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Human rights are fundamental to social work

A study of the history of human rights can rapidly become a study in paradox. How is it that a corporation may have human rights, while not being human, but may evade responsibility for human rights, having insufficient nexus with the State? How is it that a human rights instrument – the European Convention on Human Rights – that is so closely associated in origin with a conservative British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is so loathed by a conservative British Prime Minister?

But the paradox that is the focus of what I have to say is this: human rights are fundamental to social work. I need briefly to unpick the assertion. Then I will explore why I describe it as a paradox. I will conclude, I hope, with some positive messages about rights-based social work.