Contesting “Family” at the United Nations Human Rights Council

in Religion & Human Rights
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Abstract

There is general agreement that families are considered an important building block of society. However, in international fora, there is significant disagreement about what constitutes family. This article discusses the development of the Protection of the Family initiative at the UN’s primary human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council. This article uses Protection of the Family resolutions at the Council to build upon theories of norm contestation in international relations and international law. Elite-level interviews and participant observation of Council meetings on the four Protection of the Family resolutions adopted at the Council show that both advocates and opponents of Protection of the Family argue that their positions adhere to universal rights and prior law while their opponents are revisionist. In addition, the article illustrates a series of new strategies adopted by advocates of Protection of the Family that may be used in other resolutions to advance human rights agendas.