Source: (2004) International Social Work. 47(2): 157-167.

The mission, principles and values of social work impel its practitioners to engage in establishing the nature and extent of human rights violations and promoting reconciliation. Yet writings directly addressing the profession’s engagement in this moral obligation are few. The intention of this article is to stimulate international dialogue on the subject by recording an initial stage in such a process, namely, the acknowledgement of failure to counteract human rights abuse and apologizing for the omission. The statement made by some social work educators at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Johannesburg, South Africa, is preceded by a discussion of the mechanisms available to countries dealing with destructive pasts, the option selected by South Africa, namely the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and a discussion of the concept of reconciliation. This is followed by an appraisal of the TRC. In conclusion the article highlights the moral brief of social work in this regard. Author's abstract.