In 1995, the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen, recognized the importance of the family as the basic unit of society, and acknowledged that it played a key role in social development and as such should be strengthened, with attention to the rights, capabilities and responsibilities of its members. The Programme of Action of the World Social Summit acknowledged that in different cultural, political and social systems various forms of family exist and that the family was entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support.
Within the United Nations system, the Focal Point on the Family, located in the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), builds an awareness of the global situation of families and promotes family-oriented policies and programmes.
The Focal Point on the Family works to:
- Promote the objectives of the International Year of the Family (1994) and its follow-up processes;
- Advocate to integrate a family perspective into national, regional and international development agendas;
- Promote the integration of a family perspective into policy-making at the national, regional and international levels;
- Provide substantive servicing in the areas of family and family policy to United Nations intergovernmental bodies, particularly the General Assembly, the Commission for Social Development and the Economic and Social Council;
- Encourage and support coordination on policies and programmes within national governments and within the UN system;
- Support research on family issues;
- Provide technical assistance and capacity-building for family policy development and projects for family wellbeing;
- Exchange good practices in family policy making; disseminate information and support networking on family issues; and
- Engage in dialogue with Governments, UN agencies, civil society, the private sector and academics, facilitating the exchange of good practices in family policy making.