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BASW’s international committee plays key role in influencing social work policy in the Commonwealth

Working with the Informal Forum of Commonwealth Organisations (IFCO), BASW was pleased to play a key role in drafting policy proposals submitted to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in London in last month (CHOGM 2018), as the local partner of the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW).

The IFCO submission tackles several global issues, such as fair access to economic resources and promotion of women’s rights, especially the need to tackle gender-based violence, as well as sustainable development, climate change and ensuring a safe and secure environment for all.

BASW welcomes many elements of the response in the CHOGM communiqué and the inclusive approach to the involvement of civil society which was demonstrated by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the British government. 

Recognition of the link between fairness, equity and democracy on the one hand and development on the other, including the importance of equity before the law for all people, is especially significant for social workers.

However, BASW regrets that the communiqué included no specific reference to the importance of older people to sustainable communities and recognition of their needs; the rights of LGBTQI people; the elimination of the death penalty, arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial executions and torture; and the increasing number of attacks on and threats to journalists around the world.  

Dr David N Jones, Chair of BASW’s International Committee and Board Member of COSW, said: “BASW was crucial to ensuring that the social work voice and social work values were clearly articulated in the IFCO policy submission. 

“CHOGM gave the opportunity for that voice to be heard at the highest levels, including personal conversations with several Presidents, Prime Ministers and diplomats and the UK Foreign Secretary.  COSW is grateful to BASW for the generous support given to this work over recent months.”

He added: “Social work is a global, human rights profession with shared values and a commitment to social justice.” 

Indeed, this was recognised by the Minister for Children, Nadhim Zahawi, who praised the association for its work with the Commonwealth at a BASW/COSW fringe meeting during the CHOGM week.

“Working through IFSW, COSW and CHOGM, BASW lobbies for human rights, sustainable and socially just development and improved recognition of the crucial role of social workers in all countries.  I was honoured to carry this responsibility during CHOGM 2018,” Jones concluded.


BASW has been a long-term supporter of COSW, a non-governmental organisation accredited by The Commonwealth and affiliated to the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW).  The COSW Chair is based in Malaysia, the Treasurer is in New Zealand and the Secretary is in Canada. 

Board members come from Australia, India, Kenya, South Africa and the UK. COSW was launched in 1994 and formally constituted in 2000.  COSW has been represented by the local social work association at every biennial CHOGM since 1997.