Family



Strong families are the bedrock of flourishing societies, and every person has the right to marry and found a family.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

The family is the fundamental building block of society

International law guarantees the right of men and women to marry and found a family

While some treaties call on states to provide family planning information, education, and access, this does not mean that states are compelled to provide any one particular method***

Family Fact

UN DOCUMENTS

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlights the right to marry and found a family, in addition to the fundamental role of the family in society

Abortion is not to be promoted as a method of family planning, and any attempts by governments to control family size violate the fundamental right of individuals to decide the number and spacing of children

Chapter VII of the ICPD discusses States' obligations with regard to family planning

ACTION POINTS FOR UN DELEGATES

  1. Insert language on the vital role of the family
    • Example from the 65th Session of the General Assembly "Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Intensifying Our Efforts to Eliminate HIV and AIDS" (A/RES/65/277)

    "Reaffirm the commitment to fulfill obligations to promote universal respect for and the observance​ and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all in accordance with the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other instruments relating to human rights and international law; and emphasize the importance of cultural, ethical and religious values, the vital role of the family and the community and, in particular, of people with and affected by HIV, including their families..." - Paragraph 38

  2. Insert language on family friendly polices and services
    • Example from the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women "Agreed conclusions on access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology, including for the promotion of women's equal access to full employment and decent work"

    "Promote the reconciliation of work and family responsibilities for women and men, as well as the equal sharing of employment and family responsibilities between women and men, including by: designing, implementing and promoting family-friendly legislation, policies and services, such as affordable, accessible and quality care services for children and other dependent persons, and parental and other leave schemes; undertaking campaigns to sensitize public opinion and other relevant actors to these issues; and promoting measures that reconcile care and professional life and emphasize men's equal responsibilities with respect to household work" - Paragraph 22 (gg)

  3. Insert language on inter-generational solidarity
    • Example from the 65th Session of the General Assembly "Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing" (A/RES/65/18)

    "Recognizes the importance of strengthening inter-generational partnerships and solidarity among generations, and in this regard call upon Member States to promote opportunities for voluntary, constructive and regular interaction between young people and older generations in the family, the workplace and society at large." - Paragraph 13

  4. Include strong language condemning forced reproductive health policies and procedures
    • Example from the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women "Agreed conclusions on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls" (E/2013/27 E/CN.6/2013/11)

    "Condemn and take action to prevent violence against women and girls in health-care settings, including sexual harassment, humiliation and forced medical procedures, or those conducted without informed consent, and which may be irreversible, such as forced hysterectomy, forced caesarean section, forced sterilization, forced abortion, and forced use of contraceptives..." - Paragraph 34B(aaa)

* See also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 23.1, the Convention on the Rights of the Child Preamble, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Preamble (x). ​**The UN Human Rights Committee considered this Article in the case of Joslin v. New Zealand, U.N. Doc.CCPR/C/75/D/902/1999. It stated that, "Article 23, paragraph 2, of the Covenant is the only substantive provision in the Covenant which defines a right by using the term 'men and women', rather than 'every human being', 'everyone' and 'all persons'. Use of the term 'men and women', rather than the general terms used elsewhere in Part III of the Covenant, has been consistently and uniformly understood as indicating that the treaty obligation of States parties stemming from article 23, paragraph 2, of the Covenant is to recognize as marriage only the union between a man and a woman wishing to marry each other." *** Non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, and Treaty Monitoring Bodies have attempted to narrow the definition of family planning to mandate the provision of contraceptives, but this has no basis in international law. **** See also the Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 24(f), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 23.1(b).​