UN passes pro-family resolution without U.S. support
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 7/16/15, 11:50 am
The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution in support of the traditional family in early July. The vote—29 in support and 14 against, with four abstentions—split the council along clear lines, with a group of mostly poorer developing nations across Asia, Africa, and South America defeating the United States, all the European nations, and a few other developed countries who opposed the resolution.
The resolution, co-sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Russia, reaffirms the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society and urges member states to take action to support and strengthen families. It notes that the “contribution of the family in society and in the achievement of development goals continues to be largely overlooked and underemphasized.” The resolution encourages countries to set pro-family policies that support family functions such as caring for the elderly and balancing work and parental responsibilities. China, India, Kenya, Algeria, and Vietnam also voted for the resolution.
Supporters heralded the document as a “monumental development for the pro-family movement,” said Rebecca Oas of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM).
Critics condemned the action as exclusive and harmful. The Sexual Rights Initiative called it a “damaging and divisive resolution” intended to deny rights to individual family members and elevate “the family without acknowledging that families perpetuate patriarchal oppression, traditions and harmful practices, and that human rights abuses do occur within families.”
Opponents, including the United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, and Japan, argued the resolution was not inclusive to varied forms of family and risked harm to nontraditional families.
Supporters disagreed: “The draft text continued to impose a no one-size-fits-all definition and left this matter within discretion of each state and society,” said Egypt, according to a UN report from the meeting. The resolution recognized single-parent, child-headed, and intergenerational households in its language. The U.S. and other states argued the council needed to directly mention and recognize “different forms” of families.
South Africa introduced an amendment to the resolution recognizing that various forms of families exist. Russia, arguing the amendment added no value to the text, pressed for a “no-action motion” on the amendment and asked that the body not even debate the amendment. The motion passed by a 22-21 margin, with three abstentions.
Others pressed the council on language attributing rights to families. Ireland, who voted against the measure, said the resolution, “first recognized families as rights holders, which was inconsistent with international human rights law, which recognized only individuals as human rights holders.”
The resolution requests that the high commissioner prepare a report on the impact of various states implementing recommended family protection provisions.
Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.