This last weekend I was in Verona, Italy at the World Congress of Families VIII. The World Congress of Families (WCF) is an event that brings together people from around the world who want to strengthen and defend the family. It is attended by leaders, organizations, and families that believe in the natural family as the only fundamental and sustainable unit of society.
I stepped outside the venue at one point and stepped into a crowd of protesters. Really, who protests against the family?
It is a crazy world. And if wanting to protect life, families, marriage, mothers and fathers and freedom of religion is today’s definition of crazy, well, count me in…
Faithfully for Families,
Tori Black, President
The UN: Transforming Society by Restructuring the Family
United Families International: Dedicated to informing you about the issues and forces impacting the family.
Contributed by Tori Black
The following remarks were presented March 29, 2019 to the World Congress of Families held in Verona, Italy.
Where I live there is a kind of deciduous tree found in the mountains that surround my home. It is called an aspen. It has beautiful white bark and in the fall the leaves turn a lovely bright yellow. In the wind, the leaves “quake” and make a distinctive sound. An interesting aspect of the aspen tree is that it does not stand alone.
“One aspen tree is actually only a small part of a larger organism. A stand, or group, of aspen trees is considered a single organism with the main life force underground in an extensive root system. Before a single alpen trunk appears above ground, the root system may lie dormant for many years until the conditions are just right. In a single stand, each tree is a genetic copy of the other, and thus a stand of aspen is called a “clone.”
Most people, when they hear the words “United Nations” think of buildings in New York or Geneva with large assembly rooms where powerful people give important speeches. They may picture peacekeeping forces or humanitarian efforts to relieve suffering from famine or displacement, or to provide immunizations. This is work for which we are grateful.
But like that aspen tree, the UN is far more complex than it looks, and its reach is deeper and its interests broader than many realize. And, unfortunately, too few people understand the ways in which UN influence trickles down through our institutions and impacts our lives, our homes and our families. Often with dire consequences.
A colleague at the United Nations, Ryan Koch, likes to use a scene from the movie The Devil Wears Prada to explain the “trickle-down” effect of United Nations deliberations. It is a spot-on illustration bitingly delivered by Meryl Streep. Much like the hapless intern getting “educated” by Streep’s Amanda Priestly, most people don’t realize that the attitudes, trends, and policies that plague families today, often begin at the very top at the United Nations and get picked up and passed down through government agencies, private and public organizations, school curricula, and every type of media.
The founding of the UN and protective founding documents
Over 120 million civilian and military lives were lost due to World Wars in the 20th century. With a goal to avert further devastation, countries of the world came together to form an international entity that could promote peace. That idea was given life in the words of a charter signed and ratified by member states in 1945. While the UN was created to maintain peace, leaders determined that keeping peace involved more than settling disputes and deterring aggressors. And, therefore, the United Nations would concern itself not only with bombs and boundaries, but also achieving higher standards of living by addressing economic, social, health, and related problems, and encouraging respect for, and observance of, fundamental rights and freedoms for all regardless of race, sex, language, or religion.
To promote these fundamental rights, founding documents assured special protections to the family, parental rights, national sovereignty and religious freedom. For instance:
The U.N. Charter states that nothing within the charter “shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.”
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that the family is the “natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.” Furthermore, it states that “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.”
The two agreements that implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, respectively state that:
“The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children…State Parties…have respect for the liberty of parents…to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities…and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…and freedom either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
The family and traditional values under assault
Despite the intent and protections delineated in the UN’s founding documents, the wellbeing of the family is threatened at the United Nations. The natural intersection at the UN for impacting the family is through women’s issues. The United Nations has always been interested in promoting the standing of women in society. Early efforts focused on addressing discrimination against women. However, some early and influential UN leaders had radical views of motherhood and family. Under the direction of these officials, the United Nations began to focus on restructuring the family, in particular the role of mothers. The foremost of these social engineers argued that the family was “almost . . . pathological, root-less, isolated,” and doomed to “disintegration and sterility.” (Carlson, Allan; The Family as the Fundamental Unit of Society) Home and family were patriarchal, oppressive institutions. Women would find greater purpose and meaning in work outside the home. The work of raising children was best left to the state. To make this a reality, it was necessary to advocate for less restrictive abortion laws, better access to contraceptives, sex education that encouraged experimentation and disconnected sexual intimacy from its procreative function.
And how did these concepts find their way into our societies? Powerful bureaucrats within the UN used their positions, and the money at their disposal, to fund like-minded social scientists anxious to promote this ideology. This radical, new take on women and the family would be promoted at universities around the world, particularly in the west. Those scholars would later become national delegates at the UN, reinforcing and advocating for the restructuring of the family, but this time through the negotiation process at UN conventions. They could then guide the wording of documents to reflect their goals with regard to the traditional family. Home and family, in their minds, symbols of oppression towards women and children, with marriage as its foundation, would be replaced by a central state – it would be, in Allan Carlson’s words, a post-family society. It took decades for this ideology to take root, but this viewpoint is reflected in many of the attitudes regarding the family that we see in the western world.
So, rather than being a protective force for motherhood, as called for in its founding documents, at today’s United Nations, motherhood is frequently denigrated, religion and traditional culture and values are challenged, the rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children is assaulted, and developing nations struggle to exercise their sovereignty because they are dependent on aid.
The United Nations now subverts the wellbeing of the family through its social policy recommendations in both binding and non-binding documents. Treaties that were intended to protect women and children, and the associated committees that work to implement those agreements, have been radicalized. There are two principle treaties– CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and CRC, the Convention on the Rights of the Child – through which this is accomplished. Any country that has signed and ratified a UN convention or treaty is bound by its provisions and must answer to the committee charged with ensuring compliance.
