THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
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Issue: Corruption - can the UN Human Rights Council do anything about it?
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Corruption in all States violates the human rights of people. Can the UN Human Rights Council do anything about it? The eleventh session of the UN Human Rights Council just concluded. Conference Room Papers 1 (A/HRC/11/CRP.1) asks what the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, replacement for the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, intends to do to combat worldwide corruption. (Link to: report and questionnaire from Ms. Christy Mbonu, Special Rapporteur on corruption and its impact on the full enjoyment of human rights.
Excerpts from: The Economist, They Came to Bury Him Not to Praise Him.
“Of the $130 million in
his personal accounts at Citibank in
“Oil rigs and gas flares
punctuate the horizon: his oil, 3.2 billion barrels in proven reserves.
Eastwards, the silver carriages of the world’s most expensive railway rattle
five times a week through his hardwood forests, between
“Outside the glamour of
Libreville, where the M’bolo hypermarche offered
shining shelves of fine wines and best French cheese, a third of his people
traveled on back-breaking roads between villages without clinics, subsisting on
cassava and fishing. But Mr. Bongo brought decades of tranquility, a rare
enough commodity in
“So on June 11 hundreds of Gabonese lined up, clutching his portrait, outside the presidential palace where, in a flower-filled chapel, he lay in state, rather small in his coffin, in the country that was his.”
“Yet with various members of the Bongo clan maneuvering for power, it remains to be seen if the French can resist meddling altogether.”
Excerpt from: Article 18 of the CCPR and the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
1981 DECLARATION: 2. 2 For the purposes of the present Declaration, the expression ‘intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief’ means any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on religion or belief and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.
Excerpts from: Associated Press;
“A woman cried out as the casket
of Gabonese President Omar Bongo passed on Tuesday. African heads of state and
“It annoys me to no end when I see the Gabonese lining up to cry in front of his coffin, said Gregory Ngbwa Mintsa, one of Bongo’s few critics, who was jailed after signing a lawsuit by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International attempting to recover Gabon’s stolen riches.”
“About 400 families spend their days digging with bare hands through the valley of trash, skirting piles of medical waste from a nearby hospital. They are looking for empty bottles to sell-and food to eat.”
“When longtime dictator Omar
Bongo died earlier this month, he left behind at least 66 bank accounts. The
first family owned 45 homes in
Excerpts from: The Economist: They Came to Bury Him, Not to Praise Him.
“A funeral in
“Another episode last year hinted at business as usual. Jean-Marie Bockel, his [Sarkozy] overseas-aid minister, was moved to another job. His error? A bold speech, arguing for the need “to sign the death warrant for francafrique and denouncing patronage and wasted public money.”
“Mr. Bongo made no distinction
It was natural that $2.6 million
in aid money should be used to decorate his private jet, and that government
funds should pay for the Italian marble cladding his palace, and that his wife
Edith’s sea-blue Maybach, in which she was driven round
“In France, to which he went as often as he could, he had his choice of 39 properties, four of them on the Avenue Foch in Paris, in which to hobnob with the cream of the Elysee. Swanning round as he did, paying for everything with crisp wads of notes, he naturally funneled money to French politicians, right or left, who caught his eye.”
“Of the $130 million I his personal accounts at Citibank in New York, it was probable-though Citibank never asked, and nobody ever managed to pin a charge on him-that much of it was derived from the GDP of his country.”
“One test of
Excerpts from: UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (A/HRC/11/CRP.1): Ms. Christy Mbonu, Special Rapporteur on corruption and its impact on the full enjoyment of human rights.
“The Special Rapporteur being guided by the very useful contributions made by the Expert members of the Sub-Commission and other interested parties on the reports submitted especially the progress report during which she was requested to prepare draft Guidelines and Principles on Corruption as a way forward, decided to address a questionnaire to member States of the United Nations, NGOs, Community-Based Organizations dealing with issues of corruption. The replies to the questionnaire will form the basis for the final report.”
“However, due to the uncertainty
accompanying the transition from UN Commission on Human Rights to the Human
Rights Council, and pending the decisions of the Council on extending the
mandate of the Sub-Commission it was not distributed. Subject to the decision
of the Human Rights Council on the mandates of the Sub-Commission, the Special
Rapporteur appeals to
ISSUE & REVIEW: FOLLOW-UP
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.”
Genuine dialogue on human rights and freedom of religion or belief calls for respectful discourse, discussion of taboos and clarity by persons of diverse beliefs. Inclusive dialogue includes people of theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The warning signs are clear, unless there is genuine dialogue ranging from religious fundamentalism to secular dogmatism; conflicts in the future will probably be even more deadly.
In 1968 the UN deferred work on an International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance because of its complexity and sensitivity. In forty years violence, suffering and discrimination based on religion or belief has dramatically increased. It is time for a UN Working Group to draft what they deferred in 1968, a comprehensive core international human rights treaty-a United Nations Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief. See History.
The challenge to religions or beliefs at all levels is awareness, understanding and acceptance of international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief. Leaders, teachers and followers of all religions or beliefs, with governments, are keys to test the viability of inclusive and genuine dialogue in response to the UN Secretary General’s urgent call for constructive and committed dialogue.
The Tandem Project title, Separation of Religion or Belief and State (SOROBAS), reflects the far-reaching scope of UN General Comment 22 on Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4). The General Comment on Article 18 interprets this international rule of law as a guide for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts. See below: General Comment 22 on Article 18, CCPR.
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.
We welcome ideas on how this can be accomplished; firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE TANDEM PROJECT PROPOSALS
Proposals for constructive, long-term solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief:
(1) Develop a model
local-national-international integrated approach to human rights and freedom of
religion or belief, appropriate to the cultures of each country, as follow-up to the Universal Periodic Review. See
GENERAL COMMENT ON ARTICLE 18:
2: Note: By
The Tandem Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) 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 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: email@example.com.
The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations