Last updated on June 10th, 2021 at 10:58 am
Described in the Charter of the United Nations as the organization’s “chief administrative officer,” the Secretary-General is, according to the UN website, “a symbol of United Nations ideals and a spokesperson for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them.” So prestigious is the position that, according to UN expert Stephen Schlesinger, the Secretary-General can “rally world public opinion around issues that wouldn’t necessarily have been addressed otherwise.”
Twice during the first five days of June, Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement corresponding to the particular international day being observed. His June 3 statement on World Bicycle Day declared,
Bikes are freedom; bikes are fun. They are good for one’s health—physical and mental—and good for our one and only planet. Bikes are popular and practical, providing exercise and transporting us not only to school, stores and work but to a more sustainable future. World Bicycle Day celebrates this great power and highlights the importance of non-motorized transport in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and combating climate change….
He struck a more somber tone in his June 5 statement on World Environment Day while making an impassioned plea for planet earth.
We are rapidly reaching the point of no return for the planet. We face a triple environmental emergency –biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution. For too long, humanity has cut down the Earth’s forests, polluted its rivers and oceans, and ploughed its grasslands into oblivion…. We still have time to reverse the damage we have done. That is why, on this World Environment Day, we are launching the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration…
For the two other international days observed during the first five days of June, the Secretary-General remained silent. Of course, he cannot reasonably be expected to issue a statement for each of the numerous international days, including such diversities as World Poetry Day, International Jazz Day, International Asteroid Day, World Chess Day, and World Philosophy Day. But it is hard to imagine any subject more urgently in need of the Secretary-General’s attention and voice than those addressed by the international days observed on June 1 and 4, respectively: the Global Day of Parents and the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.
His silence on parents and children would be hard to explain to the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, who recognized only one group unit as having human rights—“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”—and who declared that “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.”
His silence would also be hard to explain to the drafters of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, who insisted that “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give,” including “opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to… develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.”
It would likewise be hard to explain to the many nations who bound themselves by covenant in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to provide the family—“the natural and fundamental group unit of society”—with “the widest possible protection and assistance.”
And it is particularly hard to understand at this critical time when, as religious leaders warn, “On all sides, the family is under attack” (President Russell M. Nelson), and “marriage and the family are in crisis” (Pope Francis).
We at IOF boldly declare that “the family, a universal community based on the marital union of a man and a woman, is the bedrock of society, the strength of our nations, and the hope of humanity,” and “as the ultimate foundation of every civilization known to history,… is the proven bulwark of liberty and the key to development, prosperity, and peace.”
We remind the Secretary-General, and all leaders of influence, of the truth declared to the UN General Assembly by US representative Wade Horn on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family: “The state’s foremost obligation… is to respect, defend, and protect the family as an institution.”
And we reiterate the words of Pope Francis, offered as a lifeline to all nations: “The future of humanity passes through the family. So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always.”
Please join us at IOF as we put first things first by protecting and promoting what historian Will Durant called “the ultimate foundation of every civilization known to history”—the family.
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