07 Oct Family Policy Rejected at the UN
During the third week of September in New York, the UN hosted leaders from around the globe to talk about the most pressing problems that face nations, but nothing was mentioned about families. These world leaders were presented with a document that had been negotiated for months prior, a document that didn’t include one phrase about family. During this Millennial Summit they talked about the goals of saving lives through lowering maternal mortality rates, finding solutions for the scourge of HIV/AIDS, how to end poverty and hunger, how to ensure that children grow up healthy… all of this and much more, but not one word about how families can contribute to achieving these goals.
Is there a moratorium on “family?” Sure seems like it. Susan Roylance, former president and co-founder of United Families International, gives us some insights as to what went on. Then we’ re going to share with you what UFI thinks must be done to help ensure that “family” is recognize and supported within the UN system and throughout the world.
Family Policy Rejected at the UN
by Susan Roylance
The shocking truth is: the family unit was ignored at the UN Millennium Summit in New York City last week.
Delegates from countries throughout the world were meeting to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established at the first Millennium Summit in 2000. A long-negotiated Outcome Document was presented, outlining plans for achieving the goals by 2015.
“It continues to be surprising that there is no mention of the word family in this negotiated document,” said Eric Olson, the former head of the UN division on the family. He noted that many of the Millennium goals are specifically related to family issues: reducing infant mortality, increasing attendance of children in primary school, maternal health, reducing HIV/AIDS and generally reducing the level of poverty.
Olson noted that, in the arena of family issues, “there are areas of agreement and areas of disagreement – not only disagreement, but passionate disagreement.” This increased passion, on both sides of issue, has caused country delegates to shy away from including family wording in official outcome documents. “Country delegates did not push for the family in the high-level meetings,” said Olson.
Olson was speaking to members of the NGO Committee on the Family (for non-governmental organizations), the day after the Millennium Summit concluded.
I was in attendance at the UN, in August, when the outcome document was being negotiated. As lobbyists, representatives of family focused organizations presented consensus language from previous UN documents that could be included in the Outcome Document for the Summit. Delegates from previously family-friendly countries did not want to add “family” in the document, because they said other delegates would want to add language dealing with the “various forms” of the family – with the intention of including families headed by same-sex couples.
The Secretary General of the UN is currently preparing a document that will be used in the upcoming preparations for the International Year of the Family. Renata Kaczmarsk, acting head of the UN’s Focal Point on the Family, urged family oriented organizations to submit questions and information to be considered in the preparation of the report. The preparation of this report will also be discussed in the next NGO Family Committee meeting in October. The final report will be presented at the Commission on Social Development next February.
“The family is important to everyone,” said Olson. “It is a bit of a tragedy that it is not able to be expressed. No matter which side of the debate we are on, we all come from families.”
by Michael Duff
During the course of the next year, the UN will be sponsoring numerous events in preparation for the International Year of the Family (2014). As always UFI will have our people there monitoring and educating on the best practices and implementation of family policy. We will continue to push for positive “family language” in each and every document, convention or treaty that comes out of the UN. Our goal is to move the cause of families to the top of the agenda–instead of having it be relegated to an “unmentionable” category.
Here’s just a portion of the plan:
– Provide information and analysis on effective family policy for inclusion in the “Report to Secretary General to the Commission on Social Development”
– Submit research and social science data on the importance of fathers for possible inclusion in the “Family policy and men in families: an international perspective” a UN publication that will be released in January or February.
– Insure leadership by having UFI representatives in every UN Programme on the Family planning meeting leading up to the culmination of the 2014 International Year of the Family. There must be people there ready to speak up and influence the types of publications, events, and tone of everything that comes out of this UN agency.
– Exert influence on the UN documents at the beginning of their drafting phase, instead of having language of “family” and “life” left out altogether, or being forced into a defensive posture of trying to remove anti-family, anti-life language while the document is being negotiated
While strengthening families within our homes is of greatest significance, there are some battles that cannot be fought and won on that front. United Families International is effectively monitoring high level appointments, cases and policy conferences and fighting unreported battles near and far that protect the family. Our success on those fronts surely affects the safety of our individual homes. We must all find ways to contribute to both fronts—-raise and enjoy our families while securing a future for all the families of the world.
President, United Families International