You Haven’t Heard of the Doha Report?

If not, many people haven’’t either. The reason is that it has been almost totally suppressed by the public media and certainly by radical pro-abortion, anti-family activists at the United Nations. The reason is obvious. They didn’t like it. But it’s for that very reason we resurrect it here in this newsletter. The Doha International Conference for the Family was held 29–30 November 2004 in Doha, the capital of the tiny Arabian Gulf state of Qatar.

This conference was preceded by government meetings in Benin, Azerbaijan and Latvia during 2004. They included the World Congress of Families in March in Mexico City, Mexico, the Scandinavian Dialogue in May in Stockholm, Sweden, the European Dialogue in August in Geneva, Switzerland and the Asia Pacific Family Dialogue in October in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In addition, there were hundreds of civil society meetings in local areas in more than 134 cities around the world. Reports prepared for this International Conference included a publication collecting the results of over 200 community meetings and a preliminary volume of international scholarship.

We are pleased to reprint a report on the Conference by William L. Saunders, Human Rights Counsel at the Family Research Council and board member of the International Right to Life Federation.


 

On December 6, 2004, the United Nations General Assembly observed the final event of the “International Year of the Family.” The General Assembly officially received the reports of pro-family conferences that took place throughout the world over the course of 2004 and adopted Resolution A/59/L.21. The resolution, among other things, “[e]ncourages governments to make every possible effort … to integrate a family perspective in the planning process” and recommends that “governments, NGOs, academic institutions, etc. contribute to developing strategies and programs aimed at strengthening the livelihood of families.” It also “welcomes … the hosting of the Doha International Conference for the Family from 29-30 November 2004 by the State of Qatar and takes note of [its] outcome.” (The outcome of the Doha Conference was the Doha Declaration.) Of the 191 member states of the UN General Assembly, 149 signed onto the resolution as cosponsors. It was then adopted by the UN General Assembly by voice-vote consensus.

During the discussion of Resolution A/59/L.21, representatives of many nations took the floor to affirm foundational principles of human rights. Marriage is the foundation of families, families are the foundation of societies, and the role of government is to protect and support families. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Wade Horn spoke on behalf of the United States, noting that “the state’s foremost obligation is to respect, defend, and protect the family.” Strong endorsements also came from the developing countries of Africa, South America, and Asia, as well as from the Middle East.

The only dissent came from the European Union, which sought to use the occasion to advance various measures that are not part of international consensus and that undermine the family. For instance, the Dutch ambassador, speaking on behalf of the EU, stressed that “although the family is the basic unit of society, its concept and composition has changed in the course of time.” He also asserted that “it is not up to the state to impose limitations [on the right to found a family] on the basis of race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or any other status.” The ambassador was wrong. No source of international law establishes a right to found a family regardless of sexual orientation.

Fortunately, the rest of the world is taking care that the important, fundamental, common-sense understanding of marriage and the family (upon which every human society has always been built) is upheld as the model to be protected and commended. Pro-family people are hopeful and expectant that the UN, as well as other international agencies and organizations, will cooperate with this overwhelming consensus of the world’s nations, from every culture and circumstance, that the family founded upon marriage is to be protected and strengthened by governments, where necessary, and that a healthy family is the basis for a healthy society. If this is the result of observing the International Year of the Family, it will have been a very welcome observation indeed.

The declaration reflects international consensus language, stretching back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As such, it demonstrates the resolve of the world community to reaffirm its fundamental commitments to the family and to marriage which were made in the foundational human rights documents in the middle of the past century, and it offers a firm foundation for future cooperation among the nations of the world.

Anyone interested in a copy of the Doha Report can contact Mr. Saunders or our Life Issues Institute office.

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