A family is a factual or legally recognized personal relationship between two partners, as well as the relationship between a parent and a child. The right to establish and maintain these relationships, as well as the right not to establish them, is protected by human rights.

The family & Human rights

We all have a certain role in a family, whether we or our parents established it. We also use the word “family” and refer to family related matters nearly every day.

Human rights protect close personal ties (the relationship) between you and your family members. This right is called the right to a private and family life.

But how well informed are we about different rights and obligations, including those towards other family members that we have as a spouse, parent or child? Further, can we ourselves decide on all issues regarding our reproductive health?

The right to a private and family life encompasses different aspects, such as:

  • your right to decide on all issues regarding your reproductive health, including your choice not to found a family
  • your right to know your origins
  • your right to found a family, including marriage, civil partnership and adoption issues
  • your relationship with your partner or spouse, including spousal rights and obligations
  • your relationship with your child as a parent, including parental authority
  • your relationship with your parent as a child, including maintenance of a relationship with both parents

About this Guide

This Guide will explain the meaning of the concept of “family” and the situations which can most commonly affect your reproductive rights, your spousal or parental rights and obligations, or your rights as a child. It will also explain how different actions in these situations can interfere with your human right to a private and family life.  

Assess your knowledge

If you wish to use the Guide for learning purposes, the Guide offers you a possibility to assess your knowledge in human rights before or after studying, by completing tests about different themes included in the Guide.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education