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December 2019
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UN International Day of Families 2009

Symposium at the UN Calls for Families to Make a Commitment to Peace

Download the PowerPoint report (9MB); high-res (25MB). View the program (PDF), Multi-language PDF
Click here for the audio recordings of the speeches and photos
French, 中文

 

New York, USA - More than 400 UN diplomats, Ambassadors, NGO representatives, and faith leaders gathered at the United Nations Headquarters May 18 to celebrate the UN International Day of Families sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Guinea, with additional cosponsorship from the Permanent Missions of Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Qatar, Sudan, and the Permanent Observer of the African Union, in collaboration with the Universal Peace Federation.

The keynote guest address was given by special guest speaker Dr. Deepak Chopra. “We are literally members not only of the same breath, but of the same body,” he said. “Every single one of us recycles our whole body with the rest of the universe every year. We are one with the world and with each other. The trees out there are your lungs. If they do not breathe, you do not breathe. The rivers are your circulation. There is no separation, only differentiation. We have confused the two.”

Dr. Deepak Chopra United Nations

Chopra quoted Albert Einstein’s statement that no problem will ever be solved in the level of consciousness that it was created. “Terms like the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, and the war on poverty, are metaphors of a violent mind, metaphors of a past that is over" he said. "We should no longer talk about survival of the fittest but survival of the wisest.”

Mr. Almamy Babara Toure from the Permanent Mission of Guinea“Are you really interested in having peace in the world?” Chopra asked. “If you are, can you make a commitment to peace right now, here at the UN? Start with your family, and then let’s extend it. The whole world is my family. That is the message I want to give you at the United Nations today.”

UN Day of Families Celebrated Around the World

The UN celebration was also the opportunity for the UPF to report the contributions of its chapters around the world to the UN International Day of Families. Celebrations were held in over 60 cities in 34 nations, and more reports are coming in.

The audience was welcomed by H.E. U. Joy Ogwo, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria and the Chairperson of the event. “We are glad to welcome you to the United Nations as global citizens,” she said. “The family is the fulcrum and the central point of society, and the UN tries to promote the incorporation of the family viewpoint into all sectors of society.”

H.E. Nassir A. Al-Nasser from the Permanent Mission of Qatar emphasized the support that Qatar has given to the family, including hosting an international conference on the family in 2004 which resulted in the adoption of the Doha Declaration on the Family. He expressed his appreciation of the work and the accomplishments of UPF and cordially invited UPF officials to visit and cooperate in this area with different institutions in his respective country.

H.E. U. Joy Ogwu, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria H.E. Nassir A. Al-Nasser from the Permanent Mission of Qatar

H.E. Dr. Abdelaziz Hegazy, the Former Prime Minister of Egypt and Chairman of the General Federation of NGOs and Foundations, submitted a prepared message read by Taj Hamad, the event convener and the UPF Director of the Office of UN and International Relations. Dr. Hegazy called for the establishment of a "code of conduct" for families that would emphasize the importance of families in creating peace.

For this reason we ask civic society organizations, such as the UPF and other NGOs, to call for the establishment of a code of ethics and standards of good conduct for every family to follow, no matter where they are. The code will form the basis for a social and sacred covenant that highlights the rights and duties for the family and the individual.

Mr. Eric Olson of Focal Point, UN Programme on the Family Division for Social Policy and Development, Division for Social Policy and Development, highlighted the UN work in this vital area of the family, and endorsed the event as a positive contribution to the 20th celebration of the UN International Day of Families.

Taj Hamad, UPF's Director of UN and International Relations Mr. Eric Olson of Focal Point, UN Programme on the Family Division for Social Policy and Development, Division for Social Policy and Development

Dr. Thomas Walsh, Secretary General of the UPF, closed the session with a reminder that the family is the place where we should learn the ways of peace. “Before any one of us enters a school, university, or seminary,” he said, “we all learn our first lessons of love and peace from our mothers and fathers. And despite our differences, every family and every faith wants the same thing.”

