General Assembly Declaration - Covid 19 Pandemic: Combating visible and hidden dimensions of human distress

Proposed at the ICSW General Assembly in its first virtual meeting in 2nd year of the centennial decade of the ICSW and adopted with revisions thereafter by its Supervisory Advisory Board on 25 November 2020

The International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) is one of the oldest international non- governmental organizations aimed at promoting social development, social justice and social welfare everywhere in the world. We, the members of the ICSW, are proud to be affiliated with this outstanding civil society organization that represents a great variety of stakeholders from around the world, an organization that is well-recognized and highly regarded nationally and internationally. Empowered by the objectives of ICSW enshrined its Constitution to “Promote forms of social and economic development which aim to reduce poverty, hardship and vulnerability, by striking an appropriate balance between social and economic goals and which respect cultural diversity by strengthening civil society throughout the world”, we stand together to achieve these goals at a time in the history where global cooperation and solidarity are of paramount importance more than ever before.

In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as a global health crisis of our time ICSW is committed to respond to this public health emergency of international concern. We are deeply concerned and mourn the unfortunate deaths of millions of people and express our condolences to the bereaved families. The individuals, families, communities and nations have been affected in all senses ranging from biological, social, psychological, and economic to political aspects. There is an urgent need to deal with the consequences arising out of the pandemic.

The crisis of 2020, generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is unique in its nature and scale. Its complexity and its impacts on the society is unprecedented. This crisis of enormous proportions made us aware of the need to think differently about uncertainties, and to integrate emergency management into public policies as well as promoting long term risk reduction strategies by advocating for public health and universal social protection as essential services by the state. Climate change, natural disasters and other hazards that have increased in frequency and intensity are likely to intersect with COVID-19 outbreak and public-health response, depleting both emergency-response resources as well as social funding generally. The crisis is likely to be exacerbated by both the unfolding economic crisis and long-standing socioeconomic disparities. Social workers and social development practitioners have to cope with consequences of this complex reality with its unclear repercussions for future generations.

ICSW having evolved through the years to engage with major issues of social development and being committed to improving human well-being across the world, assumes the responsibility to promote realisation of fundamental rights to employment, income, food, shelter, education, health care and security. Strengthening social protection systems in achieving universality in the provision of social protection and the strengthening and empowering of communities are the best ways to cope with the pandemic, reduce insecurity and deprivation.

We affirm our commitments to the restoration of normalcy in all its dimensions and to the reduction of hardship and vulnerability in society, especially amongst disadvantaged population groups. The ICSW reassures that it will consistently support efforts at national, regional and international levels to promote universal social protection systems. The COVID19 crisis has also revealed how vital the establishment of a basic income for all is to combat the visible and hidden dimensions of human distress.

We further reiterate our support for everyone anywhere and everywhere without any discrimination and shall advocate for equal access, availability and affordability to essential health care, with other life support services and mechanisms, effectively and efficiently.

We hereby reaffirm our pledge to combat corona pandemic by strengthening the ICSW and member organizations so as to achieve improved capacity in the area of social welfare and social development. Consequential effects of the pandemic can be better handled by promoting collaboration among member organizations and partners at all levels, nationally, regionally and globally, to restore normalcy and to ensure well-being at the individual, family and societal levels.

The General assembly firmly resolve to stand in solidarity with all those people who have been affected by the COVID situation including those who lost lives, livelihoods and pushed to heightened marginalities. It further resolves to take all possible necessary measures in collaboration with its members and partners at all levels to combat the crisis and beyond