Separation of Religion or Belief and State




Fourth Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (2-13 February, 2009)




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The Universal Periodic Review of Nigeria was held from 2:30 –5:30 on Monday 9 February 2009 on the Live OHCHR Web cast. . Click on the links below to access reports for the Nigeria Universal Periodic Review: National Report; Compilation prepared by OHCHR; Summary prepared by OHCHR; Interactive Dialogue; Comments & Answers; Final Remarks. 


Live HRC Web Cast:


The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process launched by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 to review the human rights obligations and responsibilities of all UN Member States by 2011.  Click for an Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review, Process and News:


The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief


Human rights are individual rights and universal.  Organizations do not have the rights of persons. But they have responsibilities, limited rights and some receive government benefits such as exemption from taxation. The definition of organization for this Universal Periodic Review is based on Article 2 of the 1981 UN Declaration; No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons or person on the grounds of religion or other beliefs.


For UN Member States with ideological differences on defamation of religion and the right to change a religion or belief, it is important 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: Vote on Defamation of Religions


Excerpts: The Nigeria National Report documented preparation for their Universal Periodic Review this way: “A broad-based National Committee was tasked with the responsibility of compiling Nigeria’s Universal Periodic Review national report. The preparations for this vital assignment began in earnest when the Minister of Foreign Affairs inaugurated the Committee in Abuja on 16 September 2008. The Committee comprised Ministries, Government departments, agencies, Members of the National Assembly, National Human Rights Commission, civil society organizations, non-governmental organization, etc. To facilitate the process of gathering information and opinion across the country, the Committee engaged in a wide publicity in the print and electronic media. The national report was finalized during a retreat, in accordance with the guidelines of the Universal Periodic Review.”


Inter-Active Dialogue with UN Member States included the following recommendations: Turkey, Algeria and Chad welcomed the convening of a National Consultative Forum and suggested it become an annual event. France congratulated Nigeria on the creation of a National Inter-religious Council and Institute to promote inter-religious, inter-communal understanding. The Holy See referred to children stigmatized as “witches” or “wizards” and commended Nigeria for the recent law to end this practice – recommending Nigeria apply this law vigorously.


Nigeria has experienced outbreaks of inter-religious, inter-ethnic conflict in recent years the most recent a mid-January clash in the city of Jos that left more than 300 dead and thousands displaced according to the police. Nigeria has been placed on a terrorist watch list by the U.S. since a failed attack in Detroit on a U.S. plane. Nigerians describe it “as unfair as Nigeria’s sects mainly target their own” according to an Economist article.


The Tandem Project will ask for exchange information with the government of Nigeria on how respectful dialogue can be held among Nigeria religions or beliefs with ideological differences on defamation of religion and the right to change a religion or belief. Nigeria is a Member State of the OIC.


The Tandem Project recognizes the challenges facing Nigeria to harmonize the views of a large multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious state; and supports a National Inter-religious Council and Institute to promote inter-religious, inter-communal understanding at local levels.


Attachments: Nigeria – Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Deadly Nigeria Clashes Subside; Vote on Defamation of Religions.