28th European Conference of Ministers responsible for Family Affairs
’’Changes in parenting: children today, parents tomorrow ‘’
Lisbon, 16 - 17 May 2006 

Message of Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe

The Ministers responsible for Family Affairs of the Council of Europe member States have been meeting regularly since 1959. At their 28th meeting in Lisbon they will focus on the implementation of sustainable family policies in the context of new family forms.

The concept of family has changed over time, but families remain the core unit of our societies. Family policies should therefore be supportive and respect parents and children as active participants in the decisions that affect their lives and roles.

At their Summit last year, the Council of Europe Heads of State and Government expressed their determination to promote children’s rights and to fully comply with the obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. They launched the programme “Building a Europe for and with Children” as part of their Action Plan, a programme which aims to promote children’s rights and specifically their right to be protected from all forms of violence. Protection should be universal, benefiting all children and applying in all settings, including within the family.

The eradication of violence within the family calls for clear legal frameworks accompanied by awareness-raising campaigns, information and training of relevant stakeholders and providing for opportunities to meaningfully interact with their main targets and actors: children and parents.

Rights and obligations related to family life are reflected in several Council of Europe instruments. Our Organisation is presently working on guidelines for positive parenting, which are meant to help parents – and other people having responsibilities for children – in bringing up children in a nurturing and empowering way, without any violence.

Identifying the necessary supportive measures while respecting the privacy of the family requires the involvement of the different actors, among them the government, the private sector, civil society and the parents and children themselves.

The family, in all its forms, has to remain a viable unit with an important social function. The Council of Europe will follow this evolving notion of family to ensure that it continues to play a valuable role in the building of a stable and cohesive Europe.