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U.S. HRC Joint Statement on Protection of the Family
July 6, 2015

Resolution on “Protection of the Family”
General Comment by the Delegation of the United States of America—joined by the Delegations of Canada and Australia
Human Rights Council 29th Session
July 3, 2015

Thank you Mr. President.

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Our countries strongly align ourselves with the cross-regional statement delivered by Estonia, which recognizes the basic principle that various forms of the family exist, and indeed thrive in each and every one of our countries.

Mr. President,

Ensuring that families are safe environments where all members are able to reach their full potential and enjoy their human rights is essential to ensuring the social development of all people. This overarching principle would have been the basis for a strong, consensus text that would be reflective of our shared values. The text before us, however, fails to recognize both the diversity of families, and the fundamental primacy of ensuring the human rights of all family members.

Mr. President,

All countries recognize that violence can occur in the context of families, and that this violence takes place in all regions of the world. Our countries remain deeply concerned about harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. We are also troubled by issues such as sexual abuse of children and domestic violence. These actions take place in the context of the family or are due to a decision by adult family members.

Though this resolution recognizes some of these human rights abuses, notably in OP20, the text appears to express more concern about the impact that these serious human rights abuses can have on the family unit, and social policies aimed at the family, than on the victims themselves. We are deeply disappointed that the text appears to represent a deliberate attempt to prioritize family cohesion and “The Family,” above human rights of individual family members.

These abuses are intolerable.  Their impact is often devastating and long lasting. This is why we cannot support a text that does not recognize the primacy of ensuring the human rights of individual family members above all else.

Mr. President,

We are also concerned with OP8, which states that the family unit is facing increasing vulnerabilities. Yet there is no mention of what these vulnerabilities may be.  Or how they threaten the family. Our countries recognize that there is still much to be done to support families in all their forms.  But this broad and inaccurate statement fails to recognize positive, inclusive, and effective social policies that celebrate diversity while promoting the well-being of families.

Mr. President,

Families are about caring for one another. They are about being able to depend on those closest to you in a time of need, and to celebrate our achievements together. These are principles that could have led the world community to a strong consensus resolution, rather than the text we have before us.

Our societies are all made up of families.  Families big and small.  Close families, new families, and certainly diverse families. We are the United Nations, our big family of nations, and we will continue to work to recognize, respect and protect the rights of the members of all families in our societies.