NEW YORK — The 2014 Transatlantic Summit, hosted by the newly-formed Political Network for Values, gathered pro-life and pro-family legislators from four continents to recognize and strengthen the family’s role in sustainable development.
The United Nations Summit, which was timed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, was intended to “send a message of hope to the world” and “raise awareness on the essential role of the family and its values among decision makers.”
“Never before have so many political leaders worked together to support marriage and family policy in their home countries,” Lola Velarde, director of the Institute for Family Policies and chief event organizer, told Aleteia. “Eventually this will lead to implementing better family policies at the local level.”
One of the keynote speakers, Zoltan Balog, the Hungarian Minister for Human Capacities, told participants that "family is the most important national resource of Hungary.” He said that Hungary is committed to marriage between one man and one woman, since it is the best structure for children.
Balog also told the Summit that Hungary is working to defend the personhood of all human beings, from the moment of conception. He quoted from the new Hungarian constitution, which says: "Human dignity shall be inviolable. The fetus shall be protected from the moment of conception."
Other keynote speakers, US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and Colombia’s Presidential runner-up Oscar Zuluaga described how their campaigns emphasized the role of the family.
Professor Helen Alvare of George Mason University denounced “women’s rights” organizations that only focus on expanding access to abortion and birth control, pointing out the contradiction that they want concessions for women’s family lives, but then claim that family is an economic burden on women.
"The centerpiece of women’s economic freedom is not sex without babies,” Alvare said. “If a government claims to value people, it has to prioritize the family. To prioritize the family, it must prioritize procreative sexual expression.”
At the conclusion of the Summit, policy-makers from Slovakia, Mexico, Kenya, Chile, Spain, Qatar, the United States and others released a declaration on their shared values addressed to the U.N. Secretary General, sharing their concern that the family must be strengthened as a driver of development.
The Declaration on the Rights of the Family affirms that “family is the natural and fundamental unit of society” and that "everyone has the inherent right to life, commencing from the moment of conception until natural death.”
“This is the first time so many political, social, and academic leaders have gathered at the UN to strengthen the family,” said Velarde. “It is very important that the Declaration on the Rights of the Family, signed by more than 200 elected representatives, was handed into the Secretary General because the family needs to be included in the post-2015 agenda.”
The United Nations is currently finalizing its Sustainable Development Goals, a series of goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals as a guide for nations’ development priorities. The draft contains 17 goals, but never once mentions the family.
Stefano Gennarini, legal analyst at the Center for Family and Human Rights Institute, recalled that during negotiations on the draft, several delegations actually asked that any mention of the family be deleted from the proposed goals.
Observers at the United Nations believe that the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals is the most important UN process on marriage and abortion issues since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.
The Political Network for Values hopes that the Transatlantic Summit will encourage the United Nations to remember the family in its plan for sustainable development. Negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals resume in January.