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UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW: SWEDEN


The First Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

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.

There is increased dialogue worldwide today between religions and other beliefs to embrace diversity, but few persons, less than one percent of any population, ever participate. This is a challenge. The value of such dialogues is proportionate to the level of participation. For civil society increased participation would create opportunities for education on inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief.  

In 1968 the United Nations deferred passage of a legally-binding convention on religious intolerance saying it was too complicated and sensitive. Instead, they adopted a non-binding declaration on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief. While very worthwhile, the declaration does not carry the force and commitment of a legally-binding international human rights convention on freedom of religion or belief.

Religions and other beliefs historically have been used to justify wars and settle disputes. This is more dangerous today as the possible misuse of nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction increases. Governments need to revisit whether religions and other beliefs trump human rights or human rights trump religions and other beliefs in the face of this historical truth.



THE TANDEM PROJECT

UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
 FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

SWEDEN

Eighth Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (May 3-14, 2010)

The Tandem Project introduces the Sweden Universal Periodic Review in advance of U.N. Human Rights Council review this week. The OHCHR live Webcast of the Sweden UPR is on Friday 7 May and the adoption of the report on 11 May. The National Report introduction (click to open below) states Sweden’s protection of human rights is anchored by three constitutional laws on freedom of the press, equal worth and dignity of the private person and absolute prohibition against capital punishment and torture. The Freedom of the Press Action relates to an address on Freedom of Opinion and Expression by H.E. Mr. Frank Belfrage, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs (attachment) in the Geneva report by Asma Jahangir to the UN Human Rights Council in March, 2010. The National Report cites an Ombudsman on Discrimination unit (DO) with the power to issue judgments and fines on discrimination. Advanced Questions by Switzerland include whether Sweden has a public schools program on Human Rights Education, and by Norway, a question on when Sweden will adapt the two U.N. International Covenants in Swedish Law.


UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

The Sweden Universal Periodic Review will be held by the UN Human Rights Council on Friday 7 May from 14:30-17:30.  Open this link to access reports for the Sweden Universal Periodic Review: National Report; Compilation prepared by OHCHR; Summary prepared by OHCHR; Interactive Dialogue; Comments & Answers; Final Remarks. 

Reports: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/SESession8.aspx

The National Report, Compilation prepared by OHCHR and Stakeholder summary and letters, and advance questions by UN Member States are available now by opening this link.

HRC Web Cast: Friday, 7 May, 2010
Archives: Friday, 7 May, 2010
http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/

The live Web Cast of Sweden’s Reports and Inter-active Dialogue with the UN Human Rights Council can be viewed and listened to from 14:30-17:30 on Friday, 7 May by opening this link for the 8th session of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, and clicking on the calendar date. The adoption of the Working Group report on Sweden will be on Tuesday 11 May from 17:30-18:00. It is always possible to go back to the Archives on these dates to see and listen for the reports.

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 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 of 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 Conclusions and Recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council and other UN Member States at the Sweden Universal Periodic Review will be available in the Outcome Working Group Report after 14 May, 2010.

The Tandem Project Follow-up recommendations will be posted after reviewing the Conclusions and Recommendations of the Working Group for the Sweden UPR.

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION

Government and non-governmental organizations with expertise on Sweden will be asked for advice on issues of concern relating to international human rights and freedom of religion or belief after the Turkey Universal Periodic Review.

Summary and Stakeholder Letters: Submitted for Sweden Universal Periodic Review:
http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G10/108/07/PDF/G1010807.pdf?OpenElement
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRSEStakeholdersInfoS8.aspx

These are the links to the Summary of Stakeholder letters by OHCHR, in the six languages of the United Nations, and the link to the letters themselves, mostly in English. The Tandem Project will develop a PROPOSAL after 14 May, 2010 for an Exchange of Information with selected Stakeholders and other NGO’s inside and outside of Sweden that have an interest in a follow-up to freedom of religion or belief in the Swedish Universal Periodic Review. 

HREA- World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day is on 3 May, 2010. The Tandem Project proposes an Exchange of Information with these links on press freedom and religion or belief, as a follow-up to the Sweden Universal Periodic Review.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

U.S. State Department 2009 International Religious Freedom Report; SWEDEN
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127339.htm

Attachments: Sweden – Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief (the full U.S. State Department 2009 International Religious Freedom Report; Sweden is included in this attachment); Geneva – Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to the 13th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (readers should scroll in this attachment and view the address by the Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs on Freedom of Opinion and Expression: