ICSW has concentrated in recent years on the fundamental social issues of social development, poverty, employment and social exclusion. 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. 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.

Social Protection and Social Development Geneva February 2019

Geneva once again stood out as a global community hub for rights-based humanitarian and social development throughout February 2019.

Events related to Social Protection scheduled early in February 2019 included the annual Social Protection Inter-agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B) meeting that takes place alternatively in Geneva and New York. The meeting of the Board was associated with a series of other meetings, of SPIAC-B committees and working groups, as well as with OECD’s High Level Conference - Together to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030 to promote the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection (USP2030) the 3-day International Conference on Universal Child Grants driven by UNICEF and the Overseas Development Institute in partnership with the ILO.

Dr Odile Frank, Special Representative of ICSW at the UN Office in Geneva and the Specialized Agencies in Geneva reported on some key details of the above activities in Geneva.

Read the full report here (PDF 65Kb)

Global Agenda Observatory

At the meeting in Paris in November 2012 the IASSW, IFSW and ICSW considered specific actions in the context of the implementation of the tripartite Global Agenda adopted earlier that year. In order to gather evidence about the activities of social workers, educators and social development practitioners who support the implementation of the Global Agenda and in order to give visibility and credibility to their contributions and promote further action, it was decided to establish a Global Agenda Observatory. The past years provided an opportunity to draw some lessons from the process and suggest improvements.

This new entity is structured around the four themes of the Global Agenda commencing with the theme of promoting social and economic equalities (discussed in Melbourne in 2014); promoting the dignity and worth of people (Seoul, 2016), working toward environmental and community sustainability (Dublin, 2018) and strengthening recognition of the importance of human relationships. A focus on ensuring an appropriate environment for practice and education will be maintained throughout. The Global Agenda Observatory is conceived as a mechanism for monitoring and reporting upon the implementation of the Agenda Commitments. The Observatory aims at creating networks or consortia composed of institutions of higher education and professional/practice-based organizations that jointly conduct research, analyze, synthesize and report on Agenda activities. It aspires to establish a strong, credible monitoring mechanism over the next 10 years.

Established at the local, national, regional and international levels, and working through the existing structures and work plans, the Global Agenda Observatory aims at taking into consideration the existing priorities of each of the partner organizations.

The Report on the first priority theme-- on inequality-- was submitted to the Joint World Conference in Melbourne in 2014 and on the second priority theme-- on dignity was released in Seoul in 2016.

Global Meetings

Every two years ICSW, together with our partner organizations IASSW and IFSW, convenes Joint World Conferences to examine some of the core issues relating to global development agenda. These conferences usually attract thousands of participants. Recent and future venues include Stockholm 2012, Melbourne 2014, Seoul 2016, Dublin 2018.

A Global Civil Society Forum is convened every year in New York immediately before the meeting of the UN Commission for Social Development. It is addressed by leading governmental and civil society experts from around the world.

Regional Meetings

Seoul2014 PlanningMission 940x400ICSW Executive Director Sergei Zelenev with colleagues from IASSW & IFSW, Seoul 2014

ICSW conducts conferences in some regions. In other regions the focus has moved away from conferences as resources are now spent on bringing leaders together for training on issues such as building national councils and influencing government budgets and policy.


Global Social Policy Journal (GSP)
ICSW has entered into an agreement to support the Global Social Policy Journal. In particular, ICSW is sponsoring a the section Observatory on the Global South. “What's NEW?” brings you the latest issue.

ICSW acknowledges that this sponsorship of Global Social Policy has been made possible through grants from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

International Social Work (ISW)
International Social Work is the official journal of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) and the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW.) Together these bodies represent the interests of individuals concerned with social work, social welfare and development across the world.

ICSW Global Digest 2016 & 2017 (Doc) (20 Mb)
ISCW Global Co0peration Digest 2015 (1.91 Mb)
CIBS Compendio 2015 (335 Kb)

Other recent publications
Other recent publications include Globalisation and Social Development and briefing papers on Civil Society and regional groupings of governments including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC). Each publication focuses on creating and enhancing the interface between civil society and regional intergovernmental groupings.

In addition to this there are Annual Reports and monthly newsletters for members at both global and regional levels.

Our website,, carries a wide range of information and references in relation to social development and social welfare.


ICSW takes part in every annual session of the UN Commission for Social Development held in New York, using it as an opportunity to present its vision of social development priorities to the world. It also participates in the annual work of the Commission on the Status of Women. The ICSW submits well- researched policy statements on the priority themes to both Commissions (which are functional commissions of the ECOSOC), using the collective views of its members. The statements made by ICSW at the 53rd and 54th Sessions of the Commission for Social Development in February 2015 and 2916 respectively was devoted to the priority theme of the meetings: “Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”. The statements made at the 59th and 60th sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women were devoted to the plight of older women and the need to strengthen efforts aimed at promoting gender equality and empowerment of women of all ages.

ICSW representatives meet with senior Ministers around the world, officials of the UN, key international organisations and other people with responsibility for making or implementing policies in our areas of interest.

Training and Support

CWAMeeting Cameroon2012 800x474 CWA Meeting on Social Protection Cameroon 2012

Capacity-building workshops have been conducted for our members and other civil society organisations in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Black Sea Countries. They include topics such building national councils and influencing government budgets.