Cooperation with the United Nations Commission for Social Development:
Each year, a Working Group of the Committee members develops a Statement on family concerns. International NGOs are invited to sign this statement which is submitted to the CSD for inclusion as an official document for consideration by the government representatives at the Session of the Commission.
The following statement was drafted by the Vienna NGO Committee on the Family and signed by a number of member organisations

Commission for Social Development
9-18 February 2011

Item 3 (a) of the provisional agenda
Follow-op to the World Summit for Social Development
And the twenty-fourth Special session of the General Assembly
Priority theme: poverty eradication
Statement submitted by Associated Country Women of the World, International Confederation of Christian Family Movements, International Council of Psychologists, International Council of Women, International Federation for Family Development, International Federation for Home Economics, International Inner Wheel, International Kolping Society, Soroptimist International, non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council
The Secretary-General has received the following statement, which is being circulated in accordance with paragraphs 36 and 37 of Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.
There is a persistence of poverty situations, in spite of commitments and programmes of action to eradicate poverty, at both national and international levels. The distance existing between respective administrations and the social reality of hunger and malnutrition could point to a possible cause for the lack of solutions and the resultant persistence.
Widespread poverty particularly affects developing countries. Deficient or non-existent infrastructure services, injustice and corruption can create social dysfunction, which can be further exacerbated by natural disasters, such as drought, as well as by armed conflicts, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which can wipe out vast population areas in numerous countries.
The eradication of poverty requires universal access to basic social services such as education, health care, safe water supply and sanitation measures.
Poverty, however, is also part of the social structure of several developed countries, that “fourth world” that arises unexpectedly before our eyes.
The considerable distance between the dehumanizing situation of poverty and a remote administrative system calls for interceding agencies, and there is no more effective go-between than the family; the safety net where the basic needs are met, even in crisis situations, such as poverty, unemployment, delinquency, drug addiction and HIV/AIDS. Children, youth, the disabled and elderly members all benefit from a readily available network, such as the family, concurrent to State infrastructures.
All over the world, families are as different as they are alike. Families are essential to the world’s future, and are the cradle of generations to come. Everywhere the strengths and weaknesses of families reflect the fabric of society. As the world’s basic human relationship, the family has survived thousands of years, adapting to changing socio-economic conditions and the progress of humanity.
Greater attention should hence be focused on families and on promoting awareness of the contribution made by families the world over.
A family dimension should therefore also be implicit in all policies and documents related to poverty.
* * * * * * * * * * *

Commission for Social Development
Forty-Sixth Session
7-16 February 2008

Item 3 (a) of the provisional agenda
Follow-op to the World Summit for Social Development
And the twenty-fourth Special session of the General Assembly
Priority theme: Promoting full employment and decent work for all
“Social Development requires the assurance to everyone of the right to work and the free choice of employment. Social progress and development require the participation of all members of society in productive and social useful labour” (Declaration of Social Progress and Development, General Assembly Resolution 2542 (XXIV) 11 December 1969)
“Particular efforts by the public and private sectors are required in all spheres of employment policies to ensure gender equality, equal opportunity and non-discrimination on the basis of race/ethnic group, religion, age, health and disability, and full respect for applicable international instruments”. (Chapter 3, Expansion and Productive Employment and Reduction on Unemployment, paragraph 45, Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development, The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, page 37).

Women and men are entitled to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.
Social welfare policy should be an integral element in a broad strategy of increasing employment opportunities for both women and men.
The three core issues addressed by the World Summit for Social Development: the alleviation and reduction of poverty; the expansion of productive employment; and the enhancement of social integration are crucial objectives in order to achieve sustainable development.
These objectives should encompass the task of addressing and redressing the global inequalities and the wastage of human resources generated by the lack of productive employment.
The unemployed are excluded not only from economic benefits: social insurance, pension and medical care, but also from social activities and participation in community life.
It is imperative that offers of employment exclude forced, bonded and slave labour and unacceptable forms of child labour.
The degradation of labour must be vigorously located and eradicated in the labour market.
Social welfare policy should be an integral element in a broad strategy of increasing employment for both women and men and that such work is as productive as possible.
What are often perceived as economic policies actually affect and are affected by the ties that exist within family units and the resources generated by families.
Labour market programmes are generally focused on individuals as units of labour, rather than on family units, as the basis of primary human societies.
Families are a reflection of the strength and weakness of the social fabric and, as such, offer a comprehensive approach to, and understanding of, global problems.
Unemployment is one of the problems faced by families. In many cases a family can provide a buffer when one or more of the family members are unemployed.
The family dimension, therefore, should be taken into consideration when dealing with programmes on employment and decent work.
Special attention should be given to the need for multilateral approaches to facilitate family and work responsibilities. These should include flexible working hours or part-time work for women and men and child-care facilities to assist parents to take care of their children.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Forty-fourth session of the Commission for Social Development 8-17 February 2006
Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development and twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly
(a) Priority theme: Review of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty
(b) (iv) Family issues, policies and programmes

