The family in a changing world
and demographic perspectives for humanity
(Measures taken by the State to increase fertility, strengthen the family and family values)
Dr. Farooq Hassan* — D.Phil.; B A Juris, MA. M.Litt, (Oxon), DCL (Columbia), DIA (Harvard), Of Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister at Law, UK, Attorney at Law, US, Senior Advocate Supreme Court (QC) of Pakistan; President Pakistan Ecology Council; President, Pakistan Family Forum; Chairman, Pakistan League for Human Rights, amongst his major international recognitions include the Massachusetts Senate Honor of Recognition

Synopsis of address
of H.E. Ambassador Professor Dr. Farooq Hassan

as a plenary speaker in the 10 Anniversary Meeting
of the Rhodes Forum in 2012 on the theme of

“The Family in a Changing World and demographic perspectives for humanity”
on the 7/10/12

(October 7, 2012, Greece, Rhodes)



I am absolutely delighted to be here today to give my views on the crucially important topic of “The national population policy and family.” This subject is being examined from the perspective of the measures taken by the States to increase fertility, strengthen the family and family values. In more ways than one, this particular analysis is inextricably bound with the last topic mentioned in the list of vectors for discussion in this plenary meeting dealing with: “looking to the future: over-population or global depopulation”.

I have already in an earlier presentation in this year’s deliberations on family on the theme of “The current crisis of the Family (Ethical and Social aspects of values, the impact of modern bio- technology” I have outlined the historical focus of the international community on the vitally crucial subject of populations’ controls being adopted by the UN to usher in a regime of forecasting the number of peoples in any society and the economic progress likely to be achieved in that society by keeping such numbers under pre-set limitations.

This was done by treaty obligations in which the international community of states put emphasis on this goal with a view to accomplish the community’s economic viability. In other words, the UN actions are manifestly predicated on legal obligations for perceived or real economic betterment of a particular community that emanate from the consent of the majority of the countries of the world.

I say this with great respect that based on my own experiences at the UN both in my personal capacity as well as a diplomatic representative of Pakistan, an important nation in many debates connected with the Family discussions at the international level, the above submitted seems to be the correct position with respect to this particular point. In other words if the blame is to be put, if at all, on the states’ that demand such a policy rather than the international agency, such as the UN that is executing such international treaty mandates.

There are several established international institutions, such as the WHO. UNICEF, UNFPA and principally the World Bank that work in harmony under various international treaties and agreements to generate the mechanics of POLICY of economic development.

This is being done without regard to the wishes of h relevant people or the advocacy of the pro-family advocates. These gigantic international agencies have concentrated their huge resources in the countries with the highest maternal mortality rates to strengthen their health services and to provide a full range of maternal health services. Such health services extend from family planning to emergency gynecological help. Compared to this, the pro-family adherents have practically nothing to offer to people, especially women in distress, any tangible help.

Accordingly we have to find a resolution of this glaring one sided contest, if you will. It is not possible with next to no resources for such penniless institutions to compete with well-funded and financed work of these international institutions. The UN work presently on such lines is well within the general guidelines provided for and contained in STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK 2008-2011: Accelerating Progress and National Ownership of the ICPD Program of Action. This Framework is currently review until its extension to 2013 as part of the planning cycles in line and intended to provide direction to all levels of work including research by UNFPA

Accordingly, I for one do not regard the UN to be described as the villain of this piece since the international bureaucratic edifice that seemingly is so acting has little choice in the matter. The “policy” to accomplish such goals is pre-set by the community of states and as such the real blame, if you will, has to be placed on such countries and states that are instrumental in achieving such results in vast multi-treaty conventions wherein such goals are pre-set.

Having been myself a part of the process that creates such treaties or conventions, it is simply irrefutable that the diplomatic representatives at such meetings are going through the modalities of just acting under instructions from the foreign offices of their respective states.

As such the matter needs a “dispassionate” examination to identify where the lobbying efforts have to be redirected by traditionalists in order to reverse the trends that are now being analyzed. I use the word dispassionately advisedly since without question we are gathered here as a collection of highly involved scholars in the field as pro-family adherents of this perspective matter. As such what I am about to articulate is simply from the point of view of a scientist to portray accurately the correct state of affairs so that we my work towards facing the real threats that have put the future of traditional family in some difficulty.

A word about the organizers is most relevant. This debate of this year’s Forum is organized by those who strongly value the importance of the family and appreciate the efforts of all responsible citizens and public officers who encourage and undertake measures designed to maintain and strengthen the Family.

Let me therefore put the position in law of this matter before this learned audience. I personally believe in the well-known phrase that has been repeated times and times over by various supporters of the family that it is the cradle, not only of human rights, but also of society and civilization itself. I need not emphasize that we need constantly to remind the various states of their obligations to safeguard the institution of the family as called for Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in sub-clause [3] thereof proclaims [1]:

  • “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society” and is entitled to protection by society and the State:
  • The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized" as such “motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.
  • That parents have “a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

I may go as far as to respectfully submit to the learned audience that there exists mounting evidence that the survival of society depends upon the positive outcomes derived from the natural union of a man and a woman. I must remind the member nations of the UN who are accordingly under treaty obligations, which are largely being ignored, to protect the family and then proclaim that as members of an increasingly global society, we must work together to restore the family to its proper strength and function.

I have indeed seen research data that strongly suggests that there is a false myth that family and marriage are outdated institutions. There exists strong evidence to this effect that data collected from different societies from about 40 countries across the globe supports the pro-family traditionalists international view point that family remains the primary societal institution and that children need both a mother and a father for optimal development. The best evidence for this perspective comes from the current UN Secretary General’s recent Report on the Family, which states that “the stability and cohesiveness of communities and societies largely rest on the strength of the family. In effect, the very achievement of development goals depends on how well families are empowered to contribute to the achievement of those goals.”

A preliminary question arises as to why we would like to have a predilection towards the traditional pro-family perspectives being canvassed here when we are really talking of economy and not philosophy of traditional thinking on marriage? The answer lies in the simple fact that it is the institution of the family which leads to real happiness in the society. To have Civilizational happiness we need spiritual and religious emphasis of the relevant community as much as economic uplift of the people.

The significance of life and happiness itself, which is regarded as the universal sine qua non of anything meaningful or even desirable in Platonic terms of our worldly existence, is manifestly regarded as the pivot around which all that is beneficial to the human race revolves. Religion or faith based evaluations of this phenomenon are most educative to us today. Faith as such is the harbinger of many good tidings for Mankind; yet it is trite knowledge that it is purportedly considered by some as the basis used by even well-meaning people to advocate criticism, even ridicule of other faiths. In the world in which we find ourselves in 2012 there as such much acrimony and mistrust by followers of races and of adherents of diverse faiths against those who are just “different”. I am privileged to be the author and presenter of the new contemporary right which was presented to the World in the Mexico Conference of 1980 which accepted my submissions. [2]

The value and importance of Family is designed to be projected which, in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 16 [3] constitutes the core & fundamental unit of our modern society (emphasis supplied). International conceptions relating to Family, in simpliciter, are really emphasizing the pivotal duty of states to maintain the essential traditional & moral characteristics of this fundamental societal unit.

The leading text of this nature on what constitutes the family is thus to be found in Article 16 [3] thereof that asserts in categorical terms:

The Family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by the society and the State.

The challenge to this simple conception however has arisen of what constitutes a natural family and can be summarized in the form of the following three propositions:

  1. From the work and efforts of anti- traditional Family partisans, strictii sensu.
  2. From the compendium of legal and constitutional developments in countries such as the US or in Europe.
  3. From International developments at the forums designed for manifestly political purposes or in the domain of human rights at the UN or in Europe.

The philosophical and legal message contained in article 16 [3] of the Universal Declaration was derived essentially from the teachings of great faiths and of the basic attitudes of the monotheistic religions towards this fundamental unit of any society.

But despite this manifest postulate which emanates from the highest international law making sources, a UN Declaration, Family as an institution has been threatened as my friend Allan Carlson observes with acute perception when he says:

“Our foes have mounted attacks on all aspects of the natural Family, from the bond of marriage to the birth of the children to true democracy of free homes.”

This campaign was advocated about family internationally with great amount of support, with the result that by 1990s it had global adherents. The UN declared 1994 as the year of the family but cynically, the opponents too embarked upon their own advocacy of views divergent to those espoused by the supporters of the traditional family. Internationally the resultant situation created problems had serious social and some constitutional ramifications in the Western world.

This process led to vigorous efforts by many leaders of the traditional family to thwart this danger from anti- traditional family protagonists. Since ultimately in dealing with what figures on the UN agenda in all such issues, number of states does matter that are demanding something to be debated or resolved, entirely because of the 60 plus Islamic states voting powers the UN agreed to observe 2004 as the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family.

This anniversary observance was announced by the UN General Assembly decision number 164/75 given on 18th December, 2002. The year of 2004 produced a tremendous amount of scholarship and erudite work by pro-family intellectuals, non-governmental bodies and religiously based institutions. Prominent international conferences of 2004 that can be cited for this pro family momentum are the Mexico World Congress of Families III, the Kuala Lumpur Family International Conference and the Doha International Conference.

The greatest threats to the institution of the family come from contemporary “liberal” philosophies of the predominantly advanced Western civilizations (and not from the developing nations). The problem that we are thus faced with is simple. Some of the “changes” that are currently advocated by a sizeable segment of liberal-based ideologues are such that they aim to denude the very foundations and grund-norms of the institution of the family so as to adversely affect its well-being and character as traditionally understood.

These challenges emanate from principally three sources viz:

  1. The liberal policies of western states in respect to such issues as allowance of same sex unions or other state operated benefits to non-traditional family units.
  2. The consistent legal and constitutional developments by the institutions that possess the necessary ingredient of the ability to lay down normative rules of an international character. By this process, the member states of the relevant transnational agencies are then obligated to observe such rules. Amongst such normative expected behavior is the duty imposed upon such members to control the birthrate in their populations.
  3. The striking failures of traditional pro-family protagonists to lay appropriate emphasis where it is required; conversely, when opportunities came to achieve the threshold criteria of success, either through lack of specialized skill or knowledge or by propagating the wrong cause before the available forums, the chances were lost to realize the goals.

Let us see more deeply into finding out raison d’etre of the gist of these tripartite reasons that have cumulatively contributed to these difficult state affairs in which we, as he pro-family protagonists find ourselves. Let me also state here that since the thrust of today’s discussions deal with the second of three causes mentioned above, I shall concentrate on this particular causation in the ensuing analysis.

My many addresses and written articles stress the difficulties faced in Western nations by the “Family”; I have on several occasions, as a delegate to the Third Committee of the General Assembly, or as a Member of the former UN Human Rights Commission or the Sub-Commission of HR Experts of Protection of Human Rights in Geneva commented about such facets of contemporary thinking about the family & human rights to stress the perceivable trends at the United Nations while codifying newer evolutionary norms of this law.

Some of these issues are significant for the advanced nations of this world. I may further note that as pointed out in my other main plenary address in this conference, Russia is genuinely one such country to have been adversely affected by this population decline, if you will. With a birth rate of about 1.2 and a decline of 6 million people over the past 20 years, Russia seems to be in considerable sociological and indeed political difficulty.

Population “policy” needs at the country level depends upon its cultural and historical background. However scientifically speaking, in economic planning of countries long term interests and priorities, such needs vary in the short-term with a continuing imperative to focus attention on high-fertility, high-mortality countries and populations through an emphasis on family planning and maternal health.

In the medium-term, the global imperative may shift such priorities towards a greater country need for guidance from the international agencies such as the UN, on managing demographic transitions, including in-house expertise as well as support for local capacity-building in demography and statistics.

UN’s goals and priorities

Let me articulate very briefly the major excising international agreements and decisions which are of binding legal nature and which mandate clearly the current policies of the UN in this context. In comprehending the more traditional family conceptions lost in such international legal texts of highest authority formulations, it realistically seems to be futile now to protest against such implementation which is required to be undertaken by the countries of the world pursuant to such mandates.

The most important milestone for UN is the 2014 target date of the Program of Action that was produced at the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. It is not yet clear what will follow although different models exist at the UN, including agreement on a modified agenda or a continuation, such as the Alma Ata Declaration of “Health for All.” The second development milestone is the termination of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. Multiple processes are now underway to define the next incarnation of the MDGs. The third milestone is the 15-year anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action (1995–2015) which was set at the Fourth World Conference on Women. The decisions made in Beijing do not expire, but there could be an anniversary review that could address UN future responsibilities related to gender.

The creation in 2009 of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) will by necessity force a review of UNFPA’s role and overlap with the new agency. A swift and clear division of duties and arrangements for on-going collaboration is crucial to the success of both agencies.

With its clear responsibility for pursuing the Cairo agenda, UN agencies such as UNFPA must both steer and reflect the will of the population community to achieve those objectives if it is to build and maintain its leadership place The international population community is a diverse community that includes some powerful opposing voices, but also strong networks of common interests, both organizationally and substantively.

Importantly there exist institutions for this UN thesis: but there also exist a contrary perspective that speaks not merely against this thesis based on essentially economic development, but on history and culture of mankind. It includes public and private sector health and service providers, donors and funds givers, academics and research NGOs, advocacy and activist organizations.

It also divides by function, ranging from demographers and population scientists to community workers that deliver services; and by topics, including health, development, legal, ethical, and social issues. There are, of course to be kept in mind, multiple definitions of both reproductive health and population and development. These combined efforts have contributed to a well-argued agenda internationally against such UN activities in favor of population control.

The UN work in respect of family, as already submitted, remains within the general guidelines provided for and now contained in the Strategic Framework 2008-2011: Accelerating Progress and National Ownership of the ICPD Program of Action. The framework is currently under review to inform its extension to 2013 as part of a broad effort to bring UN agencies’ planning cycles in line and is intended to provide direction for all levels of work including research by UNFPA. It is not without interest to emphasize here that most of this international Consensus has come from the domain of rights of women, in international planning conferences dealing with women’s rights. This seems ironic since women have been the principal beneficiary of these normative guidelines; yet in passing, the cause of the family seems to have been impacted upon.

So what words of advice do I have to offer to the adherents of the pro-family philosophy? Two matters that I have seen personally at the international level deserve to be mentioned.

(A) Let the job be done by professionals

There seems to be tendency amongst many of the current pro-Family NGOs that they invariably undertake all the conference work by themselves; this signifies that many of them remain highly motivated and well-meaning heads of the NGOs who are active in this field to accomplish all and everything by themselves.

This is a noble endeavor and fine generally. However, when the field in which deliberations are required, presupposes technical expertise, say international law, UN items of interest on economic and financial matters or the situation with respect to multi ethnic civilization clashes, it is best to have them represented by the best possible professional representative they can locate.

For instance I wish to place on record the efforts of leading NGOs in the general field of Christian Charity work such as CARE of London or Focus on the Family of US who have commendably done so. In 2004 when the UN HR Commission was being advocated the sexual orientation resolution, two of these organizations just did not come there to make speeches, they had hired professional lawyers, in which I was fortunate to be designated the lead lawyer and spokesman, for this purpose.

I thus think that CARE leadership as presently embodied by my distinguished and most learned and gracious friend Lyndon Bowering or my friends of Focus on the Family deserve our gratitude and thanks.

(B) Avoidance of hyperbolic claims of attainment

We must guard against over sell of our public postures by not indulging in hyperbolic claims or evaluations of what we are in the process of achieving. Since sincere following utterly believes in the cause they profess, non-fulfillment of tall expectations is counter- productive. For instance NGO send out through the mechanism of the internet a lot of material generally proclaiming that they have done this or that; however such claims are usually supercilious and do not really achieve anything worthwhile.

The world is experiencing a terrible time generally in harnessing the much needed rapport between the principal and secondary norms of international policy made in far off places but being clearly implemented in regions of economically disprivileged people. I have little doubt that despite the best intentions of the mature leadership of statesman and intellectuals throughout the world, a policy animosity viz-a-viz the population increase desired in some places, such as Russia is regrettably patent.

Nevertheless fortunately there also exits an unbridled desire to coalesce our combined efforts in a direction that bridges rather than extenuates the historical differences and the prejudices of the international community. In this process there is manifestly visible in the field of the sanctity of Family the dire need to maintain the core and fundamental significance of the Family among the followers of different Faiths.

We are indeed fortunate in possessing as a living tribute to the clear determination to create an intellectual atmosphere of understanding and propagating the fundamental human values in following the historical acceptance of the family as a basic tenet of civilizations in major human rights texts that emanated with the creation of the UN Charter, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

It is worth mentioning at the end of today’s presentation that UN still calls for population control as many regions of the world are experiencing global birthrates decline. At a time when we are experiencing a regional decline in birthrates, and many countries find themselves in a demographic crisis that will result in their nations in economic and social difficulties if something doesn’t change, the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) continues to call for more population control.

Last year the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a projection that the world population will reach 7 billion on October 31 of this year. The UNFPA used this as an opportunity to call for more family planning services in order to decrease fertility rates worldwide.

There is case to be made that population control is a false alarm. Why? Because birthrates are already dropping in several regions of the world. Many countries have fertility rates that are well below replacement rate. It is stated by demographers that In order to maintain a steady population that does not increase and does not decrease, a country must have a fertility rate of 2.1.

This is the replacement rate. If each woman has an average of 2.1 children, she will replace herself and a man, and allow for the occasion in which some children will not make it to maturity in order to replace themselves.

A fertility rate below 2.1 children per woman means that a country’s population wil decrease since it will not replace itself. It is said generally that Russia is a perfect example of this. Presently Russia’s is losing its population. From 1985 to 1990, Russia had a fertility rate that just met replacement, 2.12 children per woman. Russia’s fertility rate dropped sharply from 2005 to 2010, to 1.44 children per woman. [3]

Similarly, Russia’s total population has decreased from 148,244,000 people in 1990, to 142,958,000 in 2010. [4]

That is a decrease of 5,268,000 people in 20 years. A significant factor is Russia’s declining birthrate is abortion.

An unofficial estimate signifies that there are 4 million abortions a year in Russia as compared to only 1.7 million live births. [5]

Russia, recognized its demographic crisis by hosting the Moscow Demographic Summit on June 2011. Russia, unlike China, is also providing monetary incentives to families that have more than one child. Russia is not the only country with a fertility rate that is below replacement.

Most of Western Europe is suffering from this demographic crisis. Italy, Spain, Germany, and Portugal and others had fertility rates close to 1.4 children per woman from 2005 to 2010. [6] Furthermore, worldwide fertility rates have dropped by nearly 50% since 1950.

The world population is however continuing to rise. Why? Because there were high birthrates in the 1950’s and 1960’s and people are living longer than ever before because of advances in medical technology and food production. Countries with lower birthrates, that is, below replacement rate face the challenge of decreased workforce, decreased consumption, and decreased ability to defend their borders.

The impact of years of “population control” propaganda and abortion, on the world’s fertility has been devastating. Instead of continuing down that path, the United Nations should take a leaf out of Russia’s book and try to think of ways to strengthen the family and increase fertility worldwide. [7]

End Notes

*. 1994 and in 1995 for his work in international human rights and education, the grant of highly prestigious King Faisal Memorial Award for 2002 by Saudi Arabia and in 2003 he received the International Professor of the Year of Human Rights Award in Riyadh, the 2006 London International Islamic Award for his work in Women’s needed legal reforms in Muslim countries; In 2003 he was made the David M. Kennedy Visiting Scholar & Professor of International Studies, Kennedy Center & in 1989 he became Visiting fellow & professor of International Affairs at, Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, and in 1990 was made a professor and visiting Fellow of Human Rights Program of Harvard Law School. The author has been Advisor to four Pakistani Prime Ministers on Foreign Affairs & Law, Member & Delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission, and the UN Sub Commission on Human Rights, Geneva. He has also represented Pakistan delegations to the UN GA and was the leader of Pakistan Delegation to the International Criminal Court (ICC); He is currently the UN Special Ambassador for Family, the President of the American Institute of South Asian Strategic Studies, Boston; In 2004 he became the first scholar from Pakistan to be given a distinguished Visiting Professorship in India at the JNU in Delhi, & to give Memorial Lecture at Benaras Hindu University, Universities of Mumbai, Goa and at Ambedkar Center at Aurangabad University. As an expert in strategic studies, he has been invited by numerous think tanks: in India, by e.g. SAPRA Foundation, Institute of Strategic and Policy Studies, Bombay, Nehru Foundation, Y.B. Chuvan and the Gandhi Foundations; in US he has been invited, for instance by the Carnegie & Brookings Institutions, in London, by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and in France by International Human Rights, Strasbourg. He is member of the International Planning and Selection Committees of the World Congress of Families. He has been a plenary speaker in each of the last five World Congresses of Families as well as in most leading international conferences on Family, environment and international strategic affairs.

1 .See generally Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16-3. See also International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Art. 10-1; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Art. 23-1 see further: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 25-2.; Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 26 [3].

2. See The Right to be Different, Farooq Hassan, UNESCO Doc. SS-80/CONF.806/9, 1980) “exploratory proposal for the creation of a new human right.” (In English, French & Spanish); Final UNESCO REPORT, SS-80/CONF.806/COL. 7 at 22.examined and upheld the availability of this new human third generation human right actually called, the “right to be different.”. see further: The Right to be Different: An Exploratory Proposal for the Creation of a New Human Right, by Dr. Farooq Hassan, Loyola International & Comparative Law Review Volume 67- 100 reference 5:67 1985; See further Solidarity Rights: Progressive Evolution of Human Rights Law? By Dr Farooq Hassan, Human Rights Annual, New York Law School, 1983, Volume 1, p 51 See also Religious liberty in Pakistan: Law, reality, and perception by Dr. Farooq Hassan, Brigham Young University Law Review, Spring Issue 2002; and see also: Threats To Family & Marriage: International Perspectives, Dr. Farooq Hassan Nov. 21-22, 2003, /Mesa, Arizona, Link: (www.unitedfamilies.org/hassan_article)

3. Press Release, United Nations Population Fund, World Population to Reach 7 Billion on 31 October (May 3, 2011), Link: http://www.unfpa.org/public/cache/offonce/home/news/pid/7597

4. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision: Total fertility by major area, region and country, 1950-2100 (children per woman), Link: http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/fertility.htm

5. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision: Total population (both sexes combined) by major area, region and country, annually for 1950-2100 (thousands), Link: http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/population.htm

6. See supra note 4.

7. See generally Dr. Farooq Hassan: UN Role in International Population Policy, Reproductive and Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights: Evaluation of Declining Birthrates (Synopsis of the plenary address presented in the World Congress of Families, Moscow Summit on Demographic Declines, 2011
Link: http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/archives/1305

Дата публикации: 2014-10-08 06:16:32