“The family is universal," Dr. Walsh said. "Regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion, we are all members of families. However, although all religions agree that marriage and family are the fundamental building blocks of any society, the reality is that all nations are in danger of losing these most valuable traditions and institutions. Divorce and family breakdown are at an all-time high. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, even among the youngest teenagers. Violence and crime among young people are on the rise, and many say they have little hope of securing dignified, meaningful jobs to support their future families.”

The social and economic cost of this breakdown of the family is staggering. The breakdown of the family contributes directly to poverty, disease, child mortality and is possibly the single most significant obstacle to the fulfillment of the UN Millennium Development Goals. If we are to realize “One Family Under God” we must invest, “one family at a time.”

H.E. Mrs. Lila Hanitra Ratsifandrihamanana, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN Women and the Family panel

The second session focused on “Women and the Family” and was chaired by H.E. Mrs. Lila Hanitra Ratsifandrihamanana, the Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN. Moving beyond a sense of general celebration, she reminded the audience that women and children around the world continue to bear the brunt of the burden of the breakdown of the family.

“This beautiful meeting chamber is a far cry from the daily reality faced by almost a half of the world’s mothers and children,” she said. “If this day is to be a real celebration, we had better use our time here to consider what can be done to bring permanent change.”

“Even though Africa has more than its fair share of these problems, I believe that Africa also carries the seeds for a solution within its rich family traditions,” she said. “Our model of the extended family of relations helping and supporting each other is among the strongest in the world. As the old African proverb says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’”

The Family Panel was also addressed by H.E. Mr. Hamid Al Bayati, the Permanent Representative of the Mission of Iraq. Ambassador Al Bayati also serves as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. Mrs. Lynn Walsh of the UPF's Women's Initiative and Mrs. Genie Kagawa, Deputy Director of the UPF's office of UN and International Affairs, also spoke.

H.E. Dr. Abdalmahmood A. Mohamad, Permanent Representative of the Mission of SudanThe third session focused on the interaction of family and faith and was chaired by H.E. Dr. Abdalmahmood A. Mohamad, Permanent Representative of the Mission of the Republic of the Sudan. Sudan is the current chair of the "Group of 77" at the United Nations, and Ambassador Mohamad spoke compellingly of the ongoing importance of religions and religious leaders working together to extend equal protection to families of all religious backgrounds.

Another speaker on the faith panel, Steven Cayre, the founder of the Steven J. Cayre Foundation, gave a moving account of his family's efforts to choose peace instead of resentment. Cayre's father, who is Jewish, had purchased the World Trade Center not long before the September 11 2001 attacks.

Afterwards, instead of joining the cries of those who wanted revenge on all things Islamic, Cayre brought Arab and Muslim visitors to the Ground Zero site to begin the process of healing.

Closing remarks were given by Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, Co-Chair of UPF. "It is important to note that for years, the UPF Founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, has stressed that we are in an age where the leadership of women is of paramount importance," he said. "Moreover, all religions and traditions share the same core values, especially about the family. We need to learn from all of them if we are to establish a world of peace. This is why the UPF has summarized its message as one simple phrase, 'One Family Under God.'"

Steven Cayre, the founder of the Steven J. Cayre Foundation The closing panel

Around the world, the Universal Peace Federation hosted United Nations International Day of Families celebrations in 60 cities and 27 nations. Programs included service projects, visitations to orphanages and senior citizens’ homes, art and music contests, and symposia and conferences on strengthening the family.

 

See national reports.
Statement by H.E. Dr. Abdelaziz Hegazy on the International Day of the Families.
Statement by Lila Hanitra Ratsifandrihamanana
Statement by Dr. Thomas Walsh
Remarks by Steven Cayre
Remarks by Deepak Chopra

Remarks by H.E. Hamid Al-Bayati

Recordings of presentations

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