The ICJ and other NGOs have issued a joint statement urging the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that a discussion of “protection of the family” in September will reflect diversity and focus on human rights.
The ICJ is concerned, due to the way the resolution to establish the Panel discussion has been pursued, that some States will seek to exploit it as a vehicle for promoting a narrow, exclusionary and patriarchal concept of “the family” that denies equal protection to the human rights of individuals who belong to the various and diverse forms of family that exist across the globe.
Previous UN resolutions on the family include language, agreed by all States, that recognized that “various forms of the family exist”. The authors of the resolution deliberately omitted this language, despite this issue being consistently raised by other States throughout the negotiations.
A wholly inappropriate procedural tactic was used by some states to block discussion of a proposed amendment that would have restored the “various forms” language.
Efforts to ensure that the resolution clearly acknowledged and addressed the fact that the family is also a setting in which human rights abuses sometimes take place were partially successful.
The Panel topic will be “on the protection of the family and its members to address the implementation of States’ obligations under relevant provisions of international human rights law and to discuss challenges and best practices in this regard” (emphasis added).
The resolution reaffirms “that States have the primary responsibility to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all human beings, including women, children and older persons”. Unfortunately, however, the text of the resolution still does not give enough emphasis to this important aspect.
The organizations affirm that they will continue to insist on recognition that various forms of the family exist, and that individuals should not be discriminated against as a result of the form of family to which they happen to belong.
States should not fail to promote and protect the rights of persons because they belong to particular forms of family.
The organizations will continue to insist that the promotion and protection of the human rights of individuals within all families must be of the paramount importance to the UN Human Rights Council.
The joint statement may be downloaded in PDF here: HRC26-Joint statement family resolution-Advocacy-Position paper-2014