A Response from Civil Society

Executive Summary
Opening Statements
Reviewing the Millennium Declaration
NGOs as Partners in Debt Relief and Financing for Development
NGOs as Partners in Values and Public Service
> NGOs as Partners in Strengthening the Family
Building Cultures of Peace and Leadership
Discussion Groups
Closing Statements

NGOs as Partners in Strengthening the Family
Dr. David Blankenhorn, President of the Institute for American Values, discussed why all states should recognize and protect the family. He said, "[G]overnments must recognize and respect the natural family in much the same way, and for exactly the same reason, that they must recognize and respect human rights, since the natural family.is a gift from nature and nature's God, thereby constituting a fundamental dimension of human flourishing." The family is cradle of civil society, its first and most important institution. He decried "no fault divorce" in the United States, which he termed unilateral divorce. For the state arbitrarily to declare that a marriage may be immediately and unilaterally broken by either spouse for any or no reason is, in essence, to abolish any legal recognition of marriage. He urged that a coordinated, international, multi-sector social movement be begun to strengthen and defend the institution of marriage.
Ms. Phyllis Bennett, faith-based liaison for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, noted that this year's World Summit on Social Development, sponsored by the United Nations, declared the family as the basic unit of society, playing a key role in social development, and pledged to promote a strengthened role for the family. She said we must recognize that the profound importance of the family transcends cultural and religious boundaries.
Mrs. Karen Judd-Smith, IIFWP Director of Development and Public Affairs, said the family is the vehicle to implement the very things that allow us to create a culture of peace on earth. "Every single person builds peace through day-to-day relationships within the family," she said. It is within the family that one first learns, through the example of parents, how to live for the sake of others. The issues of poverty and sustainable development can first be creatively solved within the family framework. Thus, the marriage relationship and family is the core from which we can transform our society, she said.
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