Doha, Qatar: 16-17 April 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be addressing you today, in my capacity as the High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. I would like to thank Her Highness, Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser and Mr. Saad Al-Muhannadi of Qatar Foundation for inviting me here today.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations International Year of the Family—a momentous year, as it is also the final year of the Millennium Development Goals. Today, we are reminded of the integral role the family unit plays within today’s turbulent society.
The issue of the family is important to the UNAOC. Our initiative focuses its activity around four priority areas that Family plays an essential role in: youth, education, migration and media. These central pillars, necessary for reducing conflict and tensions between societies, are also interconnected with the concept of “family”. The Alliance of Civilizations is a platform on which the international community can build greater understanding and communication to stem the tide of intolerance and misunderstanding, which is sometimes deliberately promoted for political ends. It can offer the family a new perspective of hope and peace for security and development. As the first line of educators, parents and family members educate children of the importance of understanding and respect for people of different cultural, racial and religious backgrounds.
It is worth noting that since I took office, I designated Sustainable Development as an additional focus area for the future vision of the Alliance. We say at the UN that Peace, Security, Human rights and development are inter related and they will be no development without Peace and Security and I want to add that protecting families is a moral obligation if we want to advance development.
I would like to recap that the eight (8) goals that we identified in 2001, re-affirmed that the MDG’s are strongly linked to family issues. As stated in the 2000 Millennium Declaration: “Families are essential to achieving peace, safety, justice, unity, and prosperity in the world.” In order to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, the Practical Plan of Action recognizes the obligation to focus efforts not only at the State level, but also at the local level and on the family.
We all have the responsibility to achieve the MDGs through smart, efficient and innovative partnerships that strongly aim at sharing information, knowledge and skills. Our efforts must continue after 2015, when the MDGs will become Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which again will require the strong and basic support of families and of other civil society organizations.
If we are to make serious progress on our international development goals, promote broader peace and security and achieve social development for all peoples we must be willing to invest in and protect the family so that we can use this human capital in a way which fosters a better life for all.
Through support for the family we can work to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1) by promoting cash transfer programs, which target families and identify the family as the entry point for alleviating poverty and hunger. By providing parents with the resources to educate their children and by encouraging parents to be actively involved in their children’s education we can make progress towards achieving universal primary education. (MDG 2)
Through encouraging the empowerment of women and recognition of the role of men and boys to promote and respect women we can foster achievement of MDG 3. Through educating and promoting access to clean drinking water and sanitation we can make real progress towards addressing child mortality.
During the “Fourth Global UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum“, here in Doha, we recognized the important development of the MDGs in relation with our coexistence, respect among all human being and survival in our planet. The global community must come together to overcome these roadblocks and implement the policies and programmes that can address our global problems and reach the goals envisioned for sustainable and peaceful development.
In all of these initiatives, my home country, Qatar, has played a leading role in promoting the family within the countries but also in promoting the role of the family around the world. In 2004 Doha was the host of the International Conference for the Family to mark the 10th anniversary of the international year of the family and adopt the Doha Declaration on the family. In addition the Doha International Institute for Families Studies and Development is a leader in promoting research and greater understanding of the importance of protecting and promoting the family. These initiatives, along with the continued leadership of the Qatar Mission to the United Nations on the annual resolution of the Commission on Social Development on the role of the family help to promote greater understanding of the importance of supporting the family.
I hope that this result, in our part of the world will continue to strengthen awareness of family issues among national governments, local authorities, NGOs, parliamentarians, academia, the private sector and families.
Another way to recognize the significance of the Family in the process of Development is the idea of inter-generational equity. What we do today as Family will have a profound impact on the lives of future generations. And that impact may be something over which those generations have nothing to say because we took the decision, today, in our time. That’s why I say; we are here to make decisions about the future, not necessarily our own future, but that of children yet unborn. We are called upon to make wise decisions and to act responsibly so that what we do today will not compromise the ability of future generations to realize the benefits that we have enjoyed
Last but not least, during my time as the President of the General Assembly I also sought to promote the vital role of parents in the family and within society. Therefore, as one of my final actions as the President of the General Assembly I proposed for the adoption a draft resolution declaring June 1st as the Global Day of Parents. The rights and responsibilities of parents not only have an impact on their children but also on society as a whole. For it is parents which serve as the first educators of children and are the ones who teach children to be productive and responsible citizens. The fundamental important role of parents is not only recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human rights but is also legally protected in almost every country of the world through the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Most importantly, we should recognize that Family is at the centre of sustainable development and addressing issues that fall within cultural heritage, dialogue, diversity, and cooperation are crucial in creating effective initiatives, business practices, policies, programs, and economic regulations and laws that adhere to the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
When the Post 2015 new Development Agenda is launched, we will have an evident role in its implementation. Empowering Families is key in creating global change and I believe that that we have the potential to shape a future that is sustainable and peaceful for all cultures and civilizations, leaving no one behind, and eliminating extreme poverty.
National and international governments alike must acknowledge the role of family as a social driver of development. We are in need of increased policies and practices that promote the integration of family perspectives in decision-making processes at both regional and international levels. Government officials must be constantly aware of urgent family issues this is not only important for each of our respective families, but for the HUMAN FAMILY at large. I hope you will join us in protecting the world’s families, as well as OUR world’s family, for a future of peace and development for all.