Principles on Family
Family First has released its ‘Principles on Family’ – 11 principles highlighting the meaning and significance of the term ‘family’. While there are many forms of family in today’s society, these principles hold true as to what we need to encourage and protect.
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.”
Principles on Marriage
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.
U.N. DOHA DECLARATION (2004)
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.