Doha International Family Institute concludes the Second Annual Family Policy Forum with the participants' recommendations
‘Ten Years Since the Issuance of Family Law in Qatar: Experiences and Aspirations’
In 2004 the Doha International Conference on the Family organized by the Supreme Council of Family Affairs, celebrated the United Nation’s 10th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family. The conference produced substantial high-quality global research on the family, prompted thousands of members of civil society to express their views regarding the meaning and centrality of the family, and ended with the UN General Assembly taking note of the conference’s outcomes. The event provided the world with an important moment for recommitment to long-standing norms related to religious and ethical values, human dignity, marriage, parent and child relations, and the right of children to be raised within a loving and caring family.
The Doha International Conference on the Family was welcomed by General Assembly Resolution A/RES/58/15 (15 December 2003). The Conference analyzed and reaffirmed Article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.” The Conference brought together a broad range of participants, representing diverse cultures, political systems and faiths. The participants were united by the common understanding that, by protecting “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16(3)), communities, nations, regions and the world will not only encourage sustainable development, but further the intercultural understanding that is the necessary foundation for a stable, secure and just world.
As noted by then UN Secretary General Kofi Anan in his report on the 10th Anniversary Celebration, the family has significant “potential to contribute to national development and to the achievement of major objectives of every society and of the United Nations, including the eradication of poverty and the creation of just, stable and secure societies.” Report of the Secretary General, A/59/176 (23 July 2004) at paragraph 4. Unfortunately, this potential “has generally been overlooked.” The conference was designed to remedy this oversight by reaffirming fundamental international norms related to the family – and establishing proposals for action – that will provide a firm foundation for cooperative research, discussion and policy development related to family life.
The preparatory process of the Doha International Conference on the Family included a regional dialogue organized by an NGO Working Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee worked with government representatives from Sweden and Malaysia to organize and conduct regional dialogues in Stockholm, Sweden, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Additional government meetings were held in Cotonou, Benin; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Riga, Latvia. The process was also enriched by the World Congress of Families III in Mexico City, Mexico.
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and then-President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, chaired the Doha International Conference on the Family. Topical sessions of the Conference addressed such questions as The Family in the Third Millennium, The Legal and Religious Foundations for the Family in the Third Millennium, The Family and Education and The Family and Social Dialogue.
During the two-day meeting, the Doha Declaration on the Family was negotiated by a distinguished Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, composed of representatives from governments around the world. The balanced and careful language of the Declaration was finalized after thorough consideration of all committee views. The Declaration reaffirms commitments of the international community contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other UN documents. The opening paragraphs review the goals and objectives of the 10th Anniversary and recall the preparatory process of the Doha International Conference on the Family. The operative paragraphs reaffirm international commitments to the family and call for appropriate actions to implement those commitments.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a consensus resolution on 6 December 2004, again welcoming the Doha International Conference on the Family and noting its outcomes, which include the Doha Declaration A/RES/59/111 (6th December 2004).
The Doha International Conference on the Family encouraged a broad range of partners to consider how best to provide the family with the “protection by society and the state” assured by Article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Governments, academicians and non-governmental organizations can use the outcomes of the Conference as the basis for future action:
The Family in the New Millennium: World Voices Supporting the “Natural” Clan, a three-volume set published by Praeger Publishers, includes a preface by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and then-President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, UN documents relating to the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family and a selection of 67 papers (from the more than 200 papers considered) which contain research findings and proposals for action.
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. Article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
There is no common denominator better able to bridge the gap between different people from around the world despite conflicts and diversity, than the firm belief in the sacredness of the family. All divine laws have blessed this sacred institution, forging a strong bond between males and females which conform to human nature in bearing and raising new generations that contribute to building civilizations.
The concept of the family, as we all know, has, at times, been defined in a manner contrary to that of religions, social rules, and human consciousness. We should combat these notions, especially those that try to disguise them under the guise of modernity. Modernity cannot be accepted as a pretext to bypass religious, social, and cultural values which have long shielded and maintained the family.
The family today has more responsibility than ever before. If its role of rearing and teaching children is carried out in a good manner, the family can contribute to the strengthening of dialogue and forgiveness, as it remains the first institution where we form and develop the art of building relationships with others.
The importance of the family as a school encourages us to further protect and develop it, so that it can perform its role in preparing more open-minded people who will accept rational thought, be open to dialogue with others, and learn from differences in opinion, rather than accepting extreme views without proof. This process of development strengthens national entities and promotes the culture of democracy, which is in accordance with ongoing calls for cultural dialogue and the possibility of coexistence among nations.
There is an urgent need for a new mentality that sees the family as part of the solution sought after, rather than part of the problem. In other words, what is required is a mentality that doesn't treat the family as a burden to development, but rather as a driving force behind it.
Such a choice necessitates the adoption of a reference that safeguards the right of the family, and ensures the integration of this institution in such a way as to turn into an effective factor in all programs aiming at national, regional and international development. This goal, we hope, will be achieved through the Doha Declaration following this conference.
The Declaration on its own cannot be sufficient unless we work together for an effective apparatus capable of concretizing the concepts and achieving the goals. It is in this context that I invite you to think of the possibility of founding a Center for Family Research and Studies with the primary task of instituting what may possibly be called Family Science for the Third Millennium as the intellectual reference for this institution. The same center will also be invited to take constructive initiatives aiming at mutual coordination and implementation among the national, regional and international programs related to the family.
For this reason, we are required to work hand in hand for the family at the outset of this new decade in order to overcome all legal, political, economic and social barriers that threaten the family structure or prevent it from carrying out its noble mission.
The Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), formerly known as Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development (DIIFSD), was established by Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development in 2006. The Institute has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC).More All Grants
‘Ten Years Since the Issuance of Family Law in Qatar: Experiences and Aspirations’
Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) participated in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) First Ministerial Conference on the subject: “Towards an OIC Approach to Empower the Marriage and Family Institution in the Member States and Preserve its Values”, hosted by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Jeddah, 8-9 February 2017.