first World Congress of Families convened under Allan Carlsons guidance in Prague,
The Czech Republic, in March, 1997. Seven hundred delegates from 145 pro-family
organizations in 45 nations gathered to affirm a fixed definition of the family, to
counter recent aggressive, anti-family acts by the United Nations, and to chart a positive
path for family policy and family preservation. Speakers from a variety of disciplines
(social science, law, history, psychology, economics, education, anthropology, and
theology) defended the natural family, explored common sources of family decay, and
identified real solutions. These speeches are being prepared for publication and broad
distribution. Daily reports on the World Congress appeared in the Czech and European
press, and on 4,500 American radio stations.
The World Congress of Families II, held November 14-17, 1999 in Geneva,
Switzerland, can be judged a great success. A fireworks display set to
special music over Lake Geneva on Wednesday evening, 17 November, opened
the final Plenary session of the WCF II.
One thousand, six hundred delegates and participants, representing 275
pro-family organizations from 65 countries, took part in the Congress.
This represented a doubling in participation, relative to the first
Congress, held in Prague, The Czech Republic, in 1997.
Highlights of the Congress included the opening Plenary held in the
General Assembly of the Palace of the United Nations and adoption of
"The Geneva Declaration" on the last day of the meeting.
The Howard Center for Family, Religion, & Society served as one of
two Convening Organizations for this event, joined by NGO Family Voice of
Brigham Young University.
The Opening Plenary convened in the General Assembly Hall of the Palace
of the United Nations, on November 15,1999. In his welcoming remarks,
Allan Carlson noted that 51 years earlier, delegates to the new United
Nations, meeting in this very Hall, had approved the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights (1948). It's strongly pro-family language included Article
16, declaring "The Family is the natural and fundamental
group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the
State." He explored the meaning of the key word, natural,
described contemporary challenges to the family, and called for new action
toward family reconstruction.
The WCF II also presented two awards at his time. The Familias
Award for Scholarship went to French historian and
demographer, Pierre Chaunu, for his work in detailing the
"depopulation" problem looming over the developed world. The Familias
Award for Humanitarian Service went to Margaret Ogala, MD, Medical
Director of the Cottolengo Hospice for HIV-positive children in Kenya.
In her Response, Dr. Ogala spoke passionately for the need to return to
a time when the power to create life was treated as a sacred obligation.
She blamed the rise of promiscuity in Africa on the new belief among
people that they can "get away with infidelity and premarital
sex" on "value free education based entirely on how pregnancy
and disease could be avoided," on "worldwide dissemination of a
culture of pleasure as the ultimate desirable good." and on an
"entirely individualistic philosophy of me and I."
Co-convening organizations represented Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and
secular groups, and included The Australian Family Association, The
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Office for Women, The
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Endeavour Forum (Australia),
Family Research Council, The Latin American Alliance for the Family, The
Organization of the Islamic Conference, The Relief Society Organization of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Toward Tradition.
Our program featured Eight Plenary and 20 Concurrent sessions,
involving speakers from 36 countries. Dom Duarte, The Duke of Braganza
(and titular King of Portugal), served as one of the seven Co-Chairman of
the Congress, who presided over these sessions. The other Co-Chairman were
Charles Francis QC, of Australia, Dr. John A. Howard, Ambassador Mokhtar
Lamani, Professor Arcadi Nebolsine, Juliette Sayegh, M.D., and Madame
Christine de Vollmer.