April 2001, No. 39 Deadline for contributions: 20 May 2001

Written Statement by the Foundation for the Rights of the Family (PRODEFA)

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Written Statement by the Foundation for the Rights of the Family (PRODEFA)

Agenda item 3 (b) Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development Enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability in a globalised world:

The family is universal, the cornerstone of society, a unit of production and consumption. It is essential to the education and socialisation of children and youth and to the stabilisation of adults. It is the place where children, the elderly, the sick and disabled receive emotional and practical support.
The family unit is also a powerful agent of social change: factors such as demography, fertility, ageing population, environment, social welfare and development are ultimately influenced by family behaviour and by the decisions taken within the family unit.
The family in turn is influenced by external factors, among others modernisation, technology, poverty, armed conflicts and natural disasters. This causes the family to be extremely vulnerable and to require support from society and the State.
General Assembly Resolution 54/124 says in its preamble that "the basic objective of the follow-up to the International Year of the Family should be to strengthen and support families in performing their societal and developmental functions and to build upon their strength".
At the General Assembly Twenty-Fourth Special Session held in Geneva on 26-30 June 2000, the Secretary-General Kofi Annan referred to the social conditions in which so many people in poor countries live: "Such squalor", he said, "is an affront to our common humanity, and no country can be called prosperous so long as many citizens in the world are left to fend for themselves against ignorance, hardship and disease";
A rising number of families are living in poverty, especially single-parent families. In many parts of the world family are enduring the consequences of globalisation and the impact of sanctions;
Although in times of deep trouble the sense of family ties is a source of strength, extreme poverty can destroy, displace and separate families; in this situation, children, who are denied the right to be cared for, are the most vulnerable;
Resolution 54/12, entitled "Follow-up of the International Year of the Family" was adopted on the 20 January 2000 by the General Assembly on the report of the Third Committee. The draft resolution was sponsored by 39 countries.
In this resolution, the Secretary-General is requested to report on the General Assembly, at its fifty-sixth session, through the Commission for Social Development and the Economic and Social Council, on the appropriate ways and means to observe the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family, which.
The report to the Secretary-General to the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly, entitled "Follow-up to the International Year of the Family and the observance of its Tenth Anniversary" says in paragraph 11 that "The Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family constitutes an important opportunity to give a new impetus to the follow-up of the Year". It further says in paragraph 13 that the observance of the Tenth Anniversary "could culminate in the holding of plenary sessions of the General Assembly on the topics of families".

To eradicate poverty and to improve social protection systems of poor and vulnerable families should be a priority target.

Families should be supported and empowered to fulfil their multiple functions and responsibilities and realise their rights, with policies and programmes based on a functional and global approach to the family as basic provider of social security and protection.
It is necessary to increase awareness of family issues and problems and to promote knowledge of economic, social and demographic processes affecting families and their members.
There is a need to foster equal participation of men and women in family responsibilities and tasks, with the possibility for both to reconcile paid work and family life.
A review of the global situation of the family in 2004 should be included in the next multi-year programme of work of the Commission for Social Development.
As suggested by the General Assembly Resolution 24/54, the global situation of the family should be reassessed by the Commission for Social Development when adopting its next multi-year programme of work.
The follow-up to the International Year of the Family has now a clear target: the Tenth anniversary in 2004. This requires a close collaboration between the Family Unit, within the Division for Social Policy and Development, and non-governmental organisations. It is to be hoped that this co-operation will materialise into international meetings and other activities for the preparation for, and observance of, the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
Another important feature of this Tenth Anniversary could be the preparation, by an open-ended working group of the Commission for Social Development, of a declaration on the roles, rights and responsibilities of the family. Such a declaration could be based on provisions already existing in United Nations instruments, on statements on the family contained in Reports of United Nations International Conferences and also on documents prepared to this effect by non-governmental organisations.

Contact: Foundation for the Rights of the Family (PRODEFA), Avenida de Baviera 8, E-28028 Madrid, Spain, Email: rose@arrakis.es


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