The power of language
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.” The UN is redefining and manipulating language to turn our most revered institutions and protected rights upside down. It begins with periodic reviews of binding documents where the language and intent of the documents is reinterpreted and modified. Countries are instructed to adhere to increasingly radical objectives regarding the family. For instance, regarding motherhood, committee reports have recommended that nations treat motherhood as just a “social construct,” change laws that protect stay-at-home mothers, and encourage countries to change “existing social, religious and cultural norms” so mothers will want to work outside the homed.
In opposition to its founding documents, the United Nations interferes with the ability of parents to direct the education and moral instruction of their children. The Committee on the Rights of the Child pressures countries to guarantee the following rights to minor children:
- The right to privacy, even within the family home;
- The right to professional counseling without parental consent;
- The right to abortion and contraceptives, again, without parental consent;
- The right to full freedom of expression at home and in school;
- The ability to challenge their parent’s authority through the courts.
These “rights” could be interpreted in such a way to prohibit parents’ protecting their family through the use of internet filters designed to block pornography or prohibit listening to objectional music, or setting limits or boundaries on speech or behavior – basically, any of the things parents do to “ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own conviction”. The Committee on the Rights of the Child went so far as to instruct the country of Belize to set up a mechanism that would allow children to report their parents when their “rights” have been violated.
Restructuring the family by dismantling sex and gender
With measures like these, the UN seeks to fundamentally restructure the family. The UN’s objective, however, is to not only remake the family, it seeks to utterly transform the world’s cultures and mores regarding sex and gender. The United Nations has made sexual pleasure a “right” that requires consequence-free facilitation by governments through easy access to contraception and abortion, particularly for young people. Agencies such as WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNFPA advocate Comprehensive Sexuality Education that encourages sexual experimentation with disastrous results. The UN also seeks the legitimization and legalization of prostitution, euphemistically referred to as “sex work.” This is done in the name of combatting the “feminization of poverty” and advancing prostitution’s standing as a “legally protected profession with all the benefits of labor and social law.
One of the most dangerous objectives of today’s United Nations social policies, is the redefinition of gender. Feminist theory posits that sex is biological, but that gender encompasses social and behavioral differences which are entirely social constructs, that is, created and accepted, or enforced, by society, and so the UN began to use the word “gender” in place of “sex” when describing sexual dimorphism. What followed was the use of the term “gender equality” when advocating equality between men and women. The use and meaning of the word “gender” has gone through another transformation and is used to describe a host of identities including men who want to be women and women who want to be men – the transgendered. Ironically, when defining the attributes of transwomen, those who promote this change in definition employ the same sexual stereotypes they rail against when advocating for the empowerment of biological women. Nietzsche would be proud. In this light, the term “gender equality” is used to define equality between not just men and women, but all gender identities: cis-gender, queer, pan-sexual, transgender, non-binary, and the list goes on.
In addition to defining gender for men and women a “social construct”, the United Nations committees encourage rewriting textbooks and curricula to reflect the new definition, funding gender studies to further this ideology and integrating those courses into non-related fields of study, re-educating professionals – particularly those in the legal professions, and instituting public awareness campaigns to re-train the masses.
Enter the Human Rights Committee
The push to redefine gender norms and advance women’s rights is no longer limited to the committees associated with CEDAW and CRC. The Human Rights Committee is also advancing anti-family ideology. In October of 2018, the U.N. Human Rights Committee adopted a document expounding on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights making abortion a human right as an aspect of the right to life. And earlier this month, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution defining biological men as women and requiring their participation in women’s sports. This is despite the fact that men are, overall, 44% stronger than women. We already have numerous examples of biological men who identify as female competing against and beating their female opponents. This new chapter in the redefinition of gender and gender equality will do serious damage to women, it will destroy any distinctions between the sexes and will leave women less whole and less protected.
What can we do?
In March 2019, I met with a delegate to the UN from a small, economically strong, pro-life European country. When I asked him how his country deals with the pressure to change its abortion laws, the delegate said, “That is not a problem. Every nation has the sovereignty to direct its own social policy.” This, however, is not the reality for poor, developing countries in need of assistance. They are constantly under pressure to change their laws, their culture and their values in return for aid. Pope Francis has defined this as “ideological colonization” of developing nations by wealthy western countries. Wealthy nations may not deal with threats of withholding aid to force compliance in social policy, but they do face the threat of complaints filed with UN human rights committees. Once controversial issues like abortion and gender identity are made human rights, individuals can seek redress through the UN system. For instance, abortion rights organizations have assisted women from countries with conservative abortion laws in filing complaints with the Human Rights Committee against their home countries. The Human Rights Committee regularly rules against those countries and orders them to compensate the women denied access to abortion.
In Jenet Erickson’s account of her time at the Commission on the Status of women this year, she reminded us that twenty years ago, attorney and professor “Richard Wilkins spoke in defense of the family at the United Nations. He said that the family is the fundamental unit of society because it is ‘the sanctuary where women and men learn cooperation, sacrifice, love, and mutual support; the training ground where children learn the public virtues of responsibility, work, fair play, and social interdependence.’ And if ‘we don’t learn these skills within the home, there is little chance that we will learn them elsewhere.’” That inspiring man is no longer with us, but his spirit is, and we can and must add our voice to his in assisting those nations under pressure and resisting efforts to redefine and restructure the family. We are capable of more than we know because our cause is eternally significant. And like those groves of aspens, we do not stand alone.