially just world” based on the professional values, understandings, and principles of social work and community development. The first decade of the Agenda had a significant impact on the international social work community, with implications for social work practice, alongside the increasing global concerns about inequality and environmental sustainability. The evolution of The Agenda into its second decade includes the formal expansion of the partnerships to include service users and others, alongside alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Article

Peace  

Charles D. Cowger

This entry discusses the relationship of war and peace to social work practice. The historic and current mandate for social workers to work for peace is presented. The inevitable tie of war to everyday social work practice is described, and the relationship between social justice and peace is illustrated.

Article

Affordable Housing: An International Perspective  

Bonnie Young Laing

This entry explores key definitions, causes, and characteristics of slums in the global arena, along with the types of social work practice and general community development approaches being used to catalyze action to decrease the prevalence of slums. Core strategies include using planning efforts that prioritize input from people who live in slums, creating affordable housing, and otherwise transitioning urban slums into vibrant communities. Concluding thoughts and further considerations for social work practice are offered.

Article

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)  

Nigel Hall

The International Federation of Social Workers is an international organization representing the interests of social workers around the world. This organization works in cooperation with global regional social work bodies, national organizations, and other associations to organize international events, publish policy statements, encourage cooperative initiatives, and link to other international bodies. It is active in human rights and social development and in the promotion of best practices and high professional social work standards.

Article

Global Community Practice  

Manohar Pawar and Marie Weil

This article presents an integrated perspective and framework for global practice toward achieving the Global Agenda developed by international social work organizations. First, it presents “global practice” as a progressive, comprehensive, and future-oriented term that encompasses social work and social, economic, and sustainable development at multiple levels: local, national, regional, international, multinational, and global. Second, it discusses the origin and 21st-century understanding of the Global Agenda for social work. Third, it deliberates on ways of moving forward on the Global Agenda at multiple levels through an integrated perspectives framework consisting of global, ecological, human rights, and social development perspectives to guide practice. Finally, it concludes that global practice and the Global Agenda need to be translated into local-level social work and development practice and local-level agendas, making a case for social work and sustainable social development leadership and practice at grassroots and national levels.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: Europe  

David N. Jones

Europe includes not only some of the most economically and socially developed countries in the world but also some of the poorest. Social work as a profession has been well established for over 100 years within a variety of social welfare models; the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have re-established social work since the 1990s. The financial crisis of 2007/2008 and its aftermath, followed by the challenges of migration from war zones and Africa, have had a significant impact on the politics and social policy of the region and the resources available for social services and social work in most countries. These events are provoking a re-evaluation of the European Social Model. Some argue that they have also fueled the rise in electoral support for far right, nationalist, anti-immigration, and populist parties, seen also in other continents. The decision of the United Kingdom to break away from the EU, following a referendum in 2016, and the increase in support for anti-EU parties in other countries are having a profound social and political impact across the region.

Article

Social Work and the United Nations  

Robin S. Mama

The profession of social work has a long and rich history of participating in and influencing the work of the United Nations and its affiliate agencies, almost since the inception of the institution. This history includes not only the work of social work or social welfare organizations as accredited nongovernmental organizations, but also of individual social workers who were trailblazers in the field of international work. The founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945 played a key role in establishing what has come to be a formal relationship between civil society and the United Nations. Article 71 of the United Nations Charter cemented this relationship by allowing the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to make consultative arrangements with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (United Nations, 2003). The number of NGOs at the founding conference numbered 1,200; at present there are 3,900 NGOs that have consultative status with ECOSOC (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2014). Three of the leading social work organizations that have consultative status with the United Nations are: International Association of Schools of Social Work (received consultative status in 1947), International Federation of Social Workers—(received consultative status in 1959), and International Council on Social Welfare (received consultative status in 1972).

Article

Radical Social Work  

Mary Bricker-Jenkins, Rosemary Barbera, and Barbara Hunter-Randall Joseph

Since the beginning of the profession, radical social work has avowed a commitment to practice dedicated to advancing human rights and social and economic justice. Since the 1980s, the rise of neoliberal global capitalism has vitiated support for robust social welfare programs; its conservatizing effect on the profession has rendered the radical agenda both more urgent and more difficult. Ensuing polarization in the economic, social, and political arenas has been mirrored in the profession as well: differences widen between the micro and macro realms and privatization engulfs the public welfare arena; the epistemological bases of knowledge and prevailing theories form competing camps; the entire project of social work for social welfare is challenged as Eurocentric and implicitly white supremacist. Radical social work has responded to these challenges with innovation and energy, deriving insight from and participating in spontaneous uprisings and resistance, while engaging theoretical and practical conundrums.

Article

Human Rights Overview  

Joseph M. Wronka

At the heart of social work, human rights is a set of interdependent and indivisible guiding principles with implications for meta-macro (global), macro (whole population), mezzo (at risk), micro (clinical), meta-micro (everyday life), and research interventions to eradicate social malaise and promote well-being. Human rights can be best understood vis-à-vis the UN Human Rights Triptych. This consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, increasingly referred to as customary international law; the guiding principles, declarations, and conventions following it, such as the Guiding Principles to Eradicate Extreme Poverty, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and implementation mechanisms, such as the filing of country reports on compliance to conventions, the Universal Periodic Review, thematic and country reports by special rapporteurs, and world conferences. This powerful idea, which emerged from the ashes of World War II, emphasizes five crucial notions: human dignity; nondiscrimination; civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and solidarity rights. The hope is that every person, everywhere, will have their human rights realized. Only chosen values endure. The challenge is the creation of a human rights culture, which is a lived awareness of these principles in one’s mind, spirit, and body, integrated into our everyday lives. Doing so will require vision, courage, hope, humility, and everlasting love, as the Indigenous spiritual leader Crazy Horse reminded us.

Article

Community Healing and Reconciliation  

Joshua Kirven and George Jacinto

Community healing and reconciliation have been a focus of many nations in response to civil war, genocide, and other conflicts. There also has been an increase in the number of high-profile murders of young African Americans at the hands of law enforcement in the United States. In 2020 this problem was even more real and growing with the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Ahmaud Arbery. These tragic incidents have led to public outcry, civil unrest, and police protests for social change moving from a threshold of peaceful assemblies to violent confrontations across the United States causing the world to take notice and posit the question, “do Black lives really matter?” To answer this question a critical overview of gun violence, a reflective aftermath of the killings of two African American youths in Sanford, Florida and Cleveland, Ohio, and the community’s voice and reaction and the community’s resiliency towards healing and reconciliation are examined. Community model initiatives are introduced of the two cities affected in bridging police-community relations through acknowledging and addressing historical injustices with police and systematic racism and how they attempted to bring positive change, healing and reconciliation.

Article

International Council on Social Welfare  

Sergei Zelenev

The International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) focused on advocacy, knowledge-building, and technical assistance projects in various areas of social development carried out at the country level and internationally. Created in 1928 in Paris to address the complexities and challenges of social work, the ICSW has evolved through the years to embrace the major issues of social development, becoming a global organization committed to improving human well-being. Establishing common ground on issues of international significance and acting with partners through its nine regional networks, ICSW represents national and local organizations in more than 70 countries throughout the world. Membership also includes major international organizations. By virtue of its constitution, it operates as a democratic and accountable organization.