Family is a social institution that takes many forms. And nowadays, children’s experience of family varies between cultural, political and social systems, with each presenting a multitude of family structures, such as households with a single parent, same-sex parents, adoptive families, extended families, and children born from assisted reproductive technologies, among others. These have emerged in response to social change, urbanisation, conflict, scientific advancements and other circumstances. Yet despite this diversity - and in spite of conservative notions of what 'family' should be - one thing remains constant: that from a children’s rights perspective, family is an arrangement which provides care, nurture and development.
Below is an evolving list of resources dedicated to debating this issue.
Claiming back rights: the "family rights" fallacy
Increasingly we are seeing groups or organisations use the language of children’s rights to excuse or justify violations of human rights and to disguise xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, racist or nationalist views. Under the guise of protecting children, the family or national security, dissent is being crushed, demonstrations are being banned and discrimination against women, children and LGBT groups is being perpetuated. Children’s rights are not charitable. They are established within broader international human rights law and we are going to speak out against those who undermine this. It’s time we claim back rights.
UN resolution on 'protection of the family' threatens children's rights, denies family diversity
Rights groups have criticised the resolution for positioning the family unit - rather than individual familiy members - as the holder of rights, which fails to consider that abuse can occur within the family setting. It also fails to recognise the diversity of families, focusing on a heteronormative conception of family.
CRIN submission to the OHCHR on the 'protection of the family and the contribution of families in realising the right to an adequate standard of living'
This submission emphasises that discussions on the issue should not paint the family as an abstract holder of rights needing protection; rather they must explicitly position the family as a social unit with responsibilities to individual family members, including children, and underline States’ obligation to ensure their fulfilment.