International Round Up
Update on key international news and activities by Ruth Allen, CEO BASW
As we publish this round up of some key international news and activities, we are dealing with the terrible news of the deaths yesterday of (at least 27) people - women, men, children - trying to cross the Channel; victims of people smuggling, of incoherent and inhumane migration and asylum policies, and ineptitude in cooperation between the UK and France now we are outside the European Union.
This tragedy reminds us yet again that we may be an island, but we are inextricably part of a global population - and our society is all the richer for our diversity.
It reminds us also that UK politics and policy of migration and asylum at the moment aren’t working at any level; they do not enable the UK to play its expected role in treating asylum seekers and refugees fairly and benevolently, they don’t embrace the reality that migration adds much more to our economy and society than it takes, and they don’t foster cohesion and security across society. Politics and policy are failing.
As social workers - whether working with unaccompanied child asylum seekers or advocating for traumatised and at-risk adults - we deal with consequences of these failures in daily practice. We call for a humane and fair immigration and asylum policy framework and for governments around the UK to meet the standards and expectations of international and national law in human rights.
The international response to the climate crisis has been a subject of intense activity over the past month. Professor Lena Dominelli reflects on her experience of COP26. In early November, overlapping with COP26, the Council of Europe (CoE) hosted the 9th World Forum for Democracy which posed the question ‘Can democracy save the environment?’. We were able to participate in this important annual stocktake of the state of democratic systems through the International Federation of Social Workers and the CoE Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (CINGO). You can read more about the event here https://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy
Key takeaways for me were that while democracy is being challenged by rising support for populism and authoritarianism across diverse countries – from the USA to Brazil to Poland – there is evidence that cynicism is largely in older generations.
Younger people want to engage in reimagining democracy – more open, inclusive, devolved and dealing with the next generation’s priorities which include the climate crisis, anti-racism and equalities in society.
The most encouraging aspect of the event was the direct involvement of youth delegates from around the world – passionate, articulate, caring, committed and dedicated to a global perspective on the future of democracy.