New York

04 December 2003

Secretary-General's message on the launch of the observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family (2004)

While families have always been the essential social unit in all societies, the observance of the International Year of the Family in 1994 drew worldwide attention to the issue as a fundamental issue of policy. Governments and actors at all levels –local, national, regional and global –were encouraged to support the well-being of families through a range of policies, programmes and strategies.

Ten years later, it is time to take stock, and to determine whether the situation of families has improved. This is not necessarily something that can be done at a global level, since the situation of families varies so greatly from country to country. Thus, during this anniversary year, I urge Governments at local and national levels to assess gains, setbacks and obstacles, and to consider what more can be done on issues of direct concern to families, such as poverty, the spread of HIV/AIDS, migration and the ageing of societies. The Secretariat, for its part, has undertaken a study on the situation of families in all regions of the world.

Families themselves play a vital role in our work for development and peace. It is my hope that the observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Year will be an occasion when all partners -- Governments, the UN system, non-governmental organizations and private enterprises –come together, reaffirm global commitment to the well-being of families, and work with determination towards that vital goal.