by Breaunna Stone
Based out of New York City, and Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations is a headquarters where countries come together to discuss and make decisions on international policy that ranges from the sanctity of life, to water quality, to economic policy. The documents and language that are debated and written inside the UN have a great impact on countries and families all over the world.
United Families International (UFI) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with accreditation from the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) where they work to educate delegates and ambassadors on preserving the family.
Nine students university students will be accompanying UFI at the United Nations in New York this coming March 2017. United Families International has had a presence at the UN since 1998, but students and faculty have had a partnering presence with United Families International since 2012, giving students the opportunity to see family advocacy, and the impact of family policy on a up close and personal level. University students attending the United Nations with United Families International have had a learning and eye-opening experience each year. Students learn first-hand about what agendas are being pushed and how the language of the documents produced at the UN trickle down into national judicial systems. Judges use consensus UN language as a precedent for national legal standings. Since the language in UN documents is much more extreme that what most nations would adopt in their laws, this agenda finds its way into the national and local level by means of a different path. In a vivid and authentic way, students learn why protecting the family at the macro-level at the UN is so important to the micro-level and how they can better advocate for families.
Students attend parallel (outside the UN) and side events (inside the UN) and have the opportunity to participate and have a voice in those meetings with the goal to impact the outcome of the documents written – ultimately to be more family friendly. In the past and wherever possible, professors and students have had the opportunity to speak at a UFI side or parallel event, which helps the pro-family movement have a greater presence at the UN. The outcome of these events influence the language that is used in decision-making policy, hence the importance of a pro-family presence.
Along with UFI, the presence of university students and faculty, support and empower pro-family ambassadors and delegates to see that they are not alone in their views. Leaders of pro-family countries see they have others standing behind their cause. Students have opportunities to talk with delegates and learn that everyone has a voice and everyone can make a difference when they speak up. Their pro-family presence is powerful and needed at the United Nations.
Emma Zuniga, who attended the UN last year and will be attending again this year, said this about her UN experience: “Our presence as a pro-family organization at the UN made a huge difference. Most of what happens there is anti-family so we really stood out… As students we always tried to be friendly, have a happy attitude, and befriend everyone.”
United Families International has a mission to protect marriage, family, the sanctity of life, parental and religious rights. The World Family Declaration states, “‘throughout history, nations have been able to survive a multiplicity of disasters— invasions, famines, earthquakes, epidemics, depressions— but they have never been able to survive the disintegration of the family.’ We affirm the ancient wisdom that the world cannot be put in order without first putting in order the family.” Through our efforts at the United Nations this year, university students will join United Families International in taking a step forward in preserving the family.