GENEVA – On 22 June, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the protection of the family, focusing on the role of the family in the protection and promotion of the rights of older persons. The resolution reaffirms the centrality of the family in ensuring strong, healthy societies in which the fundamental human rights of every individual can be properly guaranteed.
The resolution confirms the fundamental role of the family in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable members of society. It also calls upon Member States to strengthen support for the institution of the family for the role it plays in the fulfilment of the rights of older persons.
Reaffirming the status of the family
A number of States, however, refused to support the resolution without an acknowledgement that “various forms of the family exist.” In recent years, this phrase increasingly has been used as a wedge to attempt to dilute the understanding that the family is normatively and ideally based on the natural phenomenon of a mother, a father, and their children.
The resolution nevertheless passed by a resounding margin and enjoyed cross-regional support, with thirty Member States voting in favour, twelve voting against, and five abstaining. Attempts by opposing States to reorient the resolution around “families” rather than the family as an institution, as well as to paint the family as a usual source of human rights abuses, were also defeated.
“International law recognises that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society. The protection of the family is aimed not at creating rights for groups at the expense of individuals, but rather at ensuring that the rights of all people are safeguarded through a culture of strong family units and intergenerational solidarity. The need for this is even clearer when it comes to older persons, who require particular care and support within their families,” said Rubén Navarro, Senior UN Counsel for ADF International , who provided support to pro-family Member States in their endeavour.