The Family Disappeared from UN Document on Sustainable Development at CPD—Again

At this year’s recently concluded UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD55), sadly, recognition of the key role of the family in sustainable development was once again sidelined. Family Watch had had the opportunity to brief a number of UN diplomats before negotiations began and encouraged them to ensure the role of the family was appropriately recognized.


Needless to say, we were thrilled when we learned that no less than 33 references to the family had been proposed. As Director of UN Activities for Family Watch, I was able to participate in person at CPD and delivered an oral statement on the UN floor calling for the pivotal role of the family in development be recognized noting:


“ …the family as the basic unit of society contributes immensely to national development and to the achievement of major objectives of every society including the eradication of poverty, the protection of children, the right to education and health, the empowerment of women and girls, and the creation of stable, peaceful and secure societies.”


By way of background, six out of the eight previous annual CPD sessions ended in a stalemate when nations failed to agree on a negotiated text. This was largely due to the insistence of powerful nations and groups to include controversial language on abortion, comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and LGBT-related policies and their refusal to recognize the sovereign rights of nations in the text.


Last year at one point, the relevance and the future of this Commission were even called into question during debates on the methods of the Commission’s work.


In the end, unfortunately, and to our dismay, this year every proposed reference to the family was horse traded out by family-friendly countries in order to get the more controversial sexual and euphemistic terms that advance abortion and direct references to comprehensive sexuality education out of the text.


We appreciate the nations that worked so hard to remove these problematic terms, and we are pleased to report that the outcome document for this years’ commission contains no references to CSE, abortion or LGBT issues. Further, it does include a strong reference to the sovereign rights of nations and calls for respect for religious and cultural values when implementing the document.


Not such good news, however, is inclusion of the controversial terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” and “sexual and reproductive health services” in the text.


With regard to removal of the family from the text, it is ironic that even the left-leaning UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in 2011 noted that “The very achievement of development goals depends on how well families are empowered to contribute to the achievement of those goals.” (SG 2011 Family Report (A/66/62–E/2011/4))


The absence of the family in the text does not bode well for next year’s Commission when the theme will be “Population, education and sustainable development.”


We expect that such a theme will open the door for strongly renewed efforts to introduce comprehensive sexuality education and more.


As always, Family Watch will not let our guard down, and we will be monitoring and reporting to you important developments at the UN that affect families worldwide.