Tuesday 24 June 2014

Friends of the Family group of nations tables pro-family resolution at the Human Rights Council

A group of United Nations member states representing all regions of the world, calling themselves "Friends of the Family", has introduced a draft resolution entitled "Protection of the Family", at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Among other things, the draft resolution:
  • calls for "concerted actions to strengthen family-centred policies and programmes as part of an integrated comprehensve approach to human rights and development"
  • recognises that "the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children"
  • says that the family is "the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children"
  • describes the family "the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State"
Pro-family lobbyists at the Human Rights Council session in Geneva have welcomed the draft resolution (see text below). These lobbyists include the Family Rights Caucus, Human Life International and Pat Buckley, representing the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC):
"This much-needed and long overdue initiative is intended to be a procedural resolution only, seeking a debate on protection of the family during the September session of the Council, followed by a report from the new High Commissioner. Rarely has a resolution been so vigorously resisted by anti-life and family forces.

Despite the fact that all the family references included in the document are from previously agreed Human Rights Treaties and Conventions, to which every country has acceded, the UK negotiating on behalf of the EU, the US, Australia, Argentina, Switzerland, Norway and others have stated that in order to achieve consensus, the draft resolution must explicitly include language to the effect that: “in different cultural, social and political systems various forms of the family exist”.

The resolution, on the other hand, refers to the generic term ‘the family’ as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the other treaties and covenants that form the Bill of Rights

The attacks on the resolution are ongoing and include false claims regarding the purpose, intent and scope of the resolution.

In an attempt to broaden the scope of the resolution beyond its simple procedural intent, it has been falsely claimed that the draft resolution fails to acknowledge widespread human rights violations and abuses occurring within families and would thereby undermine the Human Rights Council’s ability to address such violations.

Such claims, according to the Family Rights Caucus, are not only absurd, but they are being used as scare tactics to pressure UN Member States, either to abandon, or substantially weaken, the draft resolution by dramatically changing its intent, title and focus.

The UN Member States hostile to this resolution know full well that the meaning of this phrase ‘various forms of the family’ has evolved over time and has become extremely controversial and divisive. In other words these countries are attempting to force their ideological views on all nations in a manner that will only cause further division between Member States. They hope that by continuing to push for this controversial language, they may be able to stop the resolution in its tracks.

2014 is the International Year of the Family and it is not only appropriate for the Human Rights Council to issue a resolution on the protection of the family unit, it was in fact called for by this year’s Commission on Social Development (CSD), in resolution (CN.5/2014/L.5) which:
Invites “United Nations agencies and bodies” (including the HRC) to conduct and report on “activities in support of the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow-up processes and to share good practices and data on family policy development,” and
Calls upon “United Nations and regional entities . . . to promote and advance family empowerment”

The HRC panel on the family by proposing the current draft resolution on ‘Protection of the Family’ certainly answers this call.

The Friends of the Family group currently includes the following member states.
Bangladesh, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Tunisia and Uganda and it is understood that more countries intend to join the group."
(One note of caution is the presence of China within the Friends of the Family group. China is of course notorious for its violation of family rights through its population control programme.)

In addition to the joint text above, Pat Buckley has sent the following message to the Friends of the Family Group:
"We are happy that a resolution on the family is finally under consideration and we believe that the currently proposed format is best for a procedural resolution.

We recommend that proposals to alter the title and to include such language as ‘various forms of the family’ should be resisted bearing in mind Article 16.3 of the Universal declaration on Human Rights, which uses the term ‘the family’;
“Whereas the United Nations has recognized that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, entitled to protection by society and State”
We submit that personal rights are well protected under other Conventions and Treaties and that protection of the family, far from being a threat to personal rights helps to underpin them.

To date however the family has largely been ignored despite the fact that it is one of the fundamental groups responsible for driving development and has been described by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the Key to attaining the SDCs.
“The majority of the Millennium Development targets, especially those relating to the reduction of poverty, education of children and reduction in maternal mortality, are difficult to attain unless the strategies to achieve them focus on the family.” (SG Family Report 2011 (A/66/62–E/2011/4)
Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
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