Family First Principles
It has been adapted from “The Natural Family: A Manifesto” developed by the World Congress of Families. The World Congress of Families has been held since 1997 in Prague, Geneva and Mexico City, and has just been held in Poland (May 07).
Each of these international Congresses produced Declarations for the protection, welfare and support of the Family, including a forceful reiteration of the leading international text on this subject, namely Article 16 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which had proclaimed as far back as 1948 that: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by the society and the State.”
They are the result of scholarly discussions that began in December, 2004 at a meeting in Princeton, New Jersey USA, sponsored by the Witherspoon Institute. This conference brought together scholars from History, Economics, Psychiatry, Law, Sociology and Philosophy to share with each other the findings of their research on why marriage is in the public interest.
Referring to the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” and entitled to protection by society and the state (i.e. New Zealand as a state party)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art 16
The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
New Zealand’s state commitment to this instrument is affirmed by paragraph (b) in the Short Title to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
1. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to the protection by society and the state
International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights
1. The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC)
This Convention was signed by New Zealand on 1 October 1990 and adopted on 6 April 1993. The preamble to that convention states:
That the family, is the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and wellbeing of all members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities with the community.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL (2016)
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has passed the Protection of the Family resolution. It passed by a wide margin: 32 votes in favour, 12 against, and 3 abstentions. Significantly, all the hostile amendments that would have changed this new resolution’s meaning and intent were soundly defeated. In particular, a proposal by the UK, Switzerland and Norway seeking to force countries to recognize “various forms of the family” in an attempt to promote controversial family structures was defeated.
This historic resolution focused on the role of the family in helping and caring for the disabled, and it is the first time the UN has recognized in a comprehensive way the vital role families play in this regard.
- “Reaffirming that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community,”
- “Reaffirms that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State;”
- “Calls upon States to render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities”
- “Reaffirms the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of his or her rights;”
- “Recognizes that the family, while respect for the rights of its members is ensured, is a strong force for social cohesion and integration, intergenerational solidarity and social development, and that the family plays a crucial role in the preservation of cultural identity, traditions, morals, heritage and the values system of society;”
- “Calls upon States to recognize in their policy and legal frameworks the important role played by families in caring for and supporting persons with disabilities;”
- “Recognizes that the family unit plays a key role in social development,”
- “Invites States, the organizations of the United Nations system and all other relevant stakeholders to take into account the role of the family as a contributor to sustainable development and the need to strengthen family policy development in their ongoing efforts to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;“
- “Invites the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the treaty bodies, relevant special procedure mandate holders and other relevant international and regional human rights mechanisms, within their respective mandates and competence, to pay due attention in their work to the implementation by States of their obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law to provide protection and support to the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society;”
U.N. DOHA DECLARATION (2004)
We reaffirm international commitments to strengthen the family, in particular:
1. We commit ourselves to recognizing and strengthening the family’s supporting, educating and nurturing roles, with full respect for the world’s diverse cultural, religious, ethical and social values;
2. We recognize the inherent dignity of the human person and note that the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care before as well as after birth. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person;
3. We reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to the widest possible protection and assistance by society and the State;
4. We emphasize that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses and that the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized and that husband and wife should be equal partners;
5. We further emphasize that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children from infancy to adolescence. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. All institutions of society should respect and support the efforts of parents to nurture and care for children in a family environment. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children and the liberty to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
Call for action
Taking into account the above commitments, we call upon all Governments, international organizations and members of civil society at all levels to:
Cultural, religious and social values
1. Develop programmes to stimulate and encourage dialogue among countries, religions, cultures and civilizations on questions related to family life, including measures to preserve and defend the institution of marriage;
2. Reaffirm the importance of faith and religious and ethical beliefs in maintaining family stability and social progress;
3. Evaluate and reassess the extent to which international law and policies conform to the principles and provisions related to the family contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international commitments;
4. Reaffirm commitments to provide a quality education for all, including equal access to educational opportunities;
5. Evaluate and reassess government policies to ensure that the inherent dignity of human beings is recognized and protected throughout all stages of life;
6. Develop indicators to evaluate the impact of all programmes on family stability;
7. Strengthen policies and programmes that will enable families to break the cycle of poverty;
8. Evaluate and reassess government population policies, particularly in countries with below replacement birth rates;
9. Encourage and support the family to provide care for older persons and persons with disabilities;
10. Support the family in addressing the scourge of HIV/AIDS and other pandemics, including malaria and tuberculosis;
11. Take effective measures to support the family in times of peace and war;
12. Uphold, preserve and defend the institution of marriage;
13. Take effective measures to strengthen the stability of marriage by, among other things, encouraging the full and equal partnership of husband and wife within a committed and enduring marital relationship;
14. Establish effective policies and practices to condemn and remedy abusive relationships within marriage and the family, including the establishment of public agencies to assist men, women, children and families in crisis;
Parents and children
15. Strengthen efforts to promote equal political, economic, social and educational opportunities for women and evaluate and assess economic, social and other policies to support mothers and fathers in performing their essential roles;
16. Strengthen the functioning of the family by involving mothers and fathers in the education of their children;
17. Reaffirm that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children;
18. Reaffirm and respect the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
On 6 December 2004 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a significant Declaration that affirms the importance of the family: the Doha Declaration for the Family.
Representatives from a range of NGOs and governments met in Doha, Qatar in November 2005 for the Doha International Conference for the Family. This was the final of a series of events held earlier in 2004 in Benin, Mexico, Switzerland and Malaysia. Throughout these meetings, hundreds of academics, government officials, NGO representatives and UN representatives formulated the Declaration.
The Declaration was adopted by consensus of the international community, and by the UN General Assembly on 6 December 2004, with many countries expressing their concern and care for the family. However, New Zealand, along with Canada and some European countries, disassociated itself from the Declaration.