THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Proselytism & Conversion
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Issue: Proselytism & Conversion- Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Review: Background Statement: The Right to Try to Convince the Other: Missionary Activities and Human Rights, http://www.oslocoalition.org/mhr_background_eng.php
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. UPR Introduction and News:
Member State’s have four years between Universal Periodic Review cycles to follow-up National Reports on human rights obligations and responsibilities; recommendations by UN Member States, NGOs, civil society and other stakeholders.
The United States Universal Periodic Review will be held in the ninth Universal Periodic Review session in December 2010.
Universal Periodic Review National Reports seldom has enough information to assess progress on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights –Everyone has the right to freedom of religion or belief, and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
General Comment 22, Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4) is a guide to understanding human rights treaty law on freedom of religion or belief. Available by clicking on this link:
The Tandem Project welcomes ideas on how to assess the progress of Universal Periodic Reviews on human rights standards and freedom of religion or belief; firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE TANDEM PROJECT FOLLOW-UP
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. 1. (2) Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as a rule of law for inclusive and genuine dialogue on core values within and among nations, all religions and other beliefs, and for protection against discrimination. (3) Use the standards on freedom of religion or belief in education curricula and places of worship, “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.” 2.
Disclaimer: Information on government and non-governmental websites is for public distribution unless copyrighted. Recommendations are the opinions of The Tandem Project and not endorsed by governments and non-governmental organizations to which they are made.
Recommendations come after a UPR has been held by governments, NGOs and others that have submitted public stakeholder letters. Recommendations for the USA-UPR are to governments and non-governmental organizations in preparation before the USA-UPR. The USA Example in The Tandem Project Follow-up applies to all UN Member States.
Becket Fund: http://www.becketfund.org/. International Religious Freedom Fund News on religious liberty: http://becketinternational.wordpress.com/about-the-irfn/
Google: Proselytism; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proselytism
“Proselytizing is the act of attempting to convert people to another opinion and, particularly, another religion or belief. Historically in the New Testament, the word proselyte denoted a person who had converted to Judaism. Though the word proselytism originally referred to Christianity, it is also used to refer to other religions’ attempts to convert people to their beliefs or even any attempt to convert people to another point of view, religious or not. Today, the connotations of proselytizing are often negative and it is commonly used to describe attempts to force people to convert. It is perceived as rude, intrusive and even a violation of one’s civil rights.” In Wikipedia terms can be challenged, it has been described pejoratively this way in the opening paragraph.
Google: Evangelism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelism
Evangelism is the practice of attempting to convert people willingly to a religion. In Christianity it is referred to as the good news of Jesus Christ as savior and an obligation from Jesus to his disciples, to “Go therefore, and teach all nations.” The term is used most often in reference to Christianity and Islam, since those two religions mandate that their followers make efforts to recruit as many people as possible into their faith. However, the term may be used for the practice of attempting to convert people to any religion, even if that religion does not specifically require that its followers engage in evangelism.
Google: Religious Conversion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_conversion
The state has an
obligation to ensure the right to change a religion or belief – through
conversion or other means. Terms in relation to conversion include: marital,
secondary, deathbed and forced conversion, coercion and apostasy. Forced
conversion is reported in the Annual U.S. State Department International
Religious Freedom Report, as an example, the recent anti-conversion laws being
Proselytism & conversion without coercion is an issue for international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief and should be part of every Universal Periodic Review.
The State Department Office of International Religious Freedom mission is to promote religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. Foreign Policy. Headed by Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, it’s Office Director and staff monitor religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom. In October 1998, President Clinton signed into law (PL 106-55) the International Religious Freedom Act, passed unanimously by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The law mandates an Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom. The Tandem Project uses the State Department Annual Reports as sources of information for Universal Periodic Reviews & Freedom of Religion or Belief.
National Prayer Breakfast: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Prayer_Breakfast
The National Prayer
Breakfast is a yearly event held in
Background Statement: The Right to Try to Convince the Other: Missionary Activities and Human Rights, http://www.oslocoalition.org/mhr_background_eng.php
The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief an international network of representatives from religious and other life-stance communities, NGOs, international organizations and research institutes. The Oslo Coalition works to advance freedom of religion or belief as a common benefit that is accepted and embraced by all religions and persuasions. Drawing on and promoting the internationally accepted human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief, the Coalition works to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between communities of different persuasions and to hinder injustice, intolerance and distrust springing from religious differences.
World Council of Churches; http://www.oikoumene.org/
The World Council of
Churches (WCC) based in
National Council of Churches
The National Council of
Churches USA is affiliated with the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism
of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The National Councils of Churches USA
is an umbrella organization of 23 national churches in the
The Minnesota Council of
Churches is a community of communions who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
As a statewide ecumenical agency formed in 1948, it has brought together
mainline Protestant denominations in
Muslim American Society of
The Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN) is a charitable, religious, social, cultural, educational, and non-profit organization. It is a pioneering Islamic organization, an Islamic revival and reform movement that uplifts the individual, the family, and the society. In 2003 MAS-MN was incorporated as an affiliate of the Muslim American Society (MAS). The objectives of MAS-MN are: to present the message of Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims and promote understanding between them; to encourage the participation of Muslims in building a virtuous and moral society; to offer viable Islamic alternative to many of our society’s prevailing problems; to promote family values in accordance with Islamic teachings; to promote human values that Islam come to emphasize, brotherhood, equality, justice, mercy, compassion and peace; to foster unity among Muslims and Muslim organizations and encourage coordination and cooperation.
Excerpt From: The Right to Try to Convince the Other: Missionary Activities and Human Rights
5.1. The right to engage in faith persuasion as a part of the right to manifest one's religion or belief
“The right to engage in faith persuasion is not explicitly mentioned in art. 18. However, this will normally be a part of the “manifestation” of a belief in paragraph 1 of the article – as “teaching” or as “practice”, the latter covering all thinkable forms of manifestations that are not explicitly mentioned in the article. In some religions, the believers are urged by the religious doctrines to try to spread the faith. And for all beliefs, as long as the believer is strongly convinced, he or she will have a natural wish to try to convince others of the “truth” - if the “truth” is decisive for an afterlife as well, this wish may be strong. Even if not being an integral part of a religion's or belief's dogmas, such kind of faith persuasion is covered by the phrase “manifestation”.
This is an example of “Falling within the ambit of art. 18 (1), the state may not interfere in proselytism activities without this being legitimate after para. 3 of the article (the “negative obligation”), cf. para. 6, furthermore, the state has a “positive obligation”, to “ensure” the right:  the state is obliged to give its citizens protection against clear violations from other citizens who do not respect this right. Thus, the state may be obliged to protect an adherent of a minority belief, trying to convince a member of the majority religion, against harassment from the majority.”
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: United Nations History – Freedom of Religion or Belief
The 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 is a guide to international human rights law for peaceful cooperation, respectful competition and resolution of conflicts:
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; email@example.com.
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 is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations