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Norway presented it outcome report with addendum before the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday 17 March 2010.  Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen, Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN Office in Geneva, thanked the Council for constructive suggestions after the Inter-active Dialogue and reported that Norway could accept 66 recommendations, 5 in part and could not agree to 18 recommendations. Open the link below to the read the Outcome report and Inter-active Dialogue with UN Member States, NGO’s and Civil Society. The Tandem will seek an Exchange of Information with Norwegian Stakeholders.


THE TANDEM PROJECT
http://www.tandemproject.com.
info@tandemproject.com

UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

Separation of Religion or Belief & State

NORWAY

Sixth Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (30 Nov. – 11 Dec. 2009)

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The Norway Universal Periodic Review was held by the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday 2 December 2009 from 9.00-12.00.  Open this link to access reports for the Norway Universal Periodic Review: National Report; Compilation prepared by OHCHR; Summary prepared by OHCHR; Interactive Dialogue; Comments & Answers; Final Remarks. 

HRC Web Cast: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/NOSession6.aspx
http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=091202

HRC Consideration of Outcome: Norway 17 March 2010:
http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=100317

The Adoption of Outcome was approved. Norway agreed to 66 recommendations, 5 in part and 18 they could not agree to. The addendum (A/HRC/13/5/Add.1) is not available on the Internet.

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:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BasicFacts.aspx

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:
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/9a30112c27d1167cc12563ed004d8f15?Opendocument

The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief: http://www.tandemproject.com/program/81_dec.htm.

THE TANDEM PROJECT FOLLOW-UP

The Tandem Project Follow-up builds on twenty-seven Community Strategies, action proposals by organizations in 1986 to implement Article 18 of the CCPR and the 1981 UN Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief: http://www.tandemproject.com/tolerance.pdf

These Community Strategies are consolidated for The Tandem Project Follow-up into three generic proposals on integration, dialogue and education for Universal Periodic Reviews and exchange of information worldwide with organizations on international, national and local levels. 

1. Develop model integrated approaches to International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief at national and local levels to test the reality of implementation as appropriate to the constitutions, legal systems and cultures of each country.

2. Use International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief as appropriate to each culture and venue for inclusive and genuine dialogue on freedom of religion or belief.   

3. Apply International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief in education curricula as appropriate in all grade levels, teaching children, from the very beginning, that their own religion is one out of many and 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.  

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Tandem Project will not make follow-up recommendations until after the final adoption of the Norway UPR in March 2010. Recommendations will focus, among other issues, on these statements made in the Norwegian National Report and the Norwegian Center for Human Rights.

Excerpt from National Report: 3.15 Freedom of thought, religion and belief. “Norway has a constitutional state church system that has been the subject of criticism as a matter of principle from several quarters, including the UN Human Rights Committee. Article 2 of the Constitution protects certain aspects of freedom of religion or belief, but does not go as far as the protection provided by international human rights principles.” “A White Paper has been discussed in Parliament, and formal proposals to amend all seven articles in the Constitution establishing the state church system has been submitted. The proposals will be voted on in the next parliamentary session.” “In connection with continuous focus on dialogue, cooperation between religious and life stance communities, the authorities and the general population, grants are provided for three councils for religion and belief: the Council of Religious and Life Stance Communities, the Islamic Council of Norway and the Christian Council of Norway.” “Religious and belief communities outside the Church of Norway have a statutory right to claim an annual financial grant from the State and municipal authorities. This grant scheme is unique internationally.” 

Norwegian Center for Human Rights: - The Government has purposed a new formulation of the Constitution § 2 articulating basic values. It mentions humanity and Christianity specifically, with no reference to other religions or beliefs. This may not be in conflict with any human rights conventions; it might however exclude groups of the population. The same problem arises in the statements of objectives in the law on both schools and kindergartens. NCHR finds the principle of inclusion to be highly relevant in this debate. NCHR recommends that Norwegian authorities reconsider whether there is a need for explicitly highlighting the Christian belief in the constitutional values and in the statement of objectives in the laws on schools and kindergartens.

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION

The Tandem Project Follow-up will seek an exchange of information on approaches to freedom of religion or belief,to bridge human rights proclaimed in treaties at the international level with the reality of implementation in Norway at a national and local level.

Attachments: Norway – Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; UPR – 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Forum; Race & Religion Common Threads of Peace