THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
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To: USA; Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Civil Society.
Re: Open Letter on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief
Subject: Solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief
As we are all painfully aware, religious conflict continues to escalate worldwide. Acceptance of the rights of others to their own beliefs continues to be a value denied for millions of people. Much suffering is inflicted in the name of religion or belief on minorities, women and children and “the other” for the most part by perpetrators in total disregard for the tenets of their own faiths.
Surely one of the best hopes for 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.
In 2008 the United Nations Human Rights Council launched the Universal Periodic Review. Sometime between 2008 and 2011 all United Nations Member States will receive a Universal Periodic Review on progress to fulfill their human rights responsibilities and obligations.
The United States Universal Periodic Review will be held by the UN Human Rights Council in December 2010.
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. Another writer in a different setting 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.
Michael M. Roan
The Tandem Project
Challenge: to reconcile international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief with the truth claims of religious and non-religious beliefs.
Did God create us or did we create God? This question calls for inclusive and genuine dialogue, discussion of taboos and clarity by persons of diverse beliefs. Inclusive and genuine dialogue is between people of theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. These UN categories are embodied in international law to promote tolerance and prevent discrimination based on religion or belief.
Inclusive and genuine dialogue is essential as a first step in recognition of the inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as a foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world. Leaders of religious and non-religious beliefs sanction the truth claims of their own traditions. They serve their membership and maintain institutional structures within their communities. These leaders are a key to understanding the need for inclusive and genuine dialogue on freedom of religion or belief
Can pluralism and personal choice be taught in early childhood education systems in public, private and religious schools and places of worship? Good education begins both from the top down and the bottom up.
The following example for early childhood education will not apply to other religions, public, private, religious schools or places of worship. Each religion or belief and government education system in this paradigm will adapt their own education curricula to human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief. Any religious or non-religious belief may have been selected as the example.
Lutheran Bible Study for pre-school children: Click on the link, click on lessons, and then click to view individual lessons and levels. Example: can you adapt the phrase on human rights standards (italics) to these pre-school lessons? (This is a conservative Lutheran religious denomination).
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.
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.
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.
C&C DATABASE: http://www.tandemproject.com/databases/forms/card.htm
CONCEPT: Study Topic on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief: