Ethics & Social Work

For an excellent resource on the issues facing social workers internationally, see International Perspectives on Social Work by Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, and Mary Carlsen.  Here is a link to the book.

See below for the “Statement of Ethical Principles” from the website of the International Federation of Social Workers:

“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 the work of IASSW and IFSW 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 Meetings in Montreal, Canada in July 2000 and then agreed jointly 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.”

Click here for the full text.