- - - - - - - -
“Progress in eradicating poverty has been mixed. In many countries, the number of people living in poverty has increased since 1995. In many developing countries, social service provision has deteriorated, leaving many without access to basic social services …” – item 10, chapter II. Resolution S-24/2, Twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, 15 December 2000)
“We will spare no efforts to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and deshumanizing conditions of extreme poverty to which more than a billion of them are currently subject” – (item 11 “Development and Poverty Eradication” 55/2. United Nations Millennium Declaration, New York 6-8 September 2000)
- - - - - - - -
In Resolution A/RES/50107 of January 1996, the General Assembly referred to the Observance of the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty, and proclaimd the first United Nations decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006).
In December 1996, the General Assembly declared the theme for the Decade, as a whole, to be “Eradicating poverty in an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of humankind”.
Looking as far back as August 1974, the Bucharest World Population Conference regretted the fact that a considerable portion of the world population was living in regions of precarious food supply, that millions of its inhabitants were undernourished and that millions were faced with possible starvation (Report of the United Nations World Population Conference –19-30 August 1974 E/conf. 60/19).
In 1995, the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 6-12 March 1995) stated, in chapter 2 of its Programme of Action, that “over one billion people in the world live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in developing countries and particularly in rural areas of low-income Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the least developed countries”.
Unfortunately, conditions today have not altered significantly, and there is still persistent widespread poverty in many countries of the world.
When considering the reduction and elimination of extended poverty, attention should be given to the fact that the social and economic phenomenon of poverty is particularly complex and dramatic in its effects on the families, which should be empowered by having their capacities and self-help potentials increased.
Throughout the world, war, poverty, natural disasters and economic crises are tearing families apart.
Although in many cases the family can provide a buffer against short-term poverty due to such causes as unemployment, illness and declining capacities of ageing members, long-term poverty threatens the ability of families to meet the needs of their members and, ultimately, uproots entire families and causes the major dislocation of populations.
Poverty strikes more directly women with insufficient income who are living alone, women who lack resources to feed their family or women who are in charge of a sick or disabled member.
But in spite of strains and adversity, the family has proved resilient and a source of strength and inspiration for their members. Governments could do more to help families to adapt and thrive, so that they can fulfil their social, cultural, and economic roles. For the issue of the family not only involves individual families and their members but has a bearing on social cohesion and stability.
At the same time, family situations continue to change and diversify. Consequently, policies should be reviewed in an effort to keep abreast of changing family circumstances and a more comprehensive approach be taken to harmonize actions on behalf of families.
Families are main agents of sustainable development. Such development depends largely on the social, emotional, cultural and political maturity of all family members.
Recognition of the role families play in social development demands a comprehensive approach to issues such as the distribution of global resources, the eradication of poverty and assuring education and health for all in the context of a concept of human security.
Resolution S-24/2. of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly – quoted at the beginning of this document - recognizes that “the family is the basic unit of society and that it plays a key role in social development and is a strong force of social cohesion and integration … Greater attention should be paid to helping the family in its supporting, educating and nurturing roles, to the causes and consequences of family desintegration and to the adoption of measures to reconcile work and family life of women and men”(Commitment 4, item 56).
The family should also be considered as an important element of social progress and development-related activities within the United Nations system.
In this context, while the follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family is part of the agenda and the multi-year programme of work of the Commission for Social Development until 2006, the family, as the social entity directly involved in the problems affecting family members, should be maintained on the future agenda and programme of work of the Commission for Social Development as a core agent in social policy and development.
= = = = = = = =
24 November 2005
* * * * * * * * * * *

Statement to the 42nd Session
of the Commission for Social
Development, (4-13 Feb. 2004)
by Peter Crowley, Chairperson,
Vienna NGO Committee on the Family,
Representative of the International
Council on Alcohol and Addictions (ICAA)

