International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 49th Session (28 February – 1 April 2022)
Item 8: General Debate
The Vienna Declaration “underlines the importance of […] promoting respect for the rights of the child to protection, development and participation.”
Accordingly, we welcome the resolution this session on realizing the rights of the child, in the context of family reunification. As the resolution notes, “millions of children worldwide continue to grow up deprived of parental care or separated from their families.” 
This is an appalling reality. All children deserve a family environment offering love, protection, belonging, and support, so that they can thrive, feel safe and happy, and become the people they wish to become.
In this context, we must remember that families come in various and diverse forms. This includes single parent families, cross-generational families, LGBTI-headed families (including same-sex parents), childless families, and child-headed families.
And, we must be wary of arguments which posit the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society,” or those which attribute rights to the family itself. It is individuals within the family who have rights. Indeed, it is sometimes families themselves which perpetuate discriminatory and harmful values and practices against children and other members, and violate their rights.
Established principles of international human rights law uphold the rights of all children within families to be free from coercion, violence and discrimination; free to go on to create new families on an equal basis; and free to become part of diverse forms of families around the world.
All children deserve love and protection in a family environment; we urge the Council to help ensure this, and to remember the beautifully varied forms in which this environment can be manifested.
 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, para 45.
 Tabled Resolution A/HRC/49/L.29, Rights of the child: realizing the rights of the child and family reunification
 See e.g. Resolution 2A/HRC/RES/26/11
'Reminder to the Human Rights Council that families come in diverse and varied forms', Humanists International