It matters to people how they are treated by others. We established the importance of dignity as a foundation to respectful practice in an earlier chapter (Chapter 7, this volume). In this chapter our intention is to make links between the values of respect and dignity and notions of human rights and social work practice. Thus, we are considering human rights as an expression of certain values about human beings. We do this in line with a point made by Tasioulas (2015), that these rights ‘are grounded in the universal interests of their holders, all of whom possess the equal moral status of human dignity’ (Tasioulas, 2015, p. 70, our emphasis). Connolly and Ward (2007, p. 16) also make a point that there needs to be a moral foundation to human rights, and they consider that ‘moral rights are a more extensive category than human rights … human rights are a subset of moral rights.’ While the philosophical foundations to human rights appears less than settled amongst philosophers, for our purposes we will ground our discussion of them in respect to certain moral claims. These are claims ‘that human beings make on one another, and in particular on states and institutions and officials, even (or especially) when existing institutional structures fail to protect or secure those claims’ (O’Neill, 2015, p. 71).
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