THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
FOLLOW-UP TO THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR AND POPE
ADDRESS SECULARISM IN
Issue: Re-examining the principle of laicite
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Review: Pope Addresses Secularism in
France, and Benedict XVI Urges Redefining State-Church Divide in
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, in her report on France to the U.N. Human Rights Council on March 8 2006, (E/CN.4/2006/5/Add.4) recommended to the government that the French principle of laicite, almost equivalent to secularism or separation of church and state, be among the issues re-examined in light of the prevailing situation in France today.
A Word Document is attached for the France Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The addendum to recommendations made by the U.N. Human Rights Council before adoption of the UPR Outcome indicates suggestions made by Pope Benedict XVI and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to re-examine laicite in light of the present situation today will not be part of the Follow-up to the French Universal Periodic Review.
The Tandem Project believes Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief should be part of the Follow-up process to the France Universal Periodic Review process. This includes re-examining the principle of laicite and the option of an International Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Excerpts: Excerpts 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.
Link to New York Times
article Pope Addresses Secularism in
Link to Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief,
1. 1 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practices and teaching.
1. 2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.
1. 3 Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
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.
2. 2 For the purposes of the present Declaration, the expression ‘intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief’ means any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.
U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
The principle of laicite
96. The Special Rapporteur notes that the situation prevailing today in France is different from the one which existed at the time of the adoption of the 1905 law on the separation of Church and State (loi concernant la separation des Eglises et de l’Etat), which constitutes the basis of the principle of laicite (which is almost equivalent to secularism) in France. While recognizing that the organization of a society according to his principle may not only be healthy, but also guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief, she is concerned that, in some circumstances, the selective interpretation and right application of the principle has operated at the expense of the right to freedom of religion or belief. – E/CN.4/2006/5/Add.4)
ADDRESSES SECULARISM IN
PARIS – In his first visit to France as pope on Friday, Benedict XVI touched on central themes of his papacy – the tensions between faith and reason and church and state, as well as his efforts to reach out to Muslims and Jews – and urged an increasingly irreligious Europe to look back to its intellectual roots in Christian monastic culture.
Roman Catholics make up about 60 percent of the French population of 65 million. But fewer than 10 percent of French Catholics say they attend Mass regularly.
“At this moment in history, when cultures continue to cross paths more frequently, I am firmly convinced that a new reflection on the true meaning and importance of secularism is now necessary,” the pope said at a ceremony earlier Friday with President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace. He used the word “laicite” which denotes separation of church and state.
But the pope proposed a “distinction between the political realm and that of religion in order to preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the state toward them.” He distinguished the state’s legislative and social duties from religion’s role “for the formation of conscience” and the “creation of a basic ethical consensus in society.”
The pope is visiting France almost exactly two years after he made a speech in Regansburg, Germany, in which he angered many Muslims by quoting a 14 century Byzantine emperor as saying that the Prophet Muhammad brought “things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
“That’s the past,” said Mohammed Moussaoui, the
Meeting privately with French Jews on Friday, the pope spoke vehemently about the church’s opposition to “every form of anti-Semitism which can never be theologically justified,” according to a transcript of his remarks.
Speaking before the pope at the
XVI URGES REDEFINING STATE-CHURCH DIVIDE IN
In his speech to the bishops, the pope also
amplified his call for a redefinition of “laicite” the
divide between church and state, that he first raised at a visit to the
“The social and political presuppositions of past mistrust or even hostility are gradually disappearing, “the pope said. But, he added, “The church does not claim the prerogative of the state.”
ISSUE STATEMENT United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, at the Alliance of Civilizations Madrid 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.” A writer 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.”
Genuine dialogue in
Inter-religious, inter-cultural dialogue need to understand international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief may be the best way to protect religious and non-religious core beliefs, principles, national histories and local cultures. The goal to eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief is slowly becoming a reality, practical and necessary, under international human rights law.
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 Tandem Project Concept, Separation of Religion or Belief and State (SOROBAS) supports the U.N. Human Rights Council in their responsibility to monitor implementation of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The Tandem Project using international human rights law reviews the actions of governments and civil society living under separation of church and state, state church, theocratic or other legal frameworks. The concept is equal and fair protection for all theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief in tandem with the rule of law and international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief.
The Tandem Project Dialogue & Education UPR Objectives: (1) Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as a platform for genuine dialogue on deeply-held principles and values within and among nations, all religions and other beliefs. (2) Adapt these human rights standards to early childhood education, teaching children, from the very beginning, that their own religion is one out of many and that it is a personal choice for everyone to adhere to the religion or belief by which he or she feels most inspired, or to adhere to no religion or belief at all.1
Inter-religious, inter-cultural dialogues focus on fundamental values shared virtually universally by public, private, religious and non-religious organizations to change how our cultures view differences, how we often behave toward one another and to forestall the reflexive hostility we see so vividly around the world.
Surely one of the best hopes for the future of humankind is to embrace a culture in which religions and other beliefs accept one another, in which wars and violence are not tolerated in the name of an exclusive right to truth, in which children are raised to solve conflicts with mediation, compassion and understanding.
International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief are international law and universal codes of conduct for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts. The identification of achievements, best practices, challenges and constraints on these standards should be part of the follow-up to the France Universal Periodic Review.
Submit information under the Eight Articles and sub-paragraphs of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief by using The Tandem Project Country & Community Database.
The Tandem Project: a non-governmental organization founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance and respect for diversity, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project, a non-profit NGO, 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 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The Tandem Project initiative is the result of a co-founder representing the World Federation of United Nations Associations at the United Nations Geneva Seminar, Encouragement of Understanding, Tolerance and Respect in Matters Relating to Freedom of Religion or Belief, called by the UN Secretariat in 1984 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 is: 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