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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 & State
KENYA
Eighth Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (6 May, 2010)
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


Only contributions submitted in one of the United Nations official languages are admissible and posted on this webpage
Date of consideration: Thursday 6 May 2010, 9:00 - 12:00 am

National report 1 :

 AC | E | FR | S

            

 Compilation of UN information 2 :

 AC | EFR | S

 

Summary of stakeholders' information 3 :

 AC | EFR | S

Questions submitted in advance :

 E

Questions submitted in advance - Addendum 1 :

 E

Questions submitted in advance - Addendum 2 :

 E

Questions submitted in advance - Addendum 3 :

 E

  

Outcome of the review   :

 

Report of the Working group   :

 ACE | FR | S

Related webcast archives

Flag of Kenya 

 


CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Conclusions and Recommendations include the Working Group Report for the Kenya Universal Periodic Review.  Several delegations complimented Kenya on their National Policy Action Plan for Human Rights and contemplated implementation of the First Medium Term Plan 2008-2012 for Vision 2030.  Recommendations were made to implement the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Elections Violence, the “Waki Commission” to reform Police violence.  Several questions were asked about the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement of February 2008.

The Constitution of Kenya Review Act of 2008 and the Kadhis’ Courts in the Stakeholder Letter (below) refer to issues of human rights and freedom of religion or belief.  

Report of the Working Group:
http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G10/144/88/PDF/G1014488.pdf?OpenElement

Stakeholder Letter: Institute on Religion and Public Policy
http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session8/KE/IRPP_UPR_KEN_S08_2010_InstituteonReligionandPublicPolicy.pdf

Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Kenya
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/KEIndex.aspx

Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Somalia
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SOIndex.aspx


THE TANDEM PROJECT RECOMMENDATION

The Tandem Project Recommendations are generic hypothetical invitations to Forums for Places of Worship, Academic Discourse, Schools, Women and Civil Society.  Model invitations address issues specific to a local area as an NGO follow-up to a Universal Periodic Review. They are hypothetical invitations to build global awareness of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief at local levels and follow-up Universal Periodic Reviews. Organizations and individuals in model invitations have not been approached or asked for an endorsement. They named for substance to a hypothetical example. In the future they may be asked to assess interest, exchange information and explore ideas for follow-up projects to a Universal Periodic Review. 

This Tandem Project Recommendation is to the University of Nairobi suggesting a Forum for Academic Discourse on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief, as a follow-up to the Kenya Universal Periodic Review. The proposed Forum Program is titled: Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief for Study, Research and Engagement from Multidisciplinary Perspectives at the University of Nairobi. 

The University of Nairobi Academic Faculty, Government and Civil Society Panels, would address and discuss issues such as (1) Constitution of Kenya Review Act of 2008, (2) Kadhis’ Courts, (3) Somalia’s Wars and Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, (3) Vision 2030 First Medium Term Plan 2008-2012, (4) World Programme for Human Rights Education Plan Second Phase 2010-2012, (5) Obligations and Responsibilities of Kenya Places of Worship, (6) Indigenous Rights and Witchcraft, (7) Legal Limits and the Kenya National Constitution. Model invitations (attachment) include Nairobi Academic Faculty, Government Delegation to the Kenya Universal Periodic Review, Kenya Places of Worship,  Schools, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nairobi Mayor’s office, Kenya Non-governmental Organizations.

The University of Nairobi model recommends it be held in collaboration with the University of Minnesota in the United States and the University of Oslo in Norway. As a disclaimer these two universities have not been approached and do not endorse this hypothetical example.

The University of Minnesota is located in Minneapolis that has a Somali population of 70,000, the largest in the United States.  The attached article, Call to Jihad- Answered in America  is about an incident at the University of Minnesota that points to the possibility the University of Minnesota might consider a collaborative Forum on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief with the University of Nairobi.  The University of Minnesota and Augsburg College, an institution of higher learning across the street from the University of Minnesota, is in a neighborhood with a large Somali population.  The University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and Augsburg College  affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are in cooperation with local Somali groups and imams,  and the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights through the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights Foundation and Program located in Minneapolis.   

The Norwegian Government recommendation for the Kenya Universal Periodic Review is as follows, “Engage in a participatory and inclusive process with Civil Society in the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations.” Collaboration between the University of Nairobi and the University of Oslo and Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights may be a way of partnering to implement the Norwegian Government recommendation.  The University of Oslo Law School includes the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights under the Paris Principles.  The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights is a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) based  in Oslo with extensive foreign policy experience.  The President and founder of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights is a former Prime Minister of Norway and a Lutheran Minister in the Church of Norway.

The Somalia Universal Periodic Review will be held in the 11th Session by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday May 5, 2011. 


INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

The principal instruments for International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief is Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) and the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

1981 U.N. Declaration: http://www.tandemproject.com/program/81_dec.htm.

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

Article 18: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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.


The Third Rail

International human rights law on freedom of religion or belief protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief, - General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations does not favor one religion or belief over another. This law protects individuals from discrimination based on religion or belief. It values the equal rights of majority and minority religions or beliefs, indigenous, traditional and new religious movements. It is a universal, neutral and impartial moral principle. Lexicographers may describe the terminology as agnostic, the third rail on the God idea between theism and atheism.


FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, Kenya

Links to State Department sites are welcomed. Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the State Department’s main website is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. Citation of the U.S. State Department as source of the information is appreciated.
International Religious Freedom Report 2010

November 17, 2010

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period; however, some Muslim leaders continued to charge that the government is hostile toward Muslims.

While there were few reports of societal abuse or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, some Muslims perceived themselves as treated as second-class citizens in the predominantly Christian country. Christian leaders also complained of perceived discrimination in the historically Muslim areas of Coast and North Eastern Province.
The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 225,000 square miles and a population of 39 million. Approximately 80 percent of the population is Christian and 10 percent is Muslim. Groups that constitute less than 1 percent of the population include Hindus, Sikhs, and Baha'is. The remainder follows various indigenous religions. Protestants are 58 percent of Christians, with 42 percent Roman Catholics.

North Eastern Province, where the population is predominantly ethnic Somali, is home to 15 percent of the Muslim population. Sixty percent of the Muslim population lives in eastern Coast Province, making up 50 percent of the population there. Western areas of Coast Province are mostly Christian. The upper part of Eastern Province is home to 10 percent of the country's Muslims, mostly ethnic Borana but also some Somalis, where they are the majority religious group. Apart from a small ethnic Somali Muslim population in Nairobi, the rest of the country is largely Christian.

Upper Eastern, North Eastern, and Coast provinces, which together are home to approximately 75 percent of the Muslim population, were less developed than other parts of the country.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom
Legal Policy/Framework

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion.
The constitution and the 1967 Kadhis' Courts Act establish a venue for the adjudication of certain types of civil cases based on Islamic law. The constitution provides for Kadhi courts in situations where "all the parties profess the Muslim religion" in suits addressing "questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce, or inheritance." However, the secular high court has jurisdiction over civil or criminal proceedings, including those in the Kadhi courts; any decision can be directly appealed to the high court. In May 2010 the constitutional court ruled that the inclusion of Kadhi courts in the constitution and the use of state funds in support of the Kadhi court system, is illegal. The attorney general immediately appealed the ruling, and the case continued at the end of the reporting period.

Some Christian groups argued that the constitution's inclusion of the federally funded Kadhi courts gave preferential treatment to Muslims. The National Council of Churches Kenya filed a 2004 lawsuit contesting the legality of the Kadhi courts, which was upheld by the constitutional court in a May 2010 ruling. The ruling was immediately appealed; the case continued at the end of the reporting period.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid al-Fitr, Christmas, and Diwali. Although Eid al-Adha was observed as a national holiday before the 2007 election, the government subsequently did not take the necessary steps to make the holiday permanent.

The Ministry of Information and Communications routinely approved regional radio and television broadcast licenses for Christian and Muslim groups. The ministry has not granted the petition of the Catholic Church for a national frequency; however, the ministry has not granted a national frequency to any media organization except the government owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

The government required new religious organizations to register with the Registrar of Societies, which reported to the Office of the Attorney General. The government allowed indigenous religious organizations to register, although many chose not to do so. After registration, religious organizations may apply for tax exempt status, including exemption from paying duty on imported goods. Religious organizations generally received equal treatment from the government; however, some small splinter groups found it difficult to register when the government viewed them as an offshoot of a larger religious organization. The government outlawed and refused to register the Mungiki sect as a quasireligious criminal organization.

Practicing witchcraft with intent to cause fear, annoyance, or injury in mind, person, or property is a criminal offense under colonial era laws; however, persons generally were prosecuted for this offense only in conjunction with some other charge, such as murder, or to preempt vigilante action against them.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period.
Some Muslim leaders charged that the government was hostile toward Muslims. According to Muslim leaders, authorities rigorously scrutinized the identification cards of persons with Muslim surnames, particularly ethnic Somalis, and sometimes required additional documentation of citizenship, such as birth certificates of parents and even grandparents. The government stated that the heightened scrutiny was an attempt to deter illegal immigration rather than to discriminate against ethnic Somalis or their religion; however, there were reports that the government arbitrarily arrested Muslim men as terrorist suspects. For example, in September 2009 the Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) alleged that five Muslims suspected by the government of involvement in terrorist activity were abducted by the Anti-Terrorist Police Unit and subsequently disappeared; however, the MHRF provided no further proof of the alleged abductions.

Muslim leaders also accused the government of using the pretense of fighting terrorism to arrest and deport Muslim scholars to curtail Muslim proselytizing. In January 2010 the government deported Sheikh Abdullah al Faisal, a Jamaican-born Muslim cleric, for preaching sermons advocating violence.

In July 2009 President Kibaki received a report prepared by the Presidential Action Committee to Address Specific Concerns of the Muslim Community in Regard to Alleged Harassment and/or Discrimination in the Application/Enforcement of the Law. The report supported the claims of discrimination in the issuance of identity documents and passports to Muslims and found that counterterror operations violated existing national laws. The report also found that Muslims were unlawfully deported to foreign countries, Muslim communities did not have fair access for obtaining land title deeds, and that the Kadhi courts were inadequately funded.

Abuses of Religious Freedom

In January 2010 demonstrations by Muslims protesting the detention of Sheikh Abdullah al Faisal turned violent when protesters clashed with onlookers and street merchants. Police fired upon the protesters, killing two, while one police officer was shot and wounded by protesters. The government charged Al-Amin Kimathi, chairman of the MHRF, with incitement to violence for his role in organizing the protests.

The government continued to restrict the religious activities of Mungiki. In March 2009 unidentified gunmen, reportedly acting on orders from the commissioner of police, shot and killed Oscar Kamau King'ara, the executive director of the local nongovernmental organization (NGO) Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic Kenya (OFFLACK), and Paul Oulu, OFFLACK's program coordinator. On the day of the killings, government spokesman Alfred Mutua accused OFFLACK of being a front for Mungiki, the country's largest criminal organization, and criticized OFFLACK's role in providing information on extrajudicial killings of Mungiki members to the UN special rapporteur. In 2008 OFFLACK reported that police were linked with the continued disappearance and deaths of suspected Mungiki members. Police threatened and intimidated witnesses to the killings, and four witnesses went into exile. The prime minister requested international assistance to investigate the killings, but the minister for foreign affairs subsequently rejected such assistance, and no credible investigation had been conducted at the end of the reporting period.

Local Christian organizations reported that individuals who converted to Christianity from Islam, particularly individuals of Somali ethnic origin, were often threatened with violence or death by Muslim religious leaders and their families. These threats prompted some individuals to go into hiding.

Muslim human rights activists continued to call for the disbandment of the Anti-Terrorism Prevention Unit, alleging that it was engaging in a systematic campaign of harassment that specifically targeted Muslims, including extortion of businessmen and theft during raids.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country, although the government detained youth suspected of being members of the Mungiki sect. These individuals were detained for suspected criminal activity and not religious belief.

Forced Religious Conversion
There were no reports of forced religious conversion.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were few reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Intermarriage between members of Christian denominations is common, and interfaith prayer services occurred frequently. Intermarriage between Muslims and Christians, although less frequent, was also socially acceptable; however, some spouses were asked to convert to Islam as a precondition for the marriage. Some Muslims perceived themselves to be treated as second-class citizens in a predominantly Christian country and believed that the government and business communities deliberately impeded development in predominantly Muslim areas.
There were multiple reports from Kisii District and in Nyanza and Western provinces of abuse and killings of persons suspected of practicing "witchcraft." (Witchcraft in this context refers to a range of traditional practices that may have a religious component.) Local authorities sometimes responded by making arrests after killings of suspected witches or by placing those suspected of witchcraft in protective custody to prevent lynching. Government officials routinely denounced vigilantism against suspected witches but also claimed to initiate crackdowns against those practicing traditional medicine. Victims of these crimes were often elderly; perpetrators were often youth and were sometimes related to the victims. Many of these incidents, which perpetrators claimed were aimed at suppressing the practice of witchcraft, appeared to have been efforts to pursue other agendas, such as obtaining access to property owned by the victims or settling family disputes.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. government discusses religious freedom with the government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.


BACKGROUND

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Whereas 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.

– First Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx


INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

The principal instruments for International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief is Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) and the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

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.

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

Article 18: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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, whn applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education in conformity with their own convictions.


The Third Rail

International human rights law on freedom of religion or belief protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief, - General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations does not favor one religion or belief over another. This law protects individuals from discrimination based on religion or belief. It values the equal rights of majority and minority religions or beliefs, indigenous, traditional and new religious movements. It is a universal, neutral and impartial moral principle. Lexicographers may describe the terminology as agnostic, the third rail on the God idea between theism and atheism.


MANDATE OF THE U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

Monitoring the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/index.htm

Open the link above to get the complete history, actions and reports of the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.  The mandate is up for review and renewal every three year by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The most recent cycle is the mandate from 2007-2010.  A new Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief was appointed in June, 2010, Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt of Germany.  The Tandem Project focus under Special Procedures is solely on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

The U.N. Human Rights Council every three years draft a resolution for the mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief who serves as an independent expert on human rights and freedom of religion or belief through a process known as Special Procedures.

In 2007 the right to change one’s religion or belief was resisted by Pakistan on behalf of the 57 country Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as a requirement they could not subscribe to. In 2010 Pakistan and the OIC withdrew the objection when the U.N. Human Rights Council dropped 9 (a) from the mandate on freedom of religion or belief without a vote. 

2007 Mandate on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/6/37)
In 2007 the U.N.Human Rights Council mandate for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/6/37) failed to achieve consensus because of objections by Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) over the right to change one’s religion or belief:

9. Urges States:

  • (a) To ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provide adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief to all without distinction, inter alia, by the provision of effective remedies in cases where the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, or the right to practice freely one’s religion, including the right to change one’s religion or belief, is violated;

Pakistan speaking on behalf of 57 countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)  objected by saying, “It called  for respect for norms about the right to change one’s religion.  The EU draft explicitly urges States to guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief,  a requirement the OIC could not subscribe to.”
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 is inviolable and could not be compromised.  The Resolution (A/HRC/RES/6/37) with recorded votes can be viewed by clicking on this link:
http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/resolutions/A_HRC_RES_6_37.pdf

2010 Mandate on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/14/11)

In 2010 at the 14th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council Pakistan and the OIC dropped their objections to the resolution.  The resolution was adopted without a vote for the three year mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (A/HRC/RES/14/11). Paragraph 9 (a) the point of tension and abstentions in 2007 was deleted and an amendment withdrawn by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and several other countries to achieve consensus.

The United States,  in the U.N. Human Rights Council, referred to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on “freedom of religion.” U.S. international reports should use the U.N. title, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Spain introducing the resolution on behalf of the EU called for consensus for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Pakistan in reference to negative stereotyping of religion, called for consensus on the mandate on freedom of religion or belief.   

Does (A/HRC/RES/14/11) still urge states to guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief as it did in the 2007 resolution or does it accommodate cultural norms not to change one’s religion? 

Paragraph 9 (a)  in the opinion of the EU still applies to the discharge of duties in 2010 for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief . Whether the OIC agrees after abstaining in 2007 based on cultural norms is a key issue and needs clarity for 9 (a) to be fully implemented. 
UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief


IMPLEMENTING 9 (a)

If the mandate in 2010 includes a call to implement 9 (a) it will be a significant step forward  to resolve the question of universality vs. cultural relativity, for norms that guarantee the right to change one’s religion or belief.  As a principle of universal democracy the right to leave a religion is  inviolable for all religions or beliefs, all governments, all members of the human family.  

The global challenge is to build widespread awareness and acceptance of this right as international law through dialogue with governments and non-governmental organizations, civil society, schools and places of worship, including leaders of the Ummah in Islamic schools and mosques. 


MANDATES RELATING TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

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

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


TREATIES & DECLARATIONS

International Human Rights Treaties: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/treaty/index.htm

The intent in 1960 was to draft two core legally binding human rights treaties on religion and race. “ The decision to separate the instruments on religious intolerance from those on racial discrimination constituted a compromise solution designed to satisfy a number of conflicting viewpoints. Western states insisted on addressing both matters in a joint instrument. Communist states were not anxious to deal with religious matters. African and Asian states considered the question of religious intolerance a minor matter compared with racial discrimination.  In contrast to the religious intolerance matter, international instruments on the elimination of racial discrimination were adopted fairly swiftly, in 1963 and 1965 respectively.

At the General Assembly’s twenty-second session, the Third Committee had an opening general debate and a line-by-line review of the text of the draft convention. The convention’s most fierce critics were the Soviet Union, other communist states, and several African and Asian States. Since the draft Convention’s definition of “religion or belief’ included theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs; there was strong opposition from Islamic states, the Catholic church, and other religious groups. At its twenty-third session, the General Assembly decided to defer consideration of the draft convention.” (History section).

In 1968 the UN deferred work on a legally-binding treaty on religious intolerance as too complex and sensitive and passed a non-binding declaration in its place. The Tandem Project believes until a core legally-binding Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief is adopted international human rights law will be incomplete, and a lasting foundation for the universality of human rights is not possible. 

Tandem Project Database: http://www.tandemproject.com/databases/forms/card.htm

Tandem Project Internet Course: http://www.tandemproject.com/toc/toc.htm

The Questionnaire is a checklist for inclusive and genuine dialogue on human rights and freedom of religion or belief and conflicting truth claims, for places of worship, government and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, schools and civil society, in preparation for Tandem Forums. 

OPEN QUESTIONNAIRE


HISTORY & STATISTICS

  • 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 

1984: The Tandem Project co-founder 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: Since 1986 The Tandem Project has built support for Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief simultaneously from top down and ground up. In 1986 top down was  the U.N. Human Rights Commission, now its successor the U.N. Human Rights Council.  The Tandem Project approach from the ground or local level up for national Universal Periodic Reviews & Freedom of Religion or Belief includes; Forums for Places of Worship, Academic Discourse, Schools, Women and Civil Society.


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 use of nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction increases. Governments need to consider whether religions and other beliefs trump human rights or human rights trump religions and other beliefs or neither trumps the other. Can international human rights law help to stop the advance and use of such weapons in the face of this historic truth?

  • QUESTION: Weapons of mass destruction as history teaches are legitimized for national security and justified by cultural, ethnic and religious or other ideology. The U.N. Review Conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and studies on biological and cyber weapons demonstrate advances in science and technology is being used to increase their potential for mass destruction. The question is whether an International Convention on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief, elevated and supported equally by the U.N. Human Rights Council and U.N. Security Council, would help offset the risk of weapons of mass destruction. Recognition of the need for synergy to balance rights and security is the foundation for solving this issue.

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” - Robert Oppenheimer, quote from the Bhagavad Gita after exploding the first atomic bomb, Trinity 1945.
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: Kenya - University of Nairobi Academic Forum on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Somalia's Wars Swell and Agitate a Refugee Camp in Kenya; Somalia - A Call to Jihad Answered in America; Somalia & Minneapolis - Foreign Ways & War Scars Test Hospital