Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World

Picture16ONE OF THE FIRST policy documents to signal that the family has a role to play in development is the Declaration on Social Progress and Development, proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 2542 (XXIV) in 1969., which reaffirmed  that “[T]the family is a basis unit of society and natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, particularly children and youth, should be assisted and protected so that it may fully assume its responsibilities within the community. Parents have the exclusive rights to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”(Article 4 of the Declaration).


The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes “The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family …” (Article 23 (2), ICCPR).


The International Covenant in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides that “[t]he widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children …” (Article 10(1), ICESCR).


In 1983, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted its first resolution on the issue of the family, with the title “Role of the family in the development process” (resolution 1983/23). The resolution recommended that States formulate and implement measures “addressed to the welfare of the family as a whole” as part of development policies (para. 2).


Adopted in September 2015, the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development signals the role of the family as a development actor, and commits States to “provide children and youth with a nurturing environment for the full realization of their rights and capabilities,” including through “cohesive communities and families” (General Assembly resolution 70/1, Annex, para. 25).


The Sustainable Development Goals and targets reflect a broad range of objectives that are important for the protection of the family and its members, and for the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living for all its members.


The family is also a key actor in the transmission of values within society that are vital for making the sustainable development agenda a reality, such as poverty reduction (Goal 1), healthy lives (Goal 3), inclusive and equitable quality education (Goal 4),  gender equality (Goal 5), and promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies (Goal 16).