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International Federation of Social Workers

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Title: International Federation of Social Workers  
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Subject: Social work, Australian Association of Social Workers, Personal practice model (social work), Council on Social Work Education, International Social Work
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International Federation of Social Workers

IFSW President Gary Bailey

The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) is the world-wide body for professional social work. It comprises 90 professional social work associations representing over 750,000 social workers. IFSW has formal consultative status with the United Nations and other global bodies. The organisation’s purpose is to contribute to achieving a social just world through professional social work. IFSW and its partners set and review the international standards of social work, the Definition of Social Work and policies that promote good practice outcomes.

The current president of IFSW is Professor Gary Bailey from Simmons College, Boston, USA.


IFSW’s beginnings date from the early part of the 20th century: at the First International Conference on Social Work held in Paris in 1928, it was agreed an International Association of Social Workers be formed.[1] At the Second International Conference on Social Work held in Frankfurt in 1932, provisional statutes of the International Permanent Secretariat of Social Workers (IPSSW) were agreed by eight founding members: Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. IPSSW was initially based in Berlin.

At the Fifth International Conference on Social Work held in Paris in 1950, an agreement to form a new body was approved provided that seven national bodies became members – achieved in 1956 when the International Federation of Social Workers was formed in Munich. A new Secretariat was established in New York, sharing offices with the National Association of Social Workers.

In 1958, IFSW with its partners published the journal International Social Work. A further point of development was in 1959 when IFSW was granted consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

IFSW policy role was expanded in 1960 after the Special Session at the 10th World Conference in Rome and in 1963 when IFSW asked to contribute to UN survey on international training for social workers. IFSW started to regionalise and the first region to be formed was Europe in 1965. This was followed by a Regional Conference for Asia in 1967.

In 1970, the South African member of IFSW was suspended due to its participation in the Apartheid regime. The 1980s saw the development of the global definition of social workers and IFSW was declared a "Peace Messenger" by the United Nations in 1985. In the 1990s, IFSW expanded its membership to over 80 member associations.

At the beginning of the 21st century, IFSW developed a training manual, Social Work and the Rights of the Child.[2] In co-operation with the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), the global Definition of Social Work[3] was adopted in 2001. In 2004, the co-operation continued with the joint publications of the Statement of Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles[4] and the Global Standards for the Education and Training of the Social Work Profession.[5] In 2005, IFSW consultative status was extended to UN Habitat. Additionally, IFSW has since achieved consultative status with the World Health Organization (WHO) and now comprises ninety member associations representing over 750,000 social workers.

In 2010, IFSW at a joint conference with the International Association of Schools of Social Work and the International Council on Social Welfare launched the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.[6] This tripartite agreement commits to working together to promote social justice, social development and sustainable systems of well-being. After two years of global consultation, the specific objectives of the agenda will be published on UN Social Work Day 2012.

IFSW Secretary-General Dr. Rory Truell

IFSW organisational structure

Every two years at a General Meeting of members an international Executive Committee is democratically elected. This committee consists of a President, Treasurer and Regional President and Member-at-Large for each Region. The six regions are Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America.

A permanent Secretariat has been established since 1956 which is currently based in Switzerland. Dr. Rory Truell is the current IFSW Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links

  • International Federation of Social Workers(IFSW)
  • International Association of Schools of Social Work
  • International Council on Social Welfare
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