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Chilcot: Social workers must remain active against human rights abuses says BASW CEO

As Sir John Chilcot’s long awaited report of the Iraq Inquiry concludes that “the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted”, BASW Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen says social workers must remain active against human rights abuses as part of a global profession.

Commenting on the report findings, Dr Allen said: “The Chilcot report shines a damning spotlight on the parliamentary decisions that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent military actions. Hundreds of British citizens and at least 150,000 Iraqis died. Many more were injured and disabled. Over a million Iraqi people became homeless. Many if the roots of our current refugee crisis and the conflicts in the Middle East lie in that US and UK invasion of Iraq.

“In February 2003, I was one of over a million people who joined the largest protest in UK history to march through London in opposition to the Iraq invasion. I was working in an inner city Borough with a large Muslim population at the time and myself and my colleagues viewed this military action as likely to have a negative influence on local relations between people from different cultural backgrounds. Many saw it as a western power attacking a Middle East country without a proper international mandate. This was not even a very radical view, there was an outpouring of concern from all walks of life realising that war would beget more war and human suffering.

“As social workers many of us work every day with the human consequences of conflict, displacement, physical and mental trauma. As part of an international profession, we need to be concerned and active against human rights and social justice abuses wherever they happen. We welcome the Chilcot report’s clarity about the failure of decision making in parliament and the human consequences of that. As social workers we should be active and outspoken in holding our political leaders to account and we should recognise how such actions on the world stage can have direct relationship to the social and health needs we deal with in practice”.