The family is the fundamental and natural unit of the society and requires the full protection of the state. The human rights law upholds the positive right of all people to marry and found a family, the idea of equal and consenting marriage and tries to guard the society against abuses which might undermine these principles. It is not prescriptive as to the types of families and marriages that are acceptable, recognizing tacitly that there are many different forms of social arrangements around the world.
The family unit can be made vulnerable to social, economic, and political pressures. The human rights law seeks to bolster the family unit by specifying state obligations to keep families together and to reunify them when they have become separated e.g. as a result of a refugee crises. It insists on maternity rights for mothers to allow time and space for the development of the bond between the mother and the child. It also prescribes detailed standards for the treatment of children who lack parental care and require state intervention and the provision of foster care or adoption.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that:
153 million children worldwide, ranging from infants to teenagers, have lost one or both parents;
HIV/AIDS has orphaned 17.9 million children, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia;
Over 1 billion children suffer from at least one form of severe deprivation of basic needs such as water, food, and sanitation;
19,000 children under the age of five died every day in 2011;
22 million children are refugees or internally displaced, forced to flee their homes due to violence or natural disaster;
Over 1 billion children live in countries affected by armed conflict;
67 million children of primary school age do not go to school;
Children suffer from domestic violence everywhere. On every continent, households report domestic violence against children at rates ranging from 20 to 60%.
The situation in different parts of the world
If we research this issue furthermore we will be able to find the following facts
In Sub-Saharan Africa 1 out of 9 children dies before the age of five;
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest risk of first-day-death for infants, and is the region showing the least progress towards ending infant mortality;
Malaria is a leading killer of children under five in Africa, leading to over 600,000 deaths in 2010;
The highest youth unemployment rates are in the Middle East and Africa, where one in four young people cannot find work
Asia is home to the largest number of orphaned children in the world; 60 million, at last count;
30 million children in East Asia suffer from at least one severe deprivation;
In the Russian Federation alone, 140,000 children with disabilities live in institutional care;
Under-five deaths are increasingly concentrated in Southern Asia – India and China are two of the countries with the highest rates of early childhood mortality;
Almost 30% of neonatal deaths occur in India
7.5 million girls are married before the age of 18 in Latin America and the Caribbean;
There are 10.2 million orphaned children in Latin America, 5% of all children in the region;
Women and children are especially vulnerable in Latin America; under age minors represent 50% of people living in extreme poverty
There are over 120,000 orphans in America, while another 400,000 children live without permanent families;
It is common for children in foster care to age out, leaving them with little financial or emotional support. 27,000 children age out of the system every year;
Almost 25% of youth aging out did not have a high school diploma or GED.
Previous attempts to resolve the issue
Numerous international organizations are involved in attempts to solve this vital problem.
Throughout the history of the issue, 19-01-2011 a resolution on this issue was passed in the plenary session of the UN:
“Adoption, and where necessary international adoption, should be encouraged, so as to give children who are abandoned or at risk of becoming institutionalized in orphanages a family life”, says the European Parliament in the approved resolution.
The resolution, presented by EPP, S&D, ALDE, ECR and GUE groups, stresses the need to protect a child's right to a family life and preclude the need for long stays in orphanages. It was approved by a show of hands.
Adoption or an alternative family care solution, such as foster and residential care, should preferably take place in the child's country of origin. Failing this, an adoptive family should be found in another EU Member State. Placing a child in institutional care should be the very last option and also a temporary one.
In cases of international adoption, Member States should recognize the "psychological, emotional, physical and social/ educational implications" of removing a child from his or her place of origin and offer appropriate assistance to the adoptive parents and the child. National authorities are also asked to report periodically on the child's development to his or her country of origin.
Facilitating adoption within the EU:
All EU institutions should play a more active role in the relevant international fora so as to facilitate international adoption procedures, and remove unnecessary bureaucracy whilst safeguarding children's rights.
The institutions should also explore the possibility of coordinating the use of the international adoption instrument at an EU level, whilst bearing in mind that adoption is a Member State competence. Co-ordination could, for example, improve assistance in information services, preparation for inter-country adoption, processing of application procedures, and post-adoption services.
Preventing child trafficking
The resolution insists that all EU institutions and countries must participate actively in the fight against child trafficking for adoption.
Proper control of all adoption documents, including birth certificates, is essential to remove doubts over a child's age or identity. A reliable system of birth registration can prevent child trafficking for adoption and all the requisite legal measures should be put into place to facilitate mutual recognition by Member States of adoption-related documents.