who we are

The International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) is a non-governmental organization focused on advocacy, knowledge-building and technical assistance projects in various areas of social development carried out at the country level and internationally.

Created in 1928 in Paris to address complexities and challenges of social work, the ICSW has evolved through the years to embrace the major issues of social development, becoming a global organization committed to improving human well-being. Establishing common ground on issues of international significance, and acting with partners ICSW represents national and local organizations in more than 70 countries throughout the world working through its nine regional networks. Membership also includes major international organizations. By virtue of its constitution, ICSW operates as a democratic and accountable organization.

Our Vision

Reduction of hardship and vulnerability, especially amongst disadvantaged sectors of the population is the priority concern of ICSW. Representing tens of thousands of community organizations working directly with people facing poverty and serious deprivation, our network helps vulnerable groups to cope with risks and challenges of life. As a contemporary umbrella organization ICSW works to empower it members to participate fully in society as responsible citizens, with a greater civic voice and capacity to achieve meaningful results. We work in partnership with other civil society organizations, with government structures, with the academic community and international organizations to make our vision a reality.

Upholding dignity of all—young people, older people, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, indigenous people-- is a paramount driver of our activities. ICSW strives for recognition and realization of all human rights, including fundamental rights to employment, income, food, shelter, education, health care and security. We are keen to promote gender equality and empowerment of women of all ages considering it a vital element of our activities.

Social Protection

ICSW has a particular focus on promoting social protection, seeing it as a human right and an investment in people. The ICSW continues to support the development and implementation of the Social Protection Floor Initiative, emphasizing the importance of a universal approach to social protection covering all social groups across the life cycle. We are the founding members of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors and actively participate in major international cooperation meetings to promote social protection initiatives and most effective schemes across the globe.

How we work

ICSW’s strives to act as a connector, convener and knowledge broker, binding together issues and regions, and mobilizing partners along shared priorities that will shape progressive social and economic policies across the global village. Key activities include gathering and disseminating information, undertaking research and analysis, convening seminars and conferences, drawing on grass-roots experiences, strengthening organizations of the civil society, developing policy proposals, engaging in public advocacy and working with policy-makers and administrators in government and elsewhere.

Having the highest level of consultative status with the United Nations in relation to the work of the Economic and Social Council, the ICSW uses existing opportunities to leverage the voices of our members into different platforms of international stakeholders. We actively participate in the work of the Commission for Social Development, the Commission on the Status of Women, and other intergovernmental bodies making policy statements and putting forward constructive suggestions representing our partners. ICSW and our members are active in a wide range of fields within the general areas of social development, social welfare and social justice.

ICSW’s monthly publication called Global Cooperation Newsletter published in English, French and Spanish informs our members and the readership at large about important developments in the socio-economic field, as well as most interesting activities taking place within organization and beyond. It presents the views of prominent scholars and practitioners. Regional committees bring out Regional Cooperation Newsletters highlighting on the above areas specific to the region.

Our Structure

ICSW’s constitution and by-laws make us a democratic and accountable organisation. The General Assembly meets at least once every two calendar years to discuss the key issues on the agenda of the organization, while the Supervisory and Advisory Board meets annually. The President, Treasurer and the Management Committee are elected to take responsibility for detailed implementation of ICSW programmes and policies.

Similar governing structures apply in each of ICSW’s nine regions - Central and West Africa, East and Southern Africa, Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific, North East Asia, Europe, North America and Caribbean, and Latin America.


ICSW’s global office is located in New York, USA.

ICSW’s activities are mainly funded by membership fees as well as grants from governmental or intergovernmental sources. 

The ICSW Constitution is available here.

Region Europe Region North America Region Latin America and the Caribbean Region Middle East and North Africa Region Central and West Africa Region East and Southern Africa Region South Asia Region North East Asia Region South East Asia and the Pacific

Become A Member

ICSW offers both institutional and individual membership. Membership of ICSW provides an opportunity to join an influential global network of social development specialists and practitioners, represent your views and policy priorities in global forums, stay abreast of recent developments in the field of social policy, to share your experiences and knowledge with other colleagues and partners, as well as contribute to expanding the boundaries of the possible in social development area.

To apply for membership, click here for application form.