The Human Rights Council this morning held a panel discussion on the protection of the family and its members.
Jane Connors, Director, Research and Right to Development Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in an introductory statement said the family and the rights of its members were addressed in provisions in a range of international human rights treaties. Despite these international legal obligations, women continued to experience, in varying degrees, discrimination within the family. Violence and exploitation within the family were also serious human rights concerns, as was the situation of single-parent families, which were often headed by women.
Moderating the discussion was Yvette Stevens, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in Geneva. The Panelists were Aslan Khuseinovich Abashidze, Member of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Hiranti Wijemanne, Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child; Zitha Mokomane, Chief Research Specialist, Human and Social Development Research Programme, Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa; Karen Bogenschneider, Rothermel Bascom Professor of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin; and Rosa Inés Floriano Carrera, Coordinator, Department of Life, Justice and Peace, Caritas, Colombia.
Ms. Stevens said that the discussion today would guide the Council on the road forward in addressing the issue of protecting the family. However, this panel discussion was not about defining a family; the definition of the family in each State was different and it was up to States themselves to decide what groups were considered a family.
Mr. Abashidze said the protection of families by States and societies was an important principle in international human rights law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also defined obligations of States to provide assistance and protection to the family. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its general comment on Article 19, recognized that the definition of the family was different from State to State.