Representatives of governments and members of civil society met in Doha, Qatar, on November 29-30, 2004, for the Doha International Conference for the Family, in commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
The conference was convened under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar and President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, State of Qatar.
The preparatory proceedings of the Doha Conference for the Family gathered the views of government officials, academicians, faith-based groups, non-governmental organizations and members of civil society.
The Conference recalls regional meetings in Cotonou, Benin; Mexico City, Mexico; Stockholm, Sweden; Geneva, Switzerland; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and other venues; and notes the proposals and views expressed during the Conference by all participants.
Reaffirming that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, as declared in Article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
Noting that 2004 marks the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations’ 1994 International Year of the Family and that the Doha International Conference for the Family was welcomed by UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/58/15 (December 15, 2003);
Acknowledging that the objectives of the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family include efforts to (a) strengthen the capacity of national institutions to formulate, implement and monitor policies in respect of the family; (b) stimulate efforts to respond to problems affecting, and affected by, the situation of the family; (c) undertake analytical reviews at all levels and assessments of the situation and needs of the family; (d) strengthen the effectiveness of efforts at all levels to execute specific programmes concerning the family; and (e) improve collaboration among national and international nongovernmental organizations in support of the family;
Taking into consideration the academic, scientific and social findings collected for the Doha International Conference, which collectively demonstrate that the family is not only the fundamental group unit of society but is also the fundamental agent for sustainable social, economic and cultural development;
Recognizing the need to address the challenges facing the family in the context of globalization;
Realizing that strengthening the family presents a unique opportunity to address societal problems in a holistic manner;
Reiterating that strong, stable families contribute to the maintenance of a culture of peace and promote dialogue among civilizations and diverse ethnic groups; and
Welcoming the announcement by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar and President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, State of Qatar, to create an international Institute for Study of the Family.
In this regard, we reaffirm international commitments to the family and call upon all governments, international organizations and members of civil society at all levels to take action to protect the family.
Reaffirmation of Commitments to the Family
We reaffirm international commitments to strengthen the family, in particular:
- We commit ourselves to recognizing and strengthening the family’s supporting, educating and nurturing roles, with full respect for the world’s diverse cultural, religious, ethical and social values.
- We recognize the inherent dignity of the human person and note that the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care before as well as after birth. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
- We reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to the widest possible protection and assistance by society and the State.
- We emphasize that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses and that the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized and that husband and wife should be equal partners.
- We further emphasize that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children from infancy to adolescence. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. All institutions of society should respect and support the efforts of parents to nurture and care for children in a family environment. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children and the liberty to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
Call for Action
Taking into account the above commitments, we call upon all governments, international organizations and members of civil society at all levels to:
- Develop programs to stimulate and encourage dialogue among countries, religions, cultures and civilizations on questions related to family life, including measures to preserve and defend the institution of marriage;
- Reaffirm the importance of faith and religious and ethical beliefs in maintaining family stability and social progress;
- Evaluate and reassess the extent to which international law and policies conform to the principles and provisions related to the family contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international commitments;
- Reaffirm commitments to provide a quality education for all, including equal access to educational opportunities;
- Evaluate and reassess government policies to ensure that the inherent dignity of human beings is recognized and protected throughout all stages of life;
- Develop indicators to evaluate the impact of all programs on family stability;
- Strengthen policies and programs that will enable the family to break the cycle of poverty;
- Evaluate and reassess government population policies, particularly in countries with below replacement birthrates;
- Encourage and support the family to provide care for older persons and persons with disabilities;
- Support the family in addressing the scourge of HIV/AIDS and other pandemics, including malaria and tuberculosis;
- Take effective measures to support the family in times of peace and war;
- Uphold, preserve and defend the institution of marriage;
- Take effective measures to strengthen the stability of marriage by, among other things, encouraging the full and equal partnership of husband and wife within a committed and enduring marital relationship;
- Establish effective policies and practices to condemn and remedy abusive relationships within marriage and the family, including the establishment of public agencies to assist men, women, children and families in crisis;
- Strengthen efforts to promote equal political, economic, social and educational opportunities for women and evaluate and assess economic, social and other policies to support mothers and fathers in performing their essential roles;
- Strengthen the functioning of the family by involving mothers and fathers in the education of their children;
- Reaffirm that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children;
- Reaffirm and respect the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
Cultural, Religious and Social Values
Parents and Children
We request the host country of the Conference, the State of Qatar, to inform the United Nations General Assembly of the proceedings of the Conference, including the Doha Declaration, in particular during the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family to be held on 6 December 2004.