The International Organization for the Family, in partnership with United Families International (co-publisher of our acclaimed book Family Capital and the SDGs, edited by Susan Roylance), has submitted the following statement to the UN Secretary-General for distribution to the 54th Session of the Commission on Population and Development to be held April 19-23, 2021, at UN Headquarters in New York.
Family as the Way Forward
With the continuing worldwide devastation wrought by COVID-19, this year’s special theme of the Commission on Population and Development looms with increased urgency: Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development. As delegates grapple with a host of related issues now and going forward, we urge focus on the timeless truth recognized in Article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the only instance in which any group is recognized 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.” In this “precise and elegant” language, noted Professor Richard Wilkins, there is no mistaking that “the natural family” is founded on “the natural union of a man and a woman.”
Ambassador Michael Novak made the same point when he explained, “The roles of a father and a mother, and of children with respect to them, is the absolutely critical center of social force,” creating a family that is “the seedbed of economic skills, money habits, attitudes toward work, and the arts of financial independence,” that is “a stronger agency of educational success than the school,” and that is “a stronger teacher of the religious imagination than the church. Political and social planning in a wise social order begins with the axiom ‘What strengthens the family strengthens society.’”
No wonder the Doha Declaration stated, “The family is not only the fundamental group unit of society, but is also the fundamental agent for sustainable social, economic and cultural development.”
No wonder Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar insisted, “The family is the driving force behind social progress and development.”
No wonder the Group of the Friends of the Family announced, “We believe that genuine and effective sustainable development may not be achieved without the family.”
No wonder Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the General Assembly, “We must not forget that the family is a vital partner in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the many other objectives set by the international community during the last decade.”
No wonder Bangladesh Ambassador Iftekhar Chowdhury told the General Assembly, “The attainment of every Millennium Development Goal must begin with the family. The family is the main instrument of societal transformation.”
And no wonder US representative Wade Horn told the General Assembly, “The state’s foremost obligation is to respect, defend, and protect the family as an institution.”
Surely to nurture and strengthen the family is to enable and maximize sustainable development, whereas to ignore or undermine the family is to invite deterioration and eventual disaster, as explained by Mexico’s Ana Teresa Aranda. “It is no secret that the vulnerability suffered by our peoples—insecurity, crime, abuse, abandonment of the elderly, orphaned children and violence—causes enormous imbalances and obliges us to spend millions on institutional policies that in the end can do no more than manage those ills. If we go on like this, a time will come when all our tax resources will not suffice to counter the effects of vulnerability. If we wish to address the causes, we must look at the family.”
As the Commission on Population and Development addresses the critical need for accelerated sustainable development now and in the future, we urge that all efforts be consistent with and centered around strengthening marriage and family.
We further urge that going forward, all proposed reports and recommendations of the Commission be assessed in terms of their impact on marriage and family.
To that end, we offer free online resources, including the digital edition of our acclaimed book, Family Capital and the SDGs, available for viewing and download at https://familycapital17sdgs.org.
Perhaps Alex Haley said it best: “The family is our refuge and our springboard; nourished on it, we can advance to new horizons. In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”