THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS: HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
MUSLIM IMAM & MUSLIM U.S. CONGRESSMAN
MINNEAPOLIS INTERFAITH DIALOGUE LEADERS
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Issue: A Muslim Imam & Muslim U.S. Congressman,
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Review: Representative Keith Ellison of
As friends the Muslim religious leader and the elected U.S. Congressman from Minneapolis are in a unique position to provide guidance to President Barack Obama’s White House Council for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships on: Local Delivery of Social Services by Religions or Beliefs using Federal Funds; National issues on Separation of Church and State; International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The UN General Assembly in 2008 adopted the Universal Periodic Review. Between 2008 and 2011 all United Nations Member States will have a Universal Periodic Review before the U.N. Human Rights Council on progress to fulfill their human rights responsibilities and obligations.
The United States Universal Periodic Review will be held during the ninth session of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review in December, 2010.
This link is a call to
develop a model
This proposal to develop a model United States
approach to freedom of religion or belief includes linking the White House
Council for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to the U.S. State
Department programs on human rights and freedom of religion or belief for:
Local Delivery of Social Services by Religions or Beliefs using Federal Funds;
National issues on Separation of Church and State; International Human Rights
Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Al-Nur Mosque of Makram
El-Amin, in a poor inner-city neighborhood of
In 1977 the
Congressman’s Imam Leads Interfaith Efforts
New York Times, by Samuel
On the evening after
Now Mr. Ellison had survived a bruising campaign for the Democratic nomination for Congress and was headed into a general election. It was bound to include even more scrutiny and vitriol from opponents, based on his past in the Nation of Islam and his present as a Sunni Muslim. So Mr. Ellison was calling, as Mr. El-Amin recounted the other day, not as a politician but as a congregant, seeking pastoral counsel.
“Be the person you’ve been all along,” Mr. El-Amin recalls telling Mr. Ellison in the 20 minute conversation. “Be a public servant, not an Islamic spokesman. Keep the interest of all the people in the forefront. That’s what Muhammad himself would do.”
The imam went on to build an especially durable
and important relationship with Rabbi Marcia A. Zimmerman of
During the divisive election campaign last fall, as Mr. Ellison was being attacked as supposedly condoning anti-Semitism and international terrorism, Rabbi Zimmerman made a point of inviting Mr. El-Amin to the temple to lead a study session about “understanding our neighbors.” It took place, quite deliberately, on Yom Kippur, the most scared holiday on the Jewish Calendar.”
Later, Ellison characterized his faith as mainstream American and tried to minimize the hype over Goode and the Quran, challenging an Arab journalist’s contention that “Americans dislike Muslims.” Ellison, the first black member of Congress from Minnesota, said earlier this week he chose to use Jefferson’s Quran because it showed a visionary like Jefferson believed wisdom could be gleaned from many sources, including the Quran.
ISSUE STATEMENT: 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 inclusive and genuine dialogue on core principles and values within and among nations, all religions and other beliefs.
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.
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.
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.