This book has investigated the experience of the An Najah Community Service Center in Nablus, Palestine in adopting and implementing a rights-based approach to community practice. The studied organization practiced community advocacy in the frame work of social work as an emerging profession in an emerging state, and in an environment characterized by political, social and economic instability.
Merav Moshe Grodofsky
The Contribution of Law and Social Work to Interdisciplinary Community Development and Peace Building in the Middle East.
Journal of Community Practice, Vol. 15, Issue 1 (2007:45-65).
This article outlines how social work and legal theory advance the development of community networks for the promotion of social rights. These interdisciplinary principles are applied to peace building and to the development of the ICAN network and Rights Based Practice Centers. Implications for interdisciplinary training for schools of social work are also discussed.
The application of human rights advocacy theory to organizational innovation in Israel: The Genesis Israel/Community Advocacy experience
International Journal of Social Welfare, Vol. 10 (2001:85-96).
This article outlines the ideological, theoretical and practice principles of Rights Based Practice and applies it to Community Advocacy—the first initiative in the Middle East.
Merav Moshe Grodofsky
Peace building: a conceptual framework
International Journal of Social Welfare, Vol. 10, Issue 1 (2001:14-27).
An interdisciplinary legal and social work framework for peace building is presented. Three conditions are identified as central to the peace building process; the establishment of inclusive and autonomous communities, the recognition of the legitimacy of each community, and peace building.
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Al Waqa for Community Development is our newest partner in Jordan, an independent not-for-profit corporation, based in Amman, developing the first independent rights-based centre in Jordan. It opened its doors in September 2011.
The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), Jordan's largest NGO, is dedicated to promoting comprehensive and sustainable development through the empowerment of Jordanians. In the 2004 Jordan Development Report JOHUD devoted an entire chapter to RBCP and is now working to adapt the model to its 50 member agencies.
The University of Jordan has over 40,000 students and 1,200 faculty members. The University offers degrees in more than 70 disciplines and is also involved in policy and strategic planning in Jordan. MMEP worked with the university in founding its graduate school of social work.
In the RBCP approach, the means are as important as the ends: the right of low income people to participate in processes and decisions that affect their lives, as individuals and communities, is as important as gaining access to the rights themselves.
The practice of human rights advocacy is linked to law and community organizations. Overall, the premise is that every person holds the same rights. Rights based community practice seeks to ensure the rule of law, increasing access to fundamental rights and entitlements. This requires a process of empowerment; a process whereby persons gain ability to influence relationships and to act independently. These relationships are personal, communal, institutional and political. Appropriate tools of empowerment to each level are essential elements of a model of human rights based practice.
|Level||Disentitlement||Tools of Empowerment|
|Individual||Expressed when people believe, act or feel that they do not deserve equal treatment, that benefits and rights do not apply to them, and that they lack the resources or capacity to stand up for themselves.||Tools and resources are both internal and external. Internally they relate to personal power, self-confidence, trust and identity, which reflect inner strength and personal security. External resources are money, goods and services, legitimacy, information and status.|
|Communal||Occurs when the majority of persons constituting the same reference group do not receive sufficient resources or are excluded from influencing decisions that affect their collective welfare. Disentitled communities are those wherein people are alienated from each other as well as from their institutions. It creates a context that fosters fundamentalism and violence.||Organizing around issues that unite people rather than issues that divide them, developing democratic, autonomous organizations.|
|Institutional||Deals with issues of access and bureaucratic discretion as forms of rationing which limit the availability of resources. People are unable to access entitlements that were made available to them by law. The barriers can be either physical (distance, lack of resources) or psychological, cultural. This state is particularly experienced by the poor, elderly, unemployed, immigrants, etc.||Ensuring access, outreach, and participation in decision-making processes.|
|Political||Occurs in relation to laws and regulations that are discriminatory, contain arbitrary restrictions and privilege certain groups. When people lack opportunities to shape and influence events, to participate in decisions relating to their fundamental welfare, beliefs and aspirations, they become alienated from the society around them.||People become participants in decisions that affect them and are able to influence those decisions.|
The International Community Action Network (ICAN) was founded as the McGill Middle East Program (MMEP)in 1997, committed to the belief that the reduction of inequality and the promotion of civil society and social justice are intricately related to peace building and security. The program utilizes an approach called “Rights-Based Community Practice” (RBCP), developed and tested in Montreal (where it has continued to be utilized for more than 30 years) and adapted to the Middle Eastern context.
The combined effect of community relationship building and a rights based approach are central to this program. At the heart of the program is the concept that social work and law – two disciplines concerned with notions of rights and relationships – work in concert to promote the rule of law among people of diversity both within and between different social groups.
All RBCP Centres maintain an interdisciplinary approach, employing both social workers and lawyers. By situating their offices at street-level (storefronts) in the heart of disadvantaged communities, the centres promote inclusiveness among diverse residents, simply by virtue of their location. A broad array of social and legal interventions such as housing and legal rights and rehabilitation, youth empowerment and education, programs for women victims of violence, care and access for the disabled, sick and elderly, referral services, outreach, public education, government policy research and more, ultimately lead to individual and community empowerment. The principles of accessibility, reciprocity, universality and inclusion provide the guiding ideology, and are advanced through all of the activities undertaken.
The challenge in each place where we work is to empower citizens to take charge of their lives with the means available locally, leading to local ownership of the development process.
The eleven RBCP centres currently in operation were developed in cooperation with ICAN's Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian partners. They were established in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the three societies, and though autonomous, they function under a shared conceptual umbrella.
Common practice structures that characterize the centres:
- They are located in the most disadvantaged and the most ethnically diverse communities in their respective cities. The centre’s location makes access for the poorest populations, those most disentitled, readily available.
- The centres offer walk-in services to address personal experiences of disentitlement. The service is offered primarily by volunteers from the community, many of whom have themselves experienced disentitlement and been assisted by the centres.
- The centres are volunteer-based. Community volunteers participate in decision making processes that impact on the policies of the practice centres, allowing for civilian oversight at different levels of policy and programming.
- The centres maintain a combined approach employing both social workers and lawyers, allowing non-state actors to take legal ownership and enhance civilian oversight of the legal system.
- The centres engage in outreach work to identify common legal and social issues of disentitlement and recruit the community and volunteers to organize around them.
- The centres counter communal, institutional and political levels of disentitlement through community organization, legal action and empowerment.
- Finally, the centres are academically linked, providing community residents with academic and institutional resources, and universities with progressive learning environments for community practice, research and volunteering.
The International Community Action Network (ICAN), formerly known as the McGill Middle East Program (MMEP), is committed to the belief that social justice is the most reliable foundation for strong, healthy societies.