THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S HOPE - GEORGE ORWELL’S 1984
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Issue: U.S. President Obama’s hope and a note of caution from George Orwell’s 1984.
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Review: On the eve of
Erich Fromm, writing an Afterward to George Orwell’s 1984 said “doublethink,” a term coined by the novel, means “in a successful manipulation of the mind the person is no longer saying the opposite of what he thinks, but he thinks the opposite of what is true.” In Orwell’s 1984 it leads to the completely unlimited use of torture and brainwashing. Fromm ended by saying, “Books like Orwell’s are powerful warnings, and it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as another description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too.”
Doublethink is when a government at the highest level believes water boarding is not torture or a violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Doublethink is when they do not believe they have violated the Geneva Conventions by interpreting terrorists as non-combatants without rights. Actions based on these beliefs are a violation of the United States Constitution. They may be war crimes as defined by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The new administration should act against these breaches in the rule of law or lend support to an independent truth commission.
Norms and standards on
human rights have been challenged recently by
These issues are being debated by the UN Human Rights Council on the role of human rights. If opponents of human rights are able to compromise and manipulate these principles in a UN General Assembly resolution adopting their vision of the rule of law this will be doublethink, deflecting the true meaning of standards to promote tolerance and prevent discrimination based on religion or belief. (See attachments).
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.”
As we are all painfully
aware, religious conflict continues to escalate worldwide whether in the
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.
3-14 December 2009 is the 25 year anniversary of the 1984 Geneva Seminar called by the UN Secretariat on ways to implement the 1981 U.N. Declaration 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.
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.
4. 1 All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.
A Novel by George Orwell
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Slogans of party newspeak from the novel
Afterword by Erich Fromm
George Orwell’s 1984 is the expression of a mood and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons, and will not even be aware of it.
The question is a philosophical, anthropological and psychological one, and perhaps also a religious one. It is: can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love – that is to say, can man forget that he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one?
Orwell wrote 1984 before the discovery of thermonuclear weapons and it is only a history footnote to say that in the fifties the very aim which was just mentioned had already been reached. The atomic bomb which was dropped on the Japanese cities seems small and ineffective when compared with the mass slaughter which can be achieved by thermonuclear weapons with the capacity to wipe out 90 per cent or 100 per cent of a country’s population within minutes.
The importance of Orwell’s concept of war lies in a number of very keen observations.
First of all, he shows the economic significance of continuous arms production, without which the economic system cannot function. Furthermore, he gives an impressive picture of how a society must develop which is constantly preparing for war, constantly afraid of being attacked, and preparing to find the means of complete annihilation of its opponents.
Orwell’s picture is so pertinent because it offers a telling argument against the popular idea that we can save freedom and democracy by continuing the arms race and finding a “stable” deterrent. This soothing picture ignores the fact that with increasing technical “progress” (which creates entirely new weapons about every 5 years, and will soon permit the development of 100 or 1000 instead of 10 megaton bombs), the whole society will be forced to live underground, but that the destructive strength of thermonuclear bombs will always remain greater than the depth of the cave , that the military will become dominant (in fact, if not in law), that fright and hatred or a possible aggressor will destroy the basic attitudes of a democratic, humanistic society.
In other words, the continued arms race, even if it would not lead to the outbreak of a thermonuclear war, would lead to the destruction of any of those three qualities of our society which can be called “democratic,” “free,” or “in the American tradition.” Orwell demonstrates the illusion of the assumption that democracy can continue to exist in a world preparing for nuclear war and he does so imaginatively and brilliantly.
Another important aspect is
Orwell’s description of the nature of truth, which on the surface is a picture
of Stalin’s treatment of truth, especially in the thirties. But anyone who sees
in Orwell’s description only another denunciation of Stalinism is missing an
essential element of Orwell’s analysis. He is actually talking about a
development which is taking place in the Western industrial countries also,
only at a slower pace than it is taking place in
The basic question which Orwell raises is whether there is any such thing as “truth.” “Reality,” so the ruling party holds, “is not external. Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else…whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.” If this is so, then by controlling men’s minds the Party controls truth. In a dramatic conversation between the protagonist of the Party and the beaten rebel, a conversation which is a worthy analogy to Dostoyevsky’s conversation between the Inquisitor and Jesus, the basic principles of the Party are explained. In contrast to the Inquisitor, however, the leaders of the Party do not even pretend that their system is intended to make men happier, because men, being frail and cowardly creatures, want to escape freedom and are unable to face truth.
The leaders are aware of the fact that they themselves have only one aim, and that is power. To them “power is not a means; it is an end. And power means the capacity to inflict unlimited pain and suffering to another human being.” Power, then, for them creates reality, it creates truth. The position which Orwell attributes here to the power elite can be said to be an extreme form of philosophical idealism, but it is more to the point to recognize that the concept of truth and reality which exists in 1984 is an extreme form of pragmatism in which truth becomes subordinate to the Party.
ISSUE STATEMENT: The new
International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief are international law and 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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
1981 U.N. Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief
5.2: 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.
5.3: The child shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, and friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, respect for the freedom of religion or belief of others and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.