Translators, Advocates or Practitioners? Social Workers and Human Rights Localization

Authors Alicia Dibbets, Quirine Eijkman
Published in Journal of Human Rights Practice
Publication date 2018
Type Article


The importance of specific professions for human rights realization is increasingly recognized. Journalists, teachers, and civil servants are all considered to play a role because their work affects individual rights. This is also the case for social workers. The connection between social work and human rights is evident in the large amount of literature explaining how human rights relate to social work. At the same time there is more attention for human rights localization. These fields of knowledge are related: social workers are local professionals and if they start applying human rights in their work this may influence human rights localization. This article contributes to existing debates on human rights localization by reflecting on the potential role of social workers in local human rights efforts in the Netherlands. Since human rights localization in general and human rights application in social work are recent phenomena in the Netherlands this provides a useful case study for a qualitative analysis on whether and how social workers can be regarded as actors in human rights localization. By connecting different actors that are said to play a role in human rights localization to proposed forms of human rights application by social workers this article identifies three possible roles for social workers in human rights localization: as human rights translators, as human rights advocates, and as human rights practitioners.

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Language English
Published in Journal of Human Rights Practice
Year and volume 10 2
Key words social workers, human rights
Page range 212-218