Mr Chairman,
Thank you for giving me the floor to speak on behalf of the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions (ICAA) and other members of the Vienna NGO Committee on the Family - of which I am Chairperson. ICAA is one of the 67 member organisations of the Vienna NGO Committee on the Family, which was founded in 1985 and serves a world-wide network of family-oriented organisations, who come from civil society, research and university institutions.
May I respectfully draw your attention to the joint INGO Statement, Conference document E/CN.5/2004/NGO prepared by The Vienna NGO Committee on the Family and signed by INGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC.
As the United Nations Secretary-General stated in his message on the launch of the observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family on December 4th 2003 “families have always been the essential social unit in all societies.” This reiterates the Twenty-fourth Special Session of the General Assembly, (“Further initiatives for social development”, para. 56, Geneva 26 June-1 July 2000)” “that the family is the basic unit of society and that it plays a key role in social development and is a strong force of social cohesion and integration.” It would hence seem appropriate to take a family-focused approach to national and international co-operation for social development thus benefiting from partners directly involved in the intricate day-to-day challenges confronting society.
Mr Chairman, issues such as:
1. The paradigmatic changes in demographic development, also in developing countries is having long term consequences for society. In the 1960s the Total Fertility Rate in Less Developed Countries was 6.0 and today it is under 3.0 children per woman. The United Nations projects that before 2050, 80% of the world population will have below-replacement levels. The concern is not the drop in fertility rates, as such, especially as many of those children would be born into poverty. Of concern is the grade and speed of this development and the capacity of society to deal with its consequences. This fact in synergy with an ageing society leads to,
2. the breakdown in the intergenerational contract, where one generation guaranteed the economic survival in old age of the other.
3. The HIV/Aids pandemic, partly wipes out in many countries and regions, the parent or “carer generation”, leaving grandparents to look after their grandchildren, without any rights in this relationship, until they themselves become infirm and need to be cared for by the grandchildren, who are often too young and ill prepared to do so.
4. Ca. 50% of the world population is living in poverty on less than US$2 per day, mainly within a family structure.
5. Increasing migration through conflict, or economic necessities for survival, usually takes place within families.
6. The hunger of humans for knowledge, especially in childhood, youth and early man-and womanhood needs co-ordinated education policies,
These, Mr Chairman, are all issues, which go right to the core of the sustainable development of society, and hence would seem to necessitate policies which have a family orientation, in order to address issues of sustainable development comprehensively and holistically.
The challenging changes in society are usually interwoven with paradigmatic changes in families. For many years family issues have been regarded as problematical areas, which needed support, like another charity. Would it not, Mr. Chairman, be more meaningful instead, to recognise families as the human capital, wealth and resource of society, which they, without dispute, are, and hence regard families as the medium and motor, to attain true social and sustainable development?
We trust that the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004 will re-emphasise the permanence of family issues as central to the work and programmes of the Commission for Social Development. We further trust that the General Assembly of the United Nations will give priority to continue funding for family issues within the Secretariat of the United Nations, which is essential to maintaining collaboration and partnership between governments, International and Civil Society Organisations, for the well-being of families, which is central to the process of social and sustainable development
In conclusion Mr. Chairman, to observe the 10th Anniversary of IYF, The Vienna NGO Committee on the Family and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (DESA) have agreed to set up an Interactive-Internet-Forum, at with the support of international NGOs, which are in consultative status with ECOSOC. This has enabled the implementation of a study, under the chairmanship of the Vienna NGO Committee on the Family, to document the positive contributions of civil society to the well-being of families since IYF in 1994. The results of this study are to be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2004 (cf. Report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly - A/57/139, 2002).
Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Cooperation with the United Nations programm on the Family in New York:
The International Day of Families is observed every year on 15 May. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 47/237 of 20 September 1993, the annual observance of the International Day of Families reflects the importance that the international community attaches to families as basic units of societies as well as its concern regarding their situation around the world.
The International Day of Families provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families as basic units of society, as well as, to promote appropriate action. The Day can become a powerful mobilizing factor on behalf of families in all countries which avail themselves of this opportunity and demonstrate support of family issues appropriate to each society. The observance of the International Day of Families also offers a valuable opportunity for families to demonstrate their solidarity in the quest for better standards of life. The international themes for 1996-2000, were suggested by the Fourth Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Meeting on the International Year of the Family.
Governments, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, religious groups and individuals can promote a better understanding of the functions and problems, strengths and needs of families by organizing observances of the International Day of Families. The Day also provides an opportunity to increase knowledge of the economic, cultural, social and demographic processes affecting families.
The Family Unit of the Division for Social Policy and Development, within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, is the focal point for Family matters in the United Nations system.
The theme chosen for 2008 is entitled:
"Fathers and Families: Responsibilities and Challenges"
Please go to the website below for text of United Nations Secretary General for May 15th 2008: