Protecting the Family at the International Level: Reclaiming the True Meaning of International Law

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’re publishing the complete English translation of the speech by Managing Director Pavel Parfentiev at the III All-Ukrainian Parents’ Forum in Kiev.

Pavel Parfentiev

Protecting the Family at the International Level
Reclaiming the True Meaning of International Law

A 3rd All-Ukrainian Parents’ Forum Address

The family based on a marital union of a man and a woman aimed at the begetting and raising of children, is the foundation of the human society, of every culture, and all the civilizations. This simple truth is universal. That is, it is universally acknowledged wherever there is still humanity left, for to deny it is to deny the very human nature and to threaten the very existence of humankind.

Life and family are the two primal elements of any people, any nation. Whereas in a society one cannot have social justice without abolishing slavery, establishing the rule of law and the presumption of innocence, without life and family there can be no society in the first place. A nation that ceases to acknowledge the sanctity of human life is undermining itself; a nation that threatens the family is rapidly approaching self-destruction.

No sensible people would destroy itself. However, nowadays whole nations are virtually pushed to self-destruction. Paradoxically, this is being done in the name of so-called “human rights”. We are told to believe that human rights require killing unborn children, tolerating propaganda of homosexualism and other immoral and deviant forms of sexual behaviour, recognizing cohabitating homosexuals as “families”, allowing them to adopt and raise children. We are told that the rights of the child are being violated by their own parents wanting to give them moral and religious education or trying to maintain a sensible discipline, and, at the same time, that probably the biggest threat to our society is the so-called “domestic violence”, tackling which demands intense constant supervision of the parents by the state.

These are all lies. There is no mention of the so-called “right to abortion” in any international human rights treaty. The alleged right to promote immorality, undermine the natural idea of the family and supplant it with artificial homosexual constructs follows from no human rights instrument. No international agreement bans loving parents from raising their children the way they want, in accordance with their faith and convictions. Unfortunately, today’s human rights discourse is saturated with lies that many take for undisputed truths, daily passed for “international human rights standards” and imposed upon nations and peoples of the world as something they must comply with, whatever they think of it.

As a Belgian lawyer Jakob Cornides, J.D., rightly points out, “What was once considered a crime is to be transformed into a right, and what was once considered justice into a human rights violation”[1].

How did it happen, and how can we oppose it? How did something that another Belgian expert Marguerite Peeters, making it a title of her study of global control mechanisms, neatly named “Hijacking Democracy: The Power Shift to the Unelected” come about?

According to its 1945 Charter, the United Nations was established “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights aimed at protecting the inalienable rights of all people to preclude the repeating of the horrors of Nazism.

Today many are beginning to forget what some of these horrors were. For example, ten of the Nazi leaders were denounced by the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal because under them “abortions were encouraged and even forced”, and it was called “a crime against humanity” [2].

The Nazi state was taking children away from their parents and appropriating the right to educate them. Parents who did not wish their children to join the Hitlerjugend were being persecuted and charged with “abuse of parental rights”. It is to preclude the repeating of these very horrors that Article 26 of UDHR declared that parents have “a prior right to choose the kind of education . . . given to their children”. Later Article 18(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights expanded this right to cover “the liberty of parents . . . to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions”.

Even the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with its many controversial provisions, recognizes the right of the child not be separated from his or her parents against their will, save for exceptional circumstances (Article 9), and the right to appropriate direction and guidance by parents in the exercise of his or her rights (Article 5).

All these fundamental rights are currently being violated in numerous developed countries, including Europe. These grave violations of genuine human rights that can justifiably be classified as criminal are formally perpetrated in the name of protecting human rights and the rights of the child, while actually contravening the most fundamental, universal, and generally acknowledged norms of international law.

Using human rights rhetoric as a cover, abortions are being propagandized to limit birth rates throughout the world. Coupled with immorality falsely promoted as freedom, this encourages entire peoples to demographic suicide. It is common knowledge that increasing, or at least maintaining, population figures is vital to successful economic and social development of every nation. Merely maintaining its population size requires aggregate birth rates to stay above 2.1 child per woman. In Ukraine it is currently below 1.5. The only way out for a nation thus threatened is to revive the traditional large family, the family way of life, traditional family and moral values.

UHDR and ICCPR are both explicit in declaring that the family is the “natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”. They are equally clear in that “men and women of full age” have the right to marry and to found a family. Only this, the natural kind of family based on a marital union of a man and a woman and aimed at the begetting and raising of children, is recognized by norms of international law.

The same instruments indicate that individual rights are linked to obligations and responsibilities towards the society, and most of them can be limited by law when necessary for protecting the public order, health, morals, and the rights of others. Public order is recognized in international law as norms and values without which a democratic society cannot remain secure and stable.

The natural family is a universal value recognized by international law, and the basis of every society. It is impossible for any society, democratic ones included, to exist without it. That is why undermining the family, any attempt at discrediting it, limiting the natural rights of the parents, equalizing it with other forms of cohabitation, including homosexual ones, propaganda aimed against the family and basic family values are all actions undermining the very fundamentals of public order.

They are essentially similar to acts expressly prohibited by international law, like propaganda of war, or advocating racial or religious hatred. Limiting or prohibiting those does not constitute violation of human rights. On the contrary, protecting the family is an action necessary to protect genuine human rights universally recognized by all of mankind. This is the direct corollary of true fundamentals of international law genuinely recognized by the peoples of the world.

Unfortunately, the fundamentals of international law are being aggressively attacked through unlawful actions of a rout of activists and the organizations, both local and international, they managed to hijack. Regularly targeted by this destructive kind of activism are reputable international institutions, UN treaty monitoring bodies in particular, like the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Human Rights Committee, and some Council of Europe bodies, including the European Court of Human Rights itself.

This in fact amounts to a concerted effort by a relatively small group of people to radically change the society on a global scale – all in pursuit of their narrow interests. This is deliberate social engineering, which, though retaining an outwardly peaceful and civilized appearance, is highly aggressive in its manifestations. Pretending to be “asserting democratic values”, it has nothing democratic about it as it seeks to bypass the will of sovereign peoples and their elected governments. Employing freedom-loving rhetoric, it is incompatible with freedom as it consistently silences all dissent. Its logical end result would be a new dictatorship denying all that the humankind held to be its main values – true dignity, family, faith, and morals.

Nowadays NGOs advocating anti-family ideas are active in many of the most important international bodies, consistently and expertly influencing their decisions. They are zealously lobbying for their representatives to be included in official government delegations, put into high-ranking positions inside these organizations, while those who support life, family, and morals are facing tremendous pressure barring them from participating in international processes.

Advocating radical social ideas that would establish an unnatural new social order, these well-organized groups are actively engaging with intergovernmental bodies such as the UN, the Council of Europe, and the European Union, influencing international talks, various instruments and decisions, while at the same time using the international funding they manage to secure to support, usually through direct financing, their ideological allies at the local level. Acting against the true interests of their peoples, these local organizations are lobbying hard their respective governments, pushing them to comply with illegal anti-family recommendations they claim to be “international standards”.

Lastly, the success of this global operation is secured through serious financial and political leverage, in particular, blackmail involving humanitarian and financial aid. Thus, bypassing national sovereignty and without any real legal foundation, radical social ideas are becoming the new international legislation.

Here are but a couple of examples illustrating this reality.

UN treaty monitoring bodies are meant to be independent expert groups. Albeit nominated and appointed by states parties, once elected, they are totally independent and unaccountable. International anti-family pressure groups, like those advocating radical feminism or special rights for homosexuals, are exerting considerable efforts for these appointments to specifically include their own supporters. Thus staffed, is it any wonder that the activities of these treaty bodies often prove to be quite destructive?

In particular, although not authorized by their respective treaties to pass binding interpretations of their text, these Committees are regularly doing just so in their so-called “General comments”. These comments are often used to effectively rewrite norms of international law, giving them a wholly different meaning not intended by the parties by whom they were ratified.

For example, the CEDAW Committee have on more than one occasion demanded from sovereign states to rewrite their constitutions. It demanded that they abolish holidays such as “Mother’s Day” or “Father’s Day”. Dozens of times it demanded that their national legislation should be rewritten to provide a right to “swift and easy” abortions. It even argued for legalizing prostitution and the right of underage girl to access contraceptives and other “reproductive health” services without their parents’ consent. In vain may you browse the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women looking for any mention of these rights. There are none. These fictitious “rights” and the states parties’ “obligations” allegedly following from them are all unauthorized illegal constructs produced by the Committee itself in its interpretations.

Both CEDAW and CRC, another UN treaty monitoring body, in their recommendations have repeatedly insisted that all children, boys and girls alike, must have access to comprehensive sexual education. The latter was especially insistent that such access must be granted regardless of their parents’ consent.

One must have a clear understanding what this “sexual education” advocated by UN-affiliated organizations is. In vain may you search their documents for information on family values and dangers of promiscuity, encouragement of premarital continence, and other sensible advice. Their content is quite opposite. WHO, for example, have issued a Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe. A framework for policy makers, educational and health authorities. It calls for sexual education for children from new-born and onwards. Document demands that children aged 0 to 4 (!) be shown the “enjoyment and pleasure when touching one’s own body, early childhood masturbation” (p. 38). It then demands that children aged 9 to 12 be given information on their “sexual rights, as defined by . . . WAS” (World Association for Sexual Health) (p. 45). One of these “sexual rights” is defined by WAS as “[t]he right to sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure, including autoeroticism, is a source of physical, psychological, intellectual and spiritual well being”. There is, incidentally, no mention in international human rights treaties of any “sexual rights” whatsoever – there simply is none among the legally binding international norms.

Here is another striking example of UN treaty monitoring bodies illegally redefining norms of international law. In 2006, relying on minor, questionable, and sometimes outright false arguments, the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its General comment no. 8 have ruled that from that moment on all states must prohibit corporal punishment of children, even by their own parents. A slap on a naughty child’s bottom must be regarded as intolerable abuse of children and be prosecuted accordingly. This surprising inference did not, however, follow from the text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee itself noted in its commentary that such a ban was not even considered when the Convention was drafted. Moreover, ratifying it, the Republic of Singapore had expressly declared that it considered the Convention as not prohibiting judicious application of corporal punishment in the best interests of the child, something that no-one objected to – and something the Committee had, incidentally, failed to mention. In addition to that, USSR’s proposal to completely ban corporal punishment of children in schools was rejected by the majority of states parties.

In its 2011 General comment no. 13 the Committee went even further, demanding that state parties that had not yet done so must immediately ratify a whole number of international treaties and review and withdraw declarations and reservations contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention. It demanded that any kind of extremely widely interpretable “violence” against children, including not only spanking, but also “scaring or ridiculing” the child, must be prosecuted. Lastly, it demanded that the state parties must by all means allocate necessary funding for the implementation of its decisions, and also establish special national child protection agencies.

Such recommendations constitute clear and blatant intrusion into national sovereignty of each and every state. One can only wonder why these states are not resisting this intrusion, and often cave in to this illegal pressure by UN committees. In particular, in 2007 many nations have obediently followed this illegal recommendation and criminalized any corporal punishment by parents, including spanking. This was done in spite of there being virtually no legal ground for such a move in international norms.

Instead of it, the Committee’s experts are, in fact, relying on dubious arbitrary constructs created and propagated by social engineering radical “experts”. Using this procedural back door, and without any oversight by the sovereign peoples, international law is step by step being amended with new concepts – such as radical theories of gender construction.

For example, in 2006 a group of experts advocating so-called “sexual minority rights” adopted a document called The Yogyakarta Principles. By misinterpreting the relevant international legal norms, its authors attempted to create new rights with no real foundation for them. In particular, this document claims that “gender identity” amounts to “each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth”. In spite of explicit objections from a whole number of states, first, UN officials began citing these Principles, and then documents of similar nature began to be quoted in official Council of Europe documents.

Despite being extremely questionable scientifically, theories of sex-independent “gender identity” are increasingly informing the definitions being used first in “soft” international recommendations, and then, having become viewed as a given, in legally binding norms. For example, Article 3 of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence that Ukraine signed on November 7, 2011, but not yet ratified, explicitly defines gender as “socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes”, while Article 14 of the same document demands that children should be taught “non-stereotyped gender roles”. This has already caused the Catholic Polish Episcopal Conference to protest against this document, declaring that it is “based on utterly unacceptable and false ideological premises”.

All this is not merely destructive; it is a matter of manifestly unlawful activities using false references to international law to undermine the sovereignty of independent nations and the welfare of peoples, families, and individuals. We are currently at the critical turning point: either the peoples of the world manage to change this situation, pushing the highest echelons of international politics back towards working for their good, protecting the family, providing genuine necessary protection for the childhood, or radical activists continue using international bodies to irrevocably undermine families, peoples, and societies. The latter would mean that, increasingly losing all legitimacy, these international bodies will inevitably become the aggressor in a sort of new global war – the war against family and mankind. The impact of today’s international family policy on the life of every nation is too great to be ignored. The civil societies of the world must make a conscientious decision which international force to support – the one advocating a healthy family-based society, or the one pursuing its unmaking.

What chance do we have of turning the situation around, of protecting our peoples, our families, and our children? There is one, and it is one we ought to use. Here is what we must do to succeed:

1. It would be a mistake to believe that the anti-family trends outlined above have really become some sort of international standard or an unshakable norm. In reality, international politics is becoming a battle ground in the fight to protect the family. It is vital that all rational state and public forces ally on the international stage against those who seek to destroy the family, the traditional family and moral values, and the sanctity of human life. Anti-family organizations appropriating the right to speak for the civil society are currently enjoying comfortable representation in international organizations. This right must be denied. Pro-family civil society forces must step by step increase their presence on the international stage, just as the anti-family forces did – in a consistent, well thought-out, and competent manner, finding and using all the necessary resources available.

A special role in this effort is played by international initiatives such as the World Congress of Families – the largest international project of its kind uniting supporters of the natural family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, traditional family and moral values, people opposed to abortion, homosexualism, and other socially disruptive phenomena. Taking part in it are organizations, experts, social activists, and politicians from more than 80 countries around the world. WCF is not an organization in the usual sense, not a centralized body – rather, it is a massive network movement supported by millions of people across the globe. Its main task is holding large-scale international conferences dedicated to protecting the natural family, parental rights, and the right to life. So far it has organized six such World Congresses of Families. These international events usually witness more than 3000 delegates from all the five continents, including politicians, community leaders, writers, scholars, and lay individuals as well. The 7th World Congress of Families is to take place in 2013 in Sidney, Australia [3], and the one after that is set to take place in 2014 in Russia.

World Congress of Families is very effective at protecting the family, family values, parental rights, and the right to life at the international level. Much is being done by its partner organizations. This includes winning major domestic and international pro-family court cases, successfully removing anti-family provisions from draft international legislation – and seriously influencing national politics. In particular, then last September the majority of Australian parliamentarians refused to approve same-sex marriages, this was achieved thanks in part to WCF partners’ efforts.

2. Local organization representatives must make their views clearly heard on the international stage by issuing well though-out and well-prepared civil society documents setting forth such views in an educated and competent manner. Examples of such documents include the San Jose Articles convincingly arguing that there is no “right to abortion” in international law; the 2011 St. Petersburg Resolution, supported by hundreds of organizations across Russia and Ukraine expressing their unequivocal protest at the abuse of international mechanisms and setting forth the principles by which the norms of international law can be lawfully interpreted in the interests of the family and the society; and the report on unlawful actions by the UN CRC Committee prepared by our Group and available in English.

Growing incrementally, step by step, the body of such works can produce very tangible influence on international political processes. Thanks to these steps we have already successfully stopped some of the dangerous international anti-family initiatives.

3. Attempts at unlawfully exerting outside control on sovereign peoples amounts to ideological and cultural coercion, a kind of peaceful-looking invasion. Its aim is to gradually erode the sovereignty of independent nations, their peoples’ rights to self-determination, self-government by just laws, and domestic values and traditions. This calls for all supporters of the family, family and moral values, and the sanctity of human life to consistently stand up for their countries’ sovereignty. It is not a question of sovereignty narrowly defined as a formal international recognition of an independent state. It is the actual, not the formal right to shape one’s own destiny independently and without unlawful international pressure.

Against this backdrop, faced with the possibility of joining the European Union and therefore virtually abandoning much of its national sovereignty, the people of independent Ukraine have to ask themselves some very important questions. Do the sovereign people of Ukraine need a Union top-heavy with the new breed of apparatchiks complicit in advancing radical feminism and the so-called “sexual minority rights”? Do the sovereign people of Ukraine really want to come under the jurisdiction of the European Parliament with its self-declared intergroup on “LGBT rights” and its human rights resolutions invoking homosexual rights so often one might think homosexualism the new Europe’s most treasured value? And, in the light of all this, isn’t it, perhaps, the Ukraine that should be setting down terms on which it might be willing to join the European Union, and not the other way round? These, I think, are important questions that must be decided by the whole people of Ukraine, and not by members of narrow political elites.

All the three components of protecting the family on the international stage outlined above have essentially one goal: to reclaim the true meaning and purpose of international law. Because, just like any other law, its true purpose is maintaining and building up the society, not undermining and destroying it.

In this connection allow me to quote the international St. Petersburg Resolution:

“We declare and proclaim our strong conviction that all UN human rights treaties must be interpreted in a way favorable to the natural family and natural parental rights. They also must be interpreted as defending the natural right of unborn children to life from the moment of conception.

All interpretations contradicting this approach must be rejected, as contrary to natural human rights, even if given by an authoritative body. If any provision under any international treaty or other international human rights instrument cannot be interpreted in compliance with this principle, such a provision must be amended or such an instrument must be denounced in tote as inhuman.

If any international organization or agency insists on any principle or norm contrary to this approach, this policy should be openly identified by the governments as socially destructive. In such a case, the governments, acting for the good of their peoples and mankind, should either compel such an organization to recognize natural human rights, natural family rights and natural parental rights or to leave such an organization or agency”.

Concluding my address, I would like to firmly state the following: natural family, matrimony, motherhood and fatherhood, and natural parental rights are all of them not the creation of man. They follow from the human nature itself without which we can no longer remain human. The law can only acknowledge this incontestable fact and respectfully accept it; and neither the national legislators nor the people drafting international legal norms have a right to arbitrarily redefine human nature.

Thank you for your attention!

About the Author: Pavel A. Parfentiev is the Managing Director of the Advocacy Group and the Chairman of “For Family Rights” NGO (Russia). He’s also the World Congress of Families Ambassador to European Institutions and the WCF Adviser for International Human Rights Law.

[1] Jacob Cornides, J.D., Natural and Un-Natural Law, 2010, p. 2.

[2] Trials of War Criminals before the Nürnberg Military Tribunals, October, 1946 — April, 1949, V, 153, 160-61, 166. Also: IV, 610, 613.

[3] This speech was delivered a month before the World Congress of Families VII took place on 15-18 May 2013. The official web-site of the WCF VII:

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