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Janet Walker
Human Rights and Social Justice Committee; IASSW

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Annaline Keet
Human Rights and Social Justice Committee; IASSW

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Das Chaitali
Human Rights and Social Justice Committee; IASSW

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Shirley Gatenio Gabel
Human Rights and Social Justice Committee; IASSW

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Noga Pitowsky-Nave
Human Rights and Social Justice Committee; IASSW

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Jessica-Hanna J├Ânsson
Human Rights and Social Justice Committee; IASSW

Guest Editorial: Human Rights and Social Justice Committee

The proposal for this special edition of Social Dialogue came from the Human Rights and Social Justice Committee of the IASSW. Following many discussions on the positioning of social work in the context of violent conflicts and destructive disasters, a decision was taken to create a platform where members of the social work fraternity can speak to these events in their respective or neighbouring regions. People across the globe continue to experience atrocities that negatively impact their lives with the most vulnerable members of society experiencing the brunt of these man-made and natural destructions.

News outlets provide coverage of some prominent events while many, because of the postcolonial global order, escape the exposure and thus the consciousness of the international community. The social work profession finds itself amid various forms of interventions between governments and these vulnerable communities, shining the light on various forms of human rights violations and injustices. This special edition is designed to create a discussion platform about various conflicts and disasters from a social work perspective, essentially recognising the right for all atrocities to be acknowledged.

This special edition includes 13 articles which from the perspective of social work discuss the violation of human rights and oppression of various groups in many parts of the world. Social workers and social work educators from areas of conflict around the globe, such as Africa, the Middle East, Europe and America made contributions. The articles are addressing professional and pedagogic dilemmas, regarding social work practice and education under conflictual circumstances. The types of conflict presented in this issue are varied and include different circumstances causing human rights violation, such as military conflicts, natural disasters, governmental corruption, religious radicalization, conflict driven by colonial violence, and conflict driven by ethnoreligious differences.

Despite the variation in the locations and in the types of conflict presented in this issue, we can identify a few reoccurring themes that characterize social work in areas of conflict. Armed conflicts, wars and disasters and internal displacements impact all dimensions of human development and are specifically detrimental to vulnerable groups, women and children, indigenous communities and young people who grow up witnessing violence and conflict in their social environment. These atrocities silence the voices of people in these territories. Social work has the roots to fight social injustice and human rights violations and should be a central role-player to hold governments accountable. By its design, social work focuses on mediating conflict in daily practice. For the social work profession to strengthen its role in the context of wars, conflict, internal displacement due to political atrocities, social work education should facilitate greater understanding of local context to develop context-specific and more radical intervention strategies.