THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
Separation of Religion or Belief and State
Sixth Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (30 Nov. – 11 Dec. 2009)
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UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
The Ethiopia Universal Periodic Review will be held by the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday 9 December 2009 from 14.30-17.30. Open this link to access reports for the Ethiopia Universal Periodic Review: National Report; Compilation prepared by OHCHR; Summary prepared by OHCHR; Interactive Dialogue; Comments & Answers; Final Remarks.
Inter-active Dialogue: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=091209
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 primary international human rights instruments on freedom of religion or belief are:
Article 18 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
General Comment 22 on 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: http://www.tandemproject.com/program/81_dec.htm.
Human rights are individual rights and universal. Organizations do not have the rights of a person. 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 Conclusions and Recommendations of the Working Group Report for the Ethiopia Universal Periodic Review include 98 recommendations that enjoy the support of the government of Ethiopia, 12 recommendations that are being studied by the government of Ethiopia and 32 recommendations that do not have the support of the government of Ethiopia. UN Member States called for Ethiopia to invite Special Procedures experts, especially the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, to visit Ethiopia and do a report on their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Tandem Project Follow-up recommends Ethiopia continue a dialogue on defamation of religions and the right to freedom of opinion and expression through Forums on Religious Tolerance and Ethnic-sectarian Violence mentioned in the U.S. State Department Report:
“According to the U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report Ethiopia has made some improvements and Positive Developments in Respect for Religious Freedom: “On February 16-17 and April 23-24, 2009, the Ministry of Federal Affairs held forums in each regional state, which included representatives from local government, security bureaus, and police commissioners, to build interreligious understanding and resolve sectarian conflicts. In July 2008 the government-supported NGO Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative established a National Inter-Faith Peace Council to promote a culture of peace, improve interfaith cooperation, establish trust and good relationships among religious groups, and help prevent future conflict.”
The Tandem Project Follow-up Recommendations encourage Ethiopia to create a curriculum on human rights and freedom of religion or belief using Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Such a curriculum should be framed in the context of the Ethiopia National Report for the Universal Periodic Review:
“Civics and Ethical Education, which incorporate the ideals of human rights, democracy and constitutionalism, has started to be taught at the primary, secondary and tertiary level throughout the nation whether in public or private, secular or religious schools. In our law schools and judicial training centers, various courses are given on human rights issues. Human rights courses are incorporated in the military and police training schools curriculum.”
Excerpt from Report on Freedom of Opinion and Expression: The UN Human Rights Council by a vote of 23 for, 11 against and 13 abstaining passed a UN Resolution on Combating Defamation of Religion (A/HRC/10/L.2/Rev.1) on 26 March, 2009.
Mr. Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, Pakistan Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, spoke at a Parallel meeting in the tenth session of the UN Human Rights Council. The Parallel meeting was sponsored by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty: “10 years of Defamation of Religions: Is there an alternative?” Mr. Siddiqui speaking on behalf the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) expressed this tension: “We are dealing with two worlds that have totally different world views.”