THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
ADOPTED UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BLIEF
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Third Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (1-12 December, 2008)
The Israel & OPT
Universal Periodic Review was held on
The Israel & OPT Adopted Universal Periodic Review is not presented after the Israel & OPT report on Freedom of Religion or Belief. It may be adopted at the tenth session of the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 19 March from . After the tenth session it will be on the OHCHR website under Countries: Human Rights in the World at: http://www.ohchr.org.
In the opinion of The
Tandem Project, the Universal Periodic Review on
The Tandem Project believes the advantage of a new Working Group as an on-going international focus outweighs the disadvantages. Matters now relating to freedom of religion or belief are split into several other human rights venues. The challenge is to reconcile international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief with the truth claims of religious and non-religious beliefs, not an easy task.
There are links with this
UPR report on
The visit of the UN
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief is in the documents of the tenth
session of the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/10/8/Add.2). This link is to her
The Open Letter to the
People of Israel and the
The letter to Conscience and Peace Tax International (CPTI) is a proposal to an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations to implement the Open Letter proposals on freedom of religion or belief.
CPTI as a stakeholder submitted a letter for the Israel & OPT Universal Periodic Review and an NGO Written Statement (A/HRC/10/NGO/68) for the tenth session of the UN Human Rights Council. Freedom House, another NGO submitted a written statement (A/HRC/10/NGO/69) on problems with the definition of “defamation of religions” and will receive a Tandem Project UPR follow-up letter.
A. Description of the methodology and the broad consultation process for the preparation of information provided under the Universal Periodic Review:
The Tandem Project, a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, submits information for the Universal Periodic Review on issues relevant to Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, and other matters related to freedom of religion or belief.
The U.S. State Department 2007 Religious Freedom Report is the source of this information. Excerpts comply with original five page limit for NGO Submissions under General Guidelines 5/1 for the Universal Periodic Review. There is a source link below to the complete report.*
B. Background of the country under review and framework, particularly normative and institutional framework, for the promotion and protection of human rights: constitution, legislation, policy measures, national jurisprudence, human rights infrastructure including national human rights institutions and scope of international obligations identified in the “basis of review” in resolution 5/1, annex: section 1.A.
Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief
Based on its pre-1967 borders, the country has an area of 7,685 square miles, and its population is 7.15 million, of which 5.4 million are Jewish, 1.4 million are Arabs, and 310,000 are classified as "other"--mostly persons from the former Soviet Union who immigrated under the Law of Return but who did not qualify as Jews according to the Orthodox Jewish definition or the definition used by the Government for civil procedures. According to a government survey conducted in 2004 and published in 2005, approximately 8 percent of the Jewish population are Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox, and another 9 percent are Orthodox, while 39 percent describe themselves as "traditionally observant" or "traditional," and 44 percent describe themselves as "secular" Jews, most of whom observed some Jewish traditions. A growing but still small number of traditional and secular Jews associate themselves with the Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist streams of Judaism, which are not officially recognized for purposes of civil and personal status matters involving their adherents. Although the Government does not officially recognize them, these streams of Judaism received a small amount of government funding and were recognized by the country's courts.
Slightly more than 20 percent of the population is non-Jewish, the vast majority of whom are ethnically Arab. Of this number, Muslims constitute 16 percent, Christians 2.1 percent; Druze 1.5 percent; and members of other religious groups 0.5 percent, including relatively small communities of evangelical Christians, Messianic Jews (those who consider themselves Jewish but believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah), and Jehovah's Witnesses.
There is no
constitution; however, the Basic Law on Human Dignity and
quo" agreement reached at the founding of the state, which has been upheld
throughout the state's history, provides that the Government will implement
certain policies based on Orthodox Jewish interpretations of religious law. For
example, the Government does not allow civil marriage and does not recognize
Jewish marriages performed in the country unless they are performed by the
Orthodox Jewish establishment. Exclusive control over marriages resides by law
with recognized bodies of the recognized religious denominations. The Orthodox
Jewish establishment also determines who is buried in Jewish state cemeteries,
limiting this right to individuals considered "Jewish" by the Orthodox
standards. In addition, the national airline El Al and public buses in every
C. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground: implementation of international human rights obligations identified in the “basis of review” in resolution 5/1, annex, section IA, national legislation and voluntary commitments, national human rights institutions activities, public awareness of human rights, cooperation with human rights mechanisms.
policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion;
however, problems continued. Muslim, Christian, and Orthodox Jewish religious authorities
have exclusive control over personal status matters, including marriage,
divorce, and burial, within their respective communities. Many Jewish citizens
objected to such exclusive control by the Orthodox establishment over Jewish
marriages and other personal status matters, and to the absence of provision
for civil marriage. Approximately 306,000 immigrants from the former
In November 2004 the Arab-Israeli advocacy group Adalah petitioned the Supreme Court to compel the Government to protect Muslim sites. Adalah charged that all of the locations designated as holy sites were Jewish, and the Government's failure to implement regulations had resulted in desecration and conversion of individual Muslim sites. Responding to a 2004 Supreme Court order to respond within 60 days, the Government stated in January 2006 that it had appointed an interministerial committee to examine the administrative and budgetary management of holy sites. The Supreme Court, which repeatedly rescheduled the initial hearing since 2004, had still not heard the case by the end of the reporting period. At the end of the reporting period there were 136 designated holy sites in the country, all of which were Jewish.
There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice. Relations among religious and ethnic groups--between Jews and non-Jews, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and non-Arabs, secular and religious Jews, and among the different streams of Judaism--often were strained. Tensions between Jews and non-Jews were the result of historical grievances as well as cultural and religious differences, and they were compounded by governmental and societal discrimination against Israeli-Arabs, both Muslim and Christian. These tensions were heightened by the summer 2006 conflict with Hizballah and the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which included terrorist attacks targeting Jewish civilians, IDF operations in the Occupied Territories, incidents of Jewish militants targeting Israeli-Arabs, and incidents of Israeli-Arab involvement in terrorist activity.
between secular and religious Jews continued during the period covered by this
report. Non-Orthodox Jews have complained of discrimination and intolerance by
members of ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups. Persons who consider themselves Jewish
but who are not considered Jewish under Orthodox law particularly complained of
discrimination. As in past years, ultra-Orthodox Jews in
Numerous NGOs in the country were dedicated to promoting Jewish-Arab coexistence and interfaith understanding. Their programs included events to increase productive contact between religious groups and to promote Jewish-Arab dialogue and cooperation. These groups and their events have had varying degrees of success. Interfaith dialogue often was linked to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians and between the country and its Arab neighbors. A variety of NGOs existed that sought to build understanding and create dialogue between religious groups and between religious and secular Jewish communities. Several examples were the Gesher Foundation (Hebrew for "bridge"); Meitarim, which operates a pluralistic Jewish-oriented school system; and the Interreligious Coordinating Council, which promoted interfaith dialogue among Jewish, Muslim, and Christian institutions.
* Direct Link to complete report: Overview; Religious Demography; Legal/Policy Framework; Restrictions on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Societal Abuse and Discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. Click to open the complete report:
Source: US State
Department 2007 International Religious Freedom Report;
Source: US State
Department 2008 Religious Freedom Report;
Links to State Department sites are welcomed. Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the State Department’s main website is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. Citation of the U.S. State Department as source of the information is appreciated.
Report: Report of the Working Group for the Universal Periodic Review. This report includes Conclusions and Recommendations. After Adoption of the Review in the tenth session of the UN Human Rights Council it will be posted on the OHCHR website under countries.
Related Web Cast Archives: Other reports and inter-active dialogues. Open by clicking above on archives to the UN Human Rights Council website.
To be posted on OHCHR website after Adoption of the UPR.
THE TANDEM PROJECT OBJECTIVES
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 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
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 the standards should be part of the follow-up to the Israel Universal Periodic Review.
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.
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 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.”
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, respectful and thoughtful responses, discussion of taboos and clarity by persons of diverse beliefs. Inclusive and genuine is dialogue between people of theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. These UN categories embodied in international law 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, and 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 are the key to raising awareness and acceptance of the value of holding truth claims in tandem with human rights standards on freedom of 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 use 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
History: 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: 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.