THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
BETWEEN THE 50 AND 60 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF
THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
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Issue: Recalling 50 Year Anniversary Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Launch of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief and steps leading to 60 Year Anniversary.
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Review: The Word Documents attached recall significant steps leading to the 60 year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Between the 50 & 60 Year Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Prague Speakers – 25 Year Commemoration of 1981 U.N. Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Now is the Time for a U.N. Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The 60 Year
Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be celebrated on
The 1998 Oslo Conference was sponsored and co-organized by, among others, the Norwegian Cooperation Council for Faith and Life Stance Societies, an NGO that reflects the inclusive objective of the United Nations to protect all theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The Norwegian Cooperation Council to this day is an NGO truly reflecting this approach.
The 1998 Oslo Conference was a paradigm shift in the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, changing his title from Religious Intolerance to Freedom of Religion or Belief, the title of the current U.N. Special Rapporteur for the mandate. This was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1999 and is in use in the United Nations system today.
The 1998 Oslo Conference led to the organization of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Oslo Coalition is organized under the Norwegian Institute for Human Rights in the University of Oslo Law School. It works on a project basis currently with the following programs: New Directions in Islamic Thought and Practice; Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief; Missionary Activity and Human Rights; Teaching for Tolerance and Freedom of Religion or Belief; China Project; Indonesia Project; Caucasus Project.
Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief: http://www.oslocoalition.org.
The 1999 Report (E/CN.4/1999/58) of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights reflects on these outcomes. His full report is linked below followed by relevant paragraphs on these outcomes and an Issue Statement.
Paragraph 121 in the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance report recommends a new methodology for reports on all U.N. Member States, religions or beliefs. This may be considered a small step, among others, leading to the launch in 2008 of the new U.N. Human Rights Council methodology called the Universal Periodic Review.
7. 1 The rights and freedoms set forth in the present Declaration shall be accorded in national legislation in such a manner that everyone shall be able to avail himself of such rights and freedoms in practice.
U.N. REPORT ON THE 5O YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE
THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
II. INITIATIVES BY STATES AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
15. The Conference, which was attended by
representatives of Governments, religious communities (Buddhist, Christian,
Jewish, Muslim, etc.) academic institutions and NGOs, adopted the
(a) Change in the Special Rapporteur’s title, to “Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief”; study and application of articles 18 of the Covenant and the 1981 Declaration as a way of solving problems of intolerance and discrimination; creation of educational programs using the 1981 Declaration as a universal standard to build a culture of tolerance, understanding and respect; use by United Nations Member States of the 1981 Declaration and other instruments to promote mediation and negotiation and resolve intolerance, discrimination, injustice and violence in conflicts where religion or belief plays a role; research and development of other informational resources and methodologies for collecting information, initiating comparative studies, etc.
3. Title and Consistency of the Mandate
122. The Special Rapporteur reiterates his recommendation that a more neutral and encouraging title, such as “Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief”, should be used. The present one, with its reference to religious intolerance, antagonizes certain interlocutors and sometimes makes dialogue difficult. A different title could embrace all aspects of freedom of religion or belief. It must also be consistent with the mandate, covering not only religion but also belief and intolerance, as well as discrimination, and reflect the balanced dialogue-orientated approach followed by the Special Rapporteur in his work, in accordance with the resolutions governing his mandate.
ISSUE STATEMENT: International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief are international human rights treaty law and universal codes of conduct for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts. The standards are a platform for inclusive dialogue on core principles and values within and among nations, all religions and other beliefs.
General Comment 22 (48)
Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Human
General Comment 22 (48) Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Human Rights Committee, 20 July 1993 (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4): The Committee observes that the concept of morals derives from many social, philosophical and religious traditions; consequently, limitations on the freedom to manifest a religion or belief for the purpose of protecting morals must be based on principles not deriving exclusively from a single tradition.
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.
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.
C&C DATABASE: http://www.tandemproject.com/databases/forms/card.htm
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
Goal: To eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.
Purpose: To 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 utilize International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as essential for long-term solutions to conflicts in all matters relating to religion or belief.
1. Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as a platform for genuine dialogue on the core 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
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:
Should the United Nations adopt an International Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief?
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.
Separation of Religion or Belief and State
Concept: Separation of Religion or Belief and State - SOROBAS. The First Preamble to the 1948 United Nations
Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads; “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. This concept
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,
Article 18: protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The terms belief and religion are to be broadly construed. Article 18 is not limited in its application to traditional religions or to religions and beliefs with international characteristics or practices analogous to those of traditional religions. The Committee therefore views with concern any tendency to discriminate against any religion or belief for any reasons, including the fact that they are newly established, or represent religious minorities that may be the subject of hostility by a predominant religious community. Article 18: permits restrictions to manifest a religion or belief only if such limitations are prescribed by law and necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of
Religion or Belief are used to review the actions of governments, religions or
beliefs, non-governmental organizations and civil society under constitutional
systems such as Separation of Church and State,
Dialogue: 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.”
International Human Rights Standards on Freedom or Religion or Belief are international law and universal codes of conduct for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts. The standards are a platform for genuine dialogue on core principles and values within and among nations, all religions and other beliefs.
The 1981 U.N. Declaration states; “Every child shall enjoy the right to have access to education in the matter of religion or belief in accordance with the wishes of his parents, and shall not be compelled to receive teaching on religion or belief against the wishes of his parents, the best interests of the child being the guiding principle.” With International Human Rights safeguards, early childhood education is the best time to begin to build tolerance, understanding and respect for freedom of religion or belief.