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SOROBAS – Separation of Religion
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Now is the Time

 

 
 

QUESTIONNAIRE

THE TANDEM PROJECT
http://www.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

To: The Tandem Project International List Serve

REQUEST: please fill out questionnaire 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. Click for an Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review, Process and News: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

  • OBJECTIVE:Evaluate the effectiveness of international human rights law on freedom of religion   or belief at international, national and local levels to promote diversity, tolerance, cooperation,   respectful competition and prevent all forms of discrimination and conflicts based on religion or  belief.

The Questionnaire has indicators to measure how inclusive and genuine is awareness, understanding and use of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief.    

OPEN QUESTIONNAIRE

Thank you for taking a few minutes to reply. 

Michael M. Roan
Executive Director,
The Tandem Project
mroan@tandemproject.com.

International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief

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.

  • 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 FOLLOW-UP

1984: Co-founder of The Tandem Project represented the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) in 1984 at the two week Geneva Seminar called by the UN 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 thirty-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. These Community Strategies can be read on the following link:

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

2010: there are three generic proposals on Integration, Dialogue and Education that have been consolidated from the 1986 strategies on how to implement International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Think global act local.  

PROPOSALS

  • 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.
  • 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.   
  • 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 with national-ethnic-religious justification. The U.N.  Review Conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and studies on the use of biological and cyber weapons demonstrate this trend as a growing concern. The question is whether present International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief is enough or if a core human rights treaty on freedom of religion or belief, supported at a higher level, would reduce the risk of using weapons of mass destruction. Synergy meaning each is incapable of acting alone on this issue needs consideration by the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Human Rights Council.

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” - Robert Oppenheimer, quote from the Bhagavad Gita after exploding the first atomic bomb, Trinity 1945.

“Acts of evil often need a cloak of virtue to move forward” – Mahatma Gandhi.

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.

Disclaimer: The Tandem Project does not represent the institutions, organizations or individuals in a Forum Questionnaire and is not endorsed by them. Questionnaires are for an exchange of information and ideas as a follow-up to United Nations Universal Periodic Reviews.

Documents: United States - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; New York City - Forum for Places of Worship; Islam & Apostasy - Opportunity for Deeper Dialogue