11. Recommendation No. R (91) 16 to Members States on the Training of Social Workers and Human Rights (1991)
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers, 9 December 1991)

The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve greater unity between members, in particular through the maintenance and further realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

Considering the obligations assumed by member states under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the European Social Charter;

Considering that the Council of Europe is already engaged in a wide programme of education, believing it to be a most important element in the promotion and protection of human rights;

Observing demographic, social and economic changes taking place in society;

Having regard to the fact that, as a result of these changes, social workers are often involved in the care of vulnerable members of society, and that furthermore they contribute to the development of social policy to improve the situation of those concerned;

Conscious of the complexity and importance of the burden this places on social workers who may be confronted with needs and conflicts within which the most profound human rights issues are raised;

Recalling that it has always had concern in:

— the training of social workers (Resolution (67) 16);
— promoting the teaching of human rights in different groups of society (Resolution (78) 41),

Recommends the governments of member states:

a.  to encourage the relevant educational establishments to include a human rights dimension at all levels of the training of social workers;

b. to invite these establishments to plan their course content along the following lines:

i. understanding the role of social workers in a changing world;

ii. providing appropriate information on international instruments concerning human rights and the case-law of, inter alia, the European Commission and Court of Human Rights, relevant to social work;

iii. highlighting human rights problems by case-studies, thus enabling social workers to identify these problems in their daily choice and decision-making;

c. to draw to the attention of educators the need for continuing study and research with their students in the interpretation and development of human rights in a way which is adapted to their future duties;

d.  to invite professional associations, and those responsible for and managing departments and institutions, to pay attention to the need for social workers to continue to follow developments in human rights;

e.  to suggest that codes of professional ethics take into account the safeguarding of human rights and fundamental freedoms.