Dear Friend of the Family,
Opportunity often presents itself to those who are observant, vigilant and prepared. Thomas Christensen, a longtime member of the Governing Board of United Families International, seized upon a golden opportunity last week while attending the Commission for Social Development (CSD) at the United Nations, in New York. In reviewing the draft resolution of the CSD, “Promoting Full Employment and Decent Work,” Thomas observed that the resolution on the table ignored a 2007 requirement to integrate family perspective into policy. He took advantage of an opportunity to remind delegates of their obligation during an address before the General Assembly.
It is a major accomplishment for nongovernmental organizations to be given speaking time at the General Assembly. Marcia Barlow, UFI’s director of international policy, said, “Speaking before the General Assembly is a rare opportunity and United Families is honored to have had Thomas represent us with his remarks.”
During his address to the General Assembly, Thomas said:
“How can we set policies relating to social and economic development without considering the fundamental social and economic unit of society? “I am frankly surprised that more emphasis at this conference has not been placed on the family, which as we all know, is described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the fundamental group unit of society, deserving of the highest level of government support. Recently, the secretary general of the United Nations, in a report dated July 23, 2007 (A/62/132), requested that this commission at this session (as a follow-up to the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family), “integrate a family perspective into the commission’s proposed policy outcome document” and to consider a family perspective as it relates to “other issues, such as youth and aging.”
As our colleague explained to the delegates, the reason why the family must be considered in the deliberations is simple. No civilization can survive without the linkage of men and women in enduring families with a sufficient number of children to maintain the population and provide future citizens, workers and leaders.
“The family is, of course, critical to the nurture, mentoring, care and protection of children through maturity,” Thomas continued. “The government can never replace effective mothers and fathers. Social science confirms that no factor is greater in the future employment prospects of a child than his or her family environment.”
“The family is the chief indicator of a child’s success in school. Even poor children excel when the mother, assisted by the father, assumes the role of first educator. Children from stable two-parent homes perform better on standardized tests. Without a stable home environment, children often learn their values and life skills on the street, from amoral peers, and from inferior social institutions and drift towards crime and high-risk behaviors. The production of a steady supply of children who are loved and disciplined in the home is essential to a free and prosperous nation.”
Earlier in the CSD proceedings, a delegate spoke of Italy and how the women of that European nation are having children at such a low rate that their country is aging and struggling to provide for an expanding elderly population. Increasingly, the elderly are detached from family and dependent on unfunded government entitlements. This demographic crisis faces most of the developed nations of the earth, including many states in the U.S. The solution is to encourage in law and culture stable, enduring, child-rich families and extended families.
Thomas pointed out that President John Kennedy once said the best welfare policy is to strengthen the family so the family can care for itself . Government policy should not overlook the challenges and social value of the intact family. These are essential to a strong economy and need incentives, encouragement and legal status. Without strong families, the goal of “promoting full employment and decent work for all” will fail.
In the absence of key allies at CSD, such as the United States delegation, we were unable to persuade any attending nation to introduce suitable family language. However, the chairman of CSD encouraged Thomas to introduce language next year, which we fully plan to do.
Carol Soelberg, President
United Families International