OCTOBER 11, 1952
NEW YORK, Friday—Many years ago, in fact, in 1923 in Washington, D.C., at the 50th annual meeting of the National Conference of Social Workers, Dr. Rene Sand of Belgium proposed the establishment of an International Conference of Social Workers. At that time in his speech he said:
"When the world's forum of social work will have been created, that will mean one link more between the nations, one new army raised against war, one new account opened on the credit of peace. Social work spells understanding, reconciliation and cooperation among the ranks of the nations."
The first organizing committee was headed by Dr. Alice Masarykova of Czechoslovakia, and some of our foundations, as well as the League of the Red Cross Societies, gave the initial financial aid. The first International Conference was held in Paris in 1928, as a part of the World Exhibition. Thirty-two governments were represented officially when 2,481 delegates from 42 countries met for six days. From that time on, this conference has grown slowly and has convened regularly with the exception of four years during the war.
In December, 1952, the conference will meet in Madras, India, and the theme will be "The role of social service in raising the standards of living."
This is a group that is an independent voluntary organization, nongovernmental, nonsectarian, nonpolitical. It has a practical and realistic approach because it believes the basic thing for all of us to understand is the needs of people throughout the world and the urgency of meeting those needs. It believes that this can best be done through international planning in the field of social welfare. The conference maintains firmly that no world can survive if people are deprived of their rights to human dignity, opportunity and security.
The organization has consultative status with the United Nations and must be prepared to meet requests for technical assistance and advice. Through its association with the U.N. it has, of course, opportunities for information and contacts on a very wide scale. Its usefulness is constantly growing; it publishes a newsletter and the records of its proceedings. It encourages study tours, which offer to social workers an opportunity to learn the needs and the programs of countries other than their own.
The International Conference of Social Workers is one of those groups that dovetails with much of the work done by the U.N. specialized agency and yet, being nongovernmental, it is freer than other agencies might be that were completely under government control.
Many people feel that the approach to the problems of the world, which is offered by an organization of this kind, can be of immense assistance to the government efforts being made for the advancement of world understanding and, therefore, for the prevention of war.