THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
Issue: Discrimination by
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Review: Zimbabwe’s Rulers Unleash Police on Anglicans, by Celia W. Dugger, New York Times, 16 May 2008; “Johannesburg- The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabewe’s capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.”
This is an egregious example of the violation of the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: Article 2. 1 No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons or person on the grounds of religion or other beliefs; Article 6. 1 To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief, and to establish and maintain places for these purposes. These parishioners of the Anglican tradition of Christian religion allegedly were a threat to present government in power because of who was led them in worship.
Extracts from the story begin on the third page followed by an Issue Statement
Closing the Gap - International Standards for National and Local Applications
Objective: Build understanding and support for Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights –Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Encourage the United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media and Civil Society to consider the rule of law and international human rights standards as essential for long-term solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief.
Challenge: In 1968 the United Nations deferred work on an International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance, because of its apparent complexity and sensitivity. In the twenty-first century, a dramatic increase of intolerance and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief is motivating a worldwide search to find solutions to these problems. This is a challenge calling for enhanced dialogue by States and others; including consideration of an International Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief for protection of and accountability by all religions or beliefs. The tensions in today’s world inspire a question such as:
Response: Is it the appropriate moment to
reinitiate the drafting of a legally binding international convention on
freedom of religion or belief? Law making of this nature requires a minimum
consensus and an environment that appeals to reason rather than emotions. At
the same time we are on a learning curve as the various dimensions of the
Declaration are being explored. Many academics have produced voluminous books
on these questions but more ground has to be prepared before setting up of a UN
working group on drafting a convention. In my opinion, we should not try to
rush the elaboration of a Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief,
especially not in times of high tensions and unpreparedness. - UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief,
Option: After forty years this may be the time, however complex and sensitive, for the United Nations Human Rights Council to appoint an Open-ended Working Group to draft a United Nations Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The mandate for an Open-ended Working Group ought to assure nothing in a draft Convention will be construed as restricting or derogating from any right defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights, and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. One writer has said; “Religion raises the stakes of human conflict much higher than tribalism, racism, or politics ever can…it casts the differences between people in terms of eternal rewards and punishments.”
Concept: Separation of Religion or
Belief and State – SOROBAS. The starting point for this concept is the First
Preamble to the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice
and peace in the world. It suggests
States recalling their history, culture and constitution adopt fair and equal
human rights protection for all religions or beliefs as described in General
Comment 22 on Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
UN Human Rights Committee,
Dialogue & Education
Dialogue: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, at an Alliance of Civilizations Forum said; “Never in our lifetime has there been a more desperate need for constructive and committed dialogue, among individuals, among communities, among cultures, among and between nations.” An author in another setting has said, “The warning signs are clear: unless we establish genuine dialogue within and among all kinds of belief, ranging from religious fundamentalism to secular dogmatism, the conflicts of the future will probably be even more deadly.” There are varying degrees of cooperation, competition and conflict within and between religions or beliefs. International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief is international human rights law and a code of conduct to promote cooperation, regulate competition and resolve conflicts. To include the value and use of these International Standards for world peace is genuine dialogue on freedom of religion or belief
Extracts: Extracts are presented under the Eight Articles of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Examples of extracts are presented prior to an Issue Statement for each Review.
2. 1 No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons or person on the grounds of religion or other beliefs.
6. 1 To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief, and to establish and maintain places for these purposes;
Anglican leaders and parishioners said in
interviews that the church was not concerned with politics and that it counted
people from both the ruling party and the opposition in its congregations. Yet
the ruling party appears to have decided that only Anglicans who follow Nolbert
Kunonga – a renegade bishop in
Over the past three Sundays, the police have interrogated Anglican priests and lay leaders, arrested and beaten parishioners and locked thousands of worshipers out of dozens of churches.
Church leaders say the struggle in the Anglican diocese of Harare is not only over its extensive, valuable properties, but also over who controls the church itself in a society riven by political divisions, especially since the disputed elections of March 29. Mr. Kunonga, who broke with the church hierarchy last year and recently called Mr. Mugabe ‘a prophet of God’ is known in Zimbabwe as an avid supporter of the ruling party and a proponent of its seizures of white-owned commercial farms, often accomplished violently. In fact, he appears to have benefited richly from the policy himself.
The worldwide Anglican Communion issued a statement in January expressing ‘deep concern’ about Mr. Kunonga’s close ties to Mr. Mugabe. Then on April 21, amid the post election intimidation of opposition supporters, the communion called on all Christians to pray for Zimbabwe’s rescue ‘from violence, the concealing and juggling of election results, deceit, oppression and corruption.’
Despite a High Court order requiring that Anglican churches be shared among the worshipers, church officials say that only people who attend services led by priests allied with Mr. Kunonga have been allowed to pray in peace. This week, the Supreme Court dismissed Mr. Kunonga’s appeal of the sharing order, but church leaders say they are far from sure the law will be enforced.
Despite a Supreme Court order requiring that the renegade Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a supporter of President Robert Mugabe, share dozens of churches in Harare, the capital, with followers of Bishop Sebastian Bakare, church officials and parishioners said the police had continued to harass and lock out the bulk of the city’s Anglicans.
“The police have continued to brutalize people,
which is sad, said Bishop Albert Chama, the dean of the
Bishop Chama said Bishop Kunonga was excommunicated from the church last week because he had broken away to start his own church and failed to follow church canons. Zimbabwean security forces and state-sponsored youth militia have been cracking down on the political opposition and other independent groups, including the Anglican Church ahead of a June 27 presidential runoff.
Zimbabwe is in violation of these provisions of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: “In accordance with Article 1 of the present Declaration, and subject to the provisions of Article 1, paragraph 3, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief shall include, inter alia, the following freedoms: 6. 1 To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief, and to establish and maintain places for these purposes; 6. 7 To train, appoint, elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief.”
The Zimbabwe Initial Report to the U.N. Human Rights Committee after acceding to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1992 is available by opening this link:
Reply: The Tandem Project Country & Community Database collects information worldwide on United Nations Human Rights Bodies. The information is used for UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR); UN Treaty-based Reports; UN Special Procedures, Special Rapporteur Reports. Click on the link below to open the Database. Read the Instructions & Table of Contents: scroll to an Article of your choice and click to reply.
The Tandem Project: a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1986 to build understanding and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The Tandem Project initiative was launched in 1986 as the result of a co-founder representing the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) at a 1984 United Nations Geneva Seminar, Encouragement of Understanding, Tolerance and Respect in Matters Relating to Freedom of Religion or Belief, called by the UN Secretariat on ways to implement the 1981 UN Declaration. In 1986, The Tandem Project organized the first NGO International Conference on the 1981 UN Declaration.
The Tandem Project
Executive Director: Michael M. Roan, email@example.com.
The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations