Home Page
Introduction
Internet Course
Issue Statements
UPR Reviews & Follow-up
WUNRN-Womens's UN Report Network
SOROBAS – Separation of Religion
or Belief and State
1986 - Tolerance for Diversity of Religion or Belief
2012 - The Tandem Project Fellowship
Now is the Time

 

 
 

Prefatory Note: In 1986 The Tandem Project hosted the first International Conference on the 1981 UN Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief. http://www.tandemproject.com/tolerance.pdf.  In 2010 The Tandem Project is looking for ideas and programs to implement the Declaration, as a Follow-up to the Netherlands Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief, at national and local levels. One indicator of success in a Universal Periodic Review is how close the country comes to an inclusive and genuine rights-based approach to freedom of religion or belief, in their follow-up four year cycle.

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

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

Separation of Religion or Belief and State

EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION

ORGANIZATIONS & INDIVIDUALS IN THE NETHERLANDS 

The Tandem Project seeks an exchange of information and ideas with eminent organizations and individuals as a follow-up to the Netherlands Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief. This includes ideas and programs on awareness, understanding and use of International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
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. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BasicFacts.aspx

  • PROPOSAL exchange with: Netherlands Permanent Mission to the U.N. in Geneva, Amnesty International, Tom Hamburger, Ambassador at Large for Human Rights, Netherlands Foreign Ministry, Protestant Church in the Netherlands, Anne Frank Foundation, Theo van Boven, Islamic School Boards Organization, Equal Opportunity Committee of the Netherlands, Piet de Klerk, Deputy Ambassador, Netherlands Permanent Mission to the U.N. in New York, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands Center for Information and Documentation (CIDI), Islamic School Boards Organization, University of Humanistics, Government of Turkey Religious Affairs Directorate, Diyanet for business in The Netherlands, Moroccan Government for relations with Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands, Dalmar Foundation, Macalester College St. Paul, Minnesota, Leiden University, Ahmed Samatar, Islamic School Boards Organization Netherlands, Article 1 National Association Against Discrimination, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands, Joop de Jong, Hindu and Buddhist Organizations in the Netherlands, Michael D. Monahan, Hayaan Media, (list will be expanded). 

Separate e-mail invitations to exchange ideas.  Organizations and individuals on this list will be sent an invitation for their ideas on this and other issues, and a request to fill out a Questionnaire on inclusive and genuine approaches to human rights and freedom of religion or belief.

  • OBJECTIVE: Apply International Human Rights Standards on Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Netherlands through Integration, Dialogue and Education; teaching children from the very beginning, that their own   religion or belief 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.

International Human Rights Law 

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice and freedom either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.

Freedom of manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education in conformity with their own convictions.

Excerpts:

Netherlands – Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief

Responsibility for developing and implementing policies against discrimination and racism in the Netherlands has largely been delegated by the national government to local authorities. Research carried out by Amnesty International indicates that fewer than 10 per cent of municipal authorities have addressed discrimination and racism at a local level by adopting general policies or action plans. Fewer than 20 per cent of municipal authorities have developed policies to combat discrimination and racism in specific areas of concern, such as law enforcement, employment or education.

The principle of non-discrimination is at the heart of the protection of human rights. Amnesty International’s research indicates a failure on the part of municipal authorities in the Netherlands to act with due diligence to prevent and combat all forms of discrimination. The national government in the Netherlands does not systematically monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies which are aimed, at a national and local level, at protecting people from all forms of discrimination.

Amnesty International considers that the government of the Netherlands is therefore failing to ensure implementation of relevant international human rights standards in relation to the prevention of discrimination and calls on the government of the Netherlands to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate policies to combat all forms of discrimination, at both the national and the local levels. - Amnesty International

Chaotic Race to Form Dutch Coalition After Narrow Poll

Conflicting ideologies may be characteristic of Dutch coalition politics - but even the left-wing newspaper, De Volkskrant, says this will be a "nail-biting time" - with coalition talks likely to take several weeks, if not months.

Human Rights Education & Freedom of Religion or Belief

The United Nations Human Rights Council held a high level discussion on a draft Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training at the 13th session, Tuesday 2 March 2010. This is a continuation of work for human rights education which began with the UN Decade for Human Rights Education 1995-2004. The history and current programs and news on Human Rights Education and Training, and a Database on Human Rights Education and Training by the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The OHCHR database on Human Rights Education and Training key word search under “Religion” lists 36 entries and “Belief” lists 8 entries. There are 726 entries relating to all human rights subjects. The Tandem Project proposes curricula on International Human Rights Law and Freedom of Religion or Belief to these human rights education (HRE) databases.

2010 - Consensus on Mandate on Freedom of Religion or Belief

The United Nations Human Rights Council reached consensus the last day of the 14th session June 18, 2010 on extending the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief for three years.

Spain, introduced the resolution on behalf of the European Union (EU). Pakistan speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic States (OIC) dropped opposition amendment.  Egypt congratulated all the parties that worked on the compromise and called for continued dialogue as the best path to follow for this “core human rights” issue.
The consensus ended this three year impasse.

On 14 December 2007 the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 29 in favor, 0 against and 18 abstentions in the sixth session for a three year extension of the mandate on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (A/HRC/6/L.15/Rev.1). There are 47 members of the Human Rights Council. Those voting to abstain included: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa and Sri Lanka. 

The 18 country abstentions were based on the objections from Pakistan, spoken on behalf of the 57 country Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that norms in Muslim countries prohibit leaving Islam as a religion, and were not being honored in the draft resolution. Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU) said over 40 paragraphs in the draft resolution was eliminated in an attempt at consensus with the abstaining states, but consensus over the right to leave one’s religion or belief was inviolable and could not be compromised. 

The Resolution (A/HRC/RES/6/37) with recorded votes in 2007 can be viewed by clicking on this link:
http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/resolutions/A_HRC_RES_6_37.pdf

The right to leave a religion or belief may be resolved by the following resolution.


United Nations
General Assembly
A/HRC/RES/14/11

Distr.: General
23 June 2010

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council* 14/11

Freedom of religion or belief: mandate of the Special
Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

The Human Rights Council,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981, in which the Assembly proclaimed the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (resolution attached).


THE TANDEM PROJECT FOLLOW-UP

  • HISTORY: The United Nations failed to achieve consensus on a legally binding international treaty on religious intolerance, settling instead for the non-binding 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.

 

http://www.tandemproject.com/program/history.htm

  • STATISTICS: The United Nations protects all theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. Statistics: builds the case for an    inclusive and genuine approach to implementing human rights and freedom of religion or belief.

http://www.tandemproject.com/program/major_religions.htm

The Tandem Project focus on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief has a twenty-six year history beginning in 1984 up to the present in 2010.  

1984: a co-founder of The Tandem Project represented the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) at a two week Geneva Seminar called by the U.N.  Secretariat on how to implement the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. In 1986 The Tandem Project hosted the first International Conference on the 1981 U.N. Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

1986: Minnesota held the first International Conference on how to implement the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Thirty-five international delegates and forty-five  Minnesota delegates were invited. Minnesota organizations and individuals proposed twenty-seven Community Strategies on how to implement the 1981 U.N. Declaration under: Synopsis, Strategy, Objectives, Program Approach, Obstacles and Outcomes.

Minnesota Community Strategieshttp://www.tandemproject.com/tolerance.pdf

2010: this is a proposal to exchange ideas on how new strategies can be developed to use International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief.   The Tandem Project suggests three generic proposals on Integration, Dialogue and Education for an exchange of information worldwide with organizations and individuals.   

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.

“Our educational systems need to provide children with a broad orientation: from the very beginning, children should be taught that their own religion is one out of many and that 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.” 2006- Mr. Piet de Klerk:  Ambassador-at-Large of the Netherlands on Human Rights.

Reflections

The First Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: 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 an increase in dialogue 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 or neither trumps the other; whether culture trumps the universal or universal human rights sensitively and with respect trumps culture in the face of this historical truth.

  • QUESTION: Human nature seems intractable as weapons of mass destruction increase often with national-ethnic-religious justification. The recent U.N.  Review Conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and studies on the projected use of biological weapons demonstrate this concern. The question is whether present International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief is sufficient or if a core human rights treaty on freedom of religion or belief elevated to a higher level would help reduce the future risk of weapons of mass destruction. Synergy on this issue between the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Human Rights Council should be strengthened.

The Tandem Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance and respect for diversity, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

Attachments: Netherlands – Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Chaotic Race to Form Dutch Coalition After Narrow Poll; Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief; 2010 - Consensus on Mandate on Freedom of Religion or Belief.