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Now is the Time

 

 

 

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
UPDATE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Full Universal Periodic Review Attached.

            

 

Click to open calendar for Interactive Dialogue with Member States and the U.S. delegation on 5 November and 9 November 2010. 55 countries spoke for two minutes each offering recommendations and asking questions of the delegation. http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=029

Draft Report of the Working Group: http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session9/US/A_HRC_WG.6_9_L.9_USA.pdf

Recommendations included: Ratifying treaties, CEDAW, Convention on Rights of the Child, Rights of Persons with Disabilities; eliminate death penalty, establish a National Human Rights Institute under the Paris Principles, and issue a Standing Invitation for Special Procedures to visit and write reports.

Mr. Harold Hongju Koh legal advisor to the U.S. Justice Department gave the closing remarks for the U.S. delegation before adoption of the United States Universal Periodic Review. Mr. Koh spoke on ten areas in his concluding remarks: Political, Treaties, Criminal Justice, Combating Discrimination, Immigration, Indigenous Issues, Freedom of Expression and Religion, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Domestic Implementation. He praised Civil Society in the United States and the Town Hall meetings in Geneva and Washington D.C. as unique to the UPR process.

The Tandem Project uses the U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report for follow-up on all Member State Universal Periodic Reviews. U.S. State Department reports usually are published  in the September-October time period beginning July 1 and ending 30 June each year although in 2003 it was not published until December 18th.  The 2010 report has not been published yet. It is possible they are waiting until after the United States of America Universal Periodic Review has been adopted which may mean it will be published sometime in the very near future.

A recommendation for a more inclusive  title for the U.S. State Department international religious freedom report and U.N. Commission on international religious freedom was not made. The U.S. report did not  invite the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit and update the 1998 Amor report. A reference was made on 9 November by Harold Hongju Koh to freedom of expression and religion (ignoring the office UN title freedom of religion or belief) and mentioning only Muslims without reference to any other religions or beliefs. Titles are tell tale signs of the cultural direction of a county.

The United States has a history of bias in favor of religion even as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all religions and non-religious beliefs from discrimination. Government representatives repeatedly use the title religion and not religion or belief. The title is not impartial and neutral, it favors religion by failing to add the full U.N. term. Dialogue on freedom of religion or belief must be brought into the twenty-first century and the meaning of the word faith and interfaith dialogue needs to be better understood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith

Islam must be treated equally with all religions or beliefs for inclusive and genuine dialogue in an age of conflicting truth claims and worldviews. This is an inviolable principle of democracy and Separation of Religion or Belief and State. The U.S. needs to reflect on this as the U.N. begins its 3rd session of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Complimentary Standards starting November 22, 2010 in Geneva.

It will be important to the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/index.htm  to monitor the following three inter-related mandates:

Mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm

Mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/rapporteur/index.htm

Monitoring the Ad-Hoc Committee on Complimentary Standards
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/AdHocCommittee.htm

Since 1986 The Tandem Project has built awareness and support for Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief simultaneously from top down and ground up. In 1986 it was  the U.N. Human Rights Commission, now its successor the U.N. Human Rights Council.  The Tandem Project approach from the very beginning has been through Human Rights Education (HRE) from the top down and the ground or local level up

As a follow-up in the four year cycle before another United States Universal Periodic Review, one of the principle Tandem Project programs on human rights and freedom of religion or belief will be Forums on: Places of Worship, Academic Discourse, Schools, Women and Civil Society. Invitations are being sent to select local areas of the United States and other countries to exchange information and ideas on how to implement the Universal Periodic Review process at a local level.


TANDEM PROJECT RECOMMENDATION

The United States of America National Report for the Universal Periodic Review on 5 November 2010 should request the U.S. Congress to amend the title of the U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, to Annual Report on International Freedom of Religion or Belief. The United States should honor its human rights treaty responsibilities and obligations to 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 by incorporating international human rights law at national and local levels. The United States should invite the new U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit the United States to update the first report in 1998 by Abdelfattah Amor, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


The Tandem Project a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance, and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference material 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 the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

Documents Attached: Human Rights Treaty - Political Non-Starter in America; Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards - 13th Session UN Human Rights Council; The Wrong Way to Combat 'Islamophobia'; United States - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief