Social Work and Human Rights: A Foundation for Policy and Practice

By Elisabeth Reichert.
Columbia University Press
ISBN 0231123086

Although Elisabeth Reichert comes to the notion of a human
rights approach to social care from a US perspective, nothing is
lost in translation. In fact, she goes to great lengths to
exemplify her ideas and notions by including European and global

She explains the UN Convention of Human Rights and then develops
the principles by asking questions, giving case studies and
offering her own perspective. Reichert says, this text is not a
users’ guide. That said, chapter 8, on applications, provides a
range of practice areas that users will find instructive.

Reichert argues forcefully that human rights in the domain of
social care provides us with a powerful challenge against
oppression of vulnerable groups. My one criticism is that she does
not explore the difficulties of conflicting rights. As providers of
social care intervene to protect one human right, they may risk
subverting another. Assessment tools are not always up to the task
and we risk colluding with the very oppression we are at pains to

Reichert opens up her subject in an accessible and interactive
manner and provides us with one of the best frameworks for testing
social care provision that I have seen to date.

Jane Campbell is chairperson of the Social Care Institute
for Excellence.

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