THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
ADOPTED UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
First Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (7-18 April, 2008)
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UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Universal Periodic Review was held by the UN Human Rights Council on
There were 20 stakeholder submissions. Click on Summary of Stakeholders Information footnote 3 for the letters of submission. There are Stakeholder letters from Franciscans International, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization and the World Council of Churches.
Universal Periodic Review recommendations by UN Human Rights Council for follow-up seldom refer directly to Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The Tandem Project NGO writes letters on human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief as a follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review. There are three proposals in this letter on structure, dialogue and education; and a call for ideas on how to reconcile human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief with the truth claims of religious and non-religious beliefs.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
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.
An archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, the country has an area of 700,000 million square miles and a population of 245 million.
According to the 2000 census report, 88.2 percent of the population described themselves as Muslim, 5.9 percent Protestant, 3.1 percent Roman Catholic, 1.8 percent Hindu, 0.8 percent Buddhist, and 0.2 percent "other," including traditional indigenous religions, other Christian groups, and Jewish. Some Christians, Hindus, and members of other minority religious groups argued that the census undercounted non-Muslims. The Government does not recognize atheism.
The Constitution provides for the freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Constitution accords "all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief " and states that "the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God." The first tenet of the country's national ideology, Pancasila, declares belief in one God. However, some restrictions exist on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. Government employees must swear allegiance to the nation and to the Pancasila ideology. The Government sometimes tolerated extremist groups that used violence and intimidation against religious groups, and often failed to punish perpetrators. The Government did not use its authority to review or revoke local laws that violated freedom of religion.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs extends official status to six faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and, as of January 2006, Confucianism. Atheism is not recognized. Religious organizations other than the six recognized religions can register with the Ministry for Culture and Tourism only as social organizations, restricting certain religious activities. Unregistered religious groups do not have the right to establish a house of worship and have administrative difficulties obtaining identity cards and registering marriages and births.
Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion. However, certain policies, laws, and official actions restricted religious freedom, and the Government sometimes tolerated discrimination against and abuse of individuals based on their religious belief by private actors. There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.
The Government requires all adult citizens to carry a National Identity Card (KTP) which, among other things, identifies the holder's religion. Members of religions not recognized by the Government are generally unable to obtain KTPs unless they incorrectly identify themselves as belonging to a recognized religion. During the reporting period, human rights groups continued to receive sporadic reports of local Civil Registry officials who rejected applications submitted by members of unrecognized or minority religions. Others accepted applications, but issued KTPs that inaccurately reflected the applicants' religion. Some animists received KTPs that listed their religion as Islam. Many Sikhs registered as Hindu on their KTPs and marriage certificates because the Government did not officially recognize their religion. Some citizens without a KTP had difficulty finding work. Several nongovernmental organizations and religious advocacy groups continued to urge the Government to delete the religion category from KTPs.
The civil registration system restricts the religious freedom of persons who do not belong to the six recognized faiths; animists, Baha'is, and members of other small minority faiths found it difficult to register marriages or births, notwithstanding the June 2007 regulation pertaining to marriage and civil administration. In practice, couples prevented from registering their marriage or the birth of a child in accordance with their faiths converted to one of the recognized faiths or misrepresented themselves as belonging to one of the six. Those who chose not to register their marriages or births risked future difficulties: a child without a birth certificate cannot enroll in school and may not qualify for scholarships. Individuals without birth certificates do not qualify for government jobs.
During the reporting period, there were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice.
US State Department 2008 International Religious Freedom
During the reporting period, the Government continued to explicitly and implicitly restrict the religious freedom of groups associated with forms of Islam viewed as outside the mainstream.
tolerated discrimination and abuse toward the Ahmadiyya by remaining silent on
the 2007 MUI fatwa containing guidelines condemning Islamic groups such as the
Ahmadiyya who profess belief in a prophet after Muhammad, the 2005 MUI fatwa
that explicitly banned the Ahmadiyya, and local government bans. Varying
reports provided different numbers of mosques attacked or closed. However,
according to national Ahmadiyya spokespersons, during the reporting period, 21
Ahmadiyya mosques were forced to close around the country; 15 were closed in
Local sources reported 2 Ahmadiyya camps in
Source: US State
Department 2008 International 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.
THE TANDEM PROJECT OBJECTIVES
Goal: Eliminate all Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
Challenge: Reconcile international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief with the truth claims of religious and non-religious beliefs.
The Tandem Project UPR Objectives: (1) develop a model local-national-international integrated approach to Freedom of Religion or Belief, as a follow-up to the Indonesia Universal Periodic Review. (2) Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as a platform for dialogue on the core values within and among nations, all religions and other beliefs. (3) Adapt these human rights standards to 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 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 Indonesia Universal Periodic Review.
The Council for Religious
and Life Stance Communities represents all religious and humanist beliefs in
Council Website: click on
this link and scroll to the bottom of the page for The History of Interfaith
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 in tandem with the truth claims of religious and non-religious beliefs.
Genuine dialogue on freedom of religion or belief does not work with closed minds. It demands respectful and thoughtful responses, discussion of taboos and clarity by persons of diverse beliefs. Inclusive 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 were first defined in the 1960 seminal study on freedom of religion or belief by Arcot Krishnaswami.
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. Develop a model local-national-international integrated approach to freedom of religion or belief.
2. 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.
3. 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.