Separation of Religion or Belief and State




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Issue: Haiti- History, Independence and the Haiti Universal Periodic Review


For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society


Review: To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature, Mark Danner, New York Times: 22 January 2010.


The New York Times article, To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature, is on the unique history of Haiti and the founding of an independent nation by African slaves. Donor nations met in Montreal this week to provide emergency assistance and to assess a schedule for discussing long term development aide. Most of the Haitian government offices were destroyed in the earthquake and the president of Haiti reportedly will live in a tent on the grounds of the presidential palace.


Excerpt: “Whether they can read or not, Haiti’s people walk in history, and live in politics. They are independent, proud, and fiercely aware of their own singularity. What distinguishes then is a tradition of heroism and a conviction that they are and will remain something distinct, apart- something you can hear in the Creole spoken in the countryside, of the voodoo practiced there, traces of the Africa that the first generation of revolutionaries brought with them on the middle passage.”


The Tandem Project was working on recommendations in preparation for the Haiti Universal Periodic Review scheduled for 11 May 2010 at the time of the earthquake. Because of the tragic events this schedule may be problematic as the country struggles to recover from the devastation. The Presidential Palace and many government offices and staff were killed or are missing; including the collapse of the UN Mission building and the death of the head of mission and many UN staff.  If the Haiti Universal Periodic Review is not possible in May, then it should be re-scheduled for another time during the 2008-2011 first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.


Long term development in Haiti must begin with the government of Haiti and empowerment of the Haitian people building a government infrastructure structure free of corruption, with balanced technical help and free of control from the family of nations. Respect for the rule of law, human rights and freedom of religion or belief can be a cornerstone core component of a long term reconstruction and development plan organized and initiated by Haitians themselves, including tolerance for diversity of religion or belief and the distinctive Haitian-African  religious-spiritual-ethnic heritage.


For UN Member States with core ideological differences on defamation of religion and the right to change a religion or belief it is essential to continue the dialogue to “overcome the gaps in perceptions, concepts and ideas” and achieve consensus between deeply-held religious beliefs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Attachment).


1981 UN Declaration


4. 1 All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.


Attachments: To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature; Haiti – Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Vote on Defamation of Religion.