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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 & State
ITALY
Seventh Session U.N. Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (8-19 February, 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
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW


Only contributions submitted in one of the United Nations official languages are admissible and posted on this webpage

Date of consideration: Tuesday 9 February 2010 - 10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.

           

National report 1 :

 AC | EFR | S

            

 Compilation of UN information 2 :

 A | C | E | F | R | S

      

Summary of stakeholders' information 3 :

 A | C | E | F | R | S

    

Questions submitted in advance:

 E 

Addendum: 

 E

Questions submitted in advance - Addendum 2:

 E

Outcome of the review   :

 

Report of the Working group   :

 ACEFR | S

  Addendum  :

 ACEFR | S

Related webcast archives

Flag of Italy 

Holy See (Non-Member State): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/VAIndex.aspx
The Holy See is a Non-Member State of the United Nations. Click above to open concluding observations by U.N. Treaty Bodies, and Country (Holy See) visits by Special Rapporteurs.


OVERVIEW

Issues to focus on as a follow-up to Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief:

National Report: Integration Policies; Dialogues with Religious Communities, Prime Minister’s Office established a Commission for Agreements with Religious Denominations; Advisory Committee for Religious Freedom, National Action Plan in 2006 for Durban World Conference, European Union EU 2000/43 Directives on Anti-Discrimination. Human Rights Education and Training: Phase I  introduced Human Rights Education in schools, training for Judges and Police. International Development and Cooperation: Paid special attention to Universal Periodic Review Process as member of U.N. Human Rights Committee, paragraphs 135 and 136 “Respect for Religious Freedom.”

Working Group Report: Summary; Fifty-one Delegates Statements (pages 3-13), statement 16 NGO program “Diversity is a Value,” statements 24 and 34 by Pakistan and Egypt on minority rights in Italy. Conclusions and Recommendations; Ninety-two recommendations (pages 13-21), to be considered by Italy with responses no later than the 14th session of the Human Rights Council; recommendation 3 to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, recommendation 12, 13 and 14 to establish a National Institute on Human Rights under the Paris Principles, recommendation 28 by Bangladesh on legal measures against racism, especially Muslims, recommendation 32 by Lebanon and Yemen to focus on inter-cultural, inter-religious dialogue, recommendation 50 on freedom of the press.

U.S. State Department: 2010 Religious Freedom Report, Italy: 1984 Revision of Concordat with Holy See; Intesa Grants for Catholic Church, access of other religions to hospitals, police, etc, approvals by Parliament, Intesa Grant for Muslims negotiation; Committee for Italian Islam; established by Interior Ministry;19 Muslims and Non-Muslim experts in working groups on imam training, burqa law, mixed marriages, resignation by Muslim member of Committee because only 2 of 8 working group rapporteurs are Muslims and only a few members are practicing Muslims recognized by their own community. Anti-Semitism; persisted in 21 cities and 40 anti-emetic websites; Northern League; members of Parliament seeks to restrict building permits for mosques, Genoa mosque, cultural centers and garage mosques; Crosses in Public Sites; objections by religious and non-religious beliefs; U.S. Government Policy; Visit to Italy by U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Countries, U.S. Embassy series of seminars on immigration and religious tolerance aimed at high school students.

National Report: http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session7/IT/A_HRC_WG6_7_ITA_1_E.pdf

Stakeholder Letters: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRITStakeholdersInfoS7.aspx

Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Italy http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ITIndex.aspx

Report of the Working Group: Instructions for opening Working Group Report:  Click to open OHCHR, Italy (above); click to open Universal Periodic Review (in upper-left); click to open Working Group Report; Conclusions and Recommendations on page 13. 


THE TANDEM PROJECT RECOMMENDATION

The Tandem Project Recommendation is to follow-up on issues identified in the National Report, Working Group Report and U.S. State Department Report by proposing local area Forums in Italy for Places of Worship, Academic Discourse, Schools, Women and Civil Society. The objective will be to build awareness in Italy of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief, assess interest, exchange information and explore ideas for a follow-up to the Italy Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief. 

National Report: NGO Forums invitations will suggest participating in the Dialogues with Religious Communities, exchange information on the Commission for Agreements with Religious Denominations, monitor the success and exchange information on Phase I and Phase II of the World Programme for Human Rights Education in Italy and explore new ideas for international development and cooperation with other local NGO Forums in other countries as a follow-up to their Universal Periodic Review.

Working Group Report: follow-up on U.N. delegates statements and recommendations 3, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 28 by Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh and Yemen on minority rights and call for inter-cultural, inter-religious dialogue, and recommendation 50 on freedom of the press to see if they are implemented over the four year cycle to implement the Italy Universal Periodic Review.

U.S. State Department Report;  The Tandem Project proposes Academic and Civil Society Forums to research the effectiveness of the 1984 Revision of the Concordat with the Holy See, Intesa Grants to ensure all religions have access to hospitals, prisons and other public facilities under provisions of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief,  and monitor the inclusiveness and effectiveness of the Committee for Italian Islam Working Groups to provide Imam Training, provisions of a Burqa Law, and Mixed Marriages in accordance with international human rights on freedom of religion or belief and the wishes of the Muslim community in Italy. 
A Genoa Forum for Places of Worship may be proposed with the Northern League Members to discuss building permits for mosques, the 2010 mandate of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

The U.S. Embassy may be approached to endorse a Forum for Schools on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief in Rome, as a follow-up to the National Report on Human Rights Education for all schools in Phase I of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, and the Embassy series of seminars on immigration and religious tolerance aimed at high school students.

Tandem Forum Example (Attached); Sapienza Universita de Roma - Forum for Academic Discourse on Human Rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief, a proposal for U.N Phase II for Higher Education, World Programme for Human Rights Education (2010-2014). Background Statement below is on Sapienza University. This is an invitation to build global awareness of international human rights law on freedom of religion or belief at local levels, as a follow-up to Universal Periodic Reviews. Organizations and individuals have not been approached or asked for an endorsement of this example. They may be contacted in the future to assess interest, exchange information and explore other ideas for follow-up projects on human rights and freedom of religion or belief. There are 58 State Universities, 17 non-state universities and 2 universities for foreigners in Italy.  


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, Italy

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. There is no state religion; however, due to its sovereign status and historical political authority, the Roman Catholic Church enjoys some privileges not available to other religious groups.
There were occasional reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, as well as episodes of anti-Semitism. Prominent religious and government officials continued to encourage mutual respect for religious differences.

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 116,347 square miles and a population of 60.4 million. An estimated 87 percent of native-born citizens were Roman Catholic in 2009; however, according to an independent research institute, in 2010 only 24 percent regularly participated in Catholic worship services. Less than 5 percent of the population consists of members of non-Catholic Christian groups, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Baha'is, and Buddhists. Significant Christian communities include Christian Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Assemblies of God, the Confederation of Methodist and Waldensian Churches, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and other small Protestant groups.

Immigration continued to add large groups of non-Christian residents, mainly Muslims, from North Africa, South Asia, Albania, and the Middle East. According to an independent research center, in 2008, 1.3 million immigrants were Christian Orthodox--coming mainly from Romania, Ukraine, and Russia--1.25 million were Muslim, 140,000 Protestant, and 100,000 Hindu or Buddhist.

There are reportedly more than 700 places of worship for Muslims, (often officially labeled "cultural centers" and unofficially called "garage" mosques), concentrated in the regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Lazio, Emilia Romagna, and Tuscany. The Jewish community is an estimated 30,000 and maintains synagogues in 21 cities.

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 government recognizes the Holy See as a sovereign authority. Under the 1984 revision of the concordat with the Catholic Church, the state is secular but maintained the practice of state support for religion, which can also be extended to non-Catholic confessions if requested. In such cases, state support is governed by legislation implementing the provisions of an intesa (accord) between the government and the religious group. An intesa grants clergy automatic access to state hospitals, prisons, and military barracks; allows for civil registry of religious marriages; facilitates special religious practices regarding funerals; and exempts students from school attendance on religious holidays. If a religious community so requests, an intesa may provide for state routing of funds, through a voluntary check-off on taxpayer returns, to that community. The absence of an intesa does not affect a religious group's ability to worship freely; however, the government did not always grant the intesa privileges automatically, and a religious community without an intesa did not benefit financially from the voluntary check-off on taxpayer returns.

The state paid Catholic religion teachers, but this financial support did not apply to other religious communities. If a student requested the assistance of a religion teacher of a non-Catholic religious group, that group can select a representative but must cover the cost.

Non-Catholic groups with an intesa include the Confederation of Methodist and Waldensian Churches, Adventists, Assemblies of God, Jews, Baptists, and Lutherans. In 2007 the government signed draft accords with the Buddhist Union, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Apostolic Church, Orthodox Church of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and Hindus, and at the same time amended previous intese with the Confederation of Methodist and Waldensian Churches and the Adventists. On May 13, 2010, the council of ministers approved the 2007 new and amended intese and submitted them to parliament for ratification. Parliament did not vote on these intese during the reporting period. Negotiations remained suspended with the Soka Gakkai, a Japanese Buddhist group, pending their reorganization. Divisions among Muslim organizations, as well as the lack of a single leader to represent them at the national level, hindered that community's efforts to seek an intesa.

The law provides all religious groups the right to be recognized as a legal entity and be granted fiscal exempt status. Insults against all divinities are considered blasphemy, a crime punishable by a fine. There were no reports regarding enforcement of this law during the period covered by the report.

Denial of the Holocaust is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Epiphany, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, All Saints' Day, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas.

The 2005 Antiterrorism Decree, which penalized those who attempted to hide their identity, may affect those who choose to wear face-concealing attire such as the niqab or burqa; there were no restrictions on wearing the hijab or headscarf in public. A seldom-cited 1931 law forbids individuals from hiding their identities, and a 1975 anti-terror law requires persons to show their faces in public for security reasons. On January 29, 2010, the city of Novara enacted a local ordinance to enforce the 1975 antiterror law, prohibiting individuals from covering their faces in public areas near government facilities.

ernment provided funds for the construction of places of worship, granted public land for their construction, and helped preserve and maintain historic places of worship that shelter much of the country's artistic and cultural heritage.

Missionaries or religious workers must apply for appropriate visas prior to arriving in the country.

The revised concordat of 1984 accords the Catholic Church certain privileges regarding instruction in public schools. For example, the government allowed the church to select Catholic teachers, paid by the state, to provide instruction in "hour of religion" courses taught in the public schools. Such courses were optional, and students who did not wish to attend were free to study other subjects or, in certain cases, to leave school early. While in the past this instruction involved Catholic priests teaching catechism, church-selected instructors may now be either lay or religious, and their instruction is intended to include material relevant to non-Catholic religious groups. Problems may arise in small communities where information about other religious groups and the number of non-Catholics was limited. The constitution prohibits state support for private schools; however, the law provides tax breaks for parents with dependents in private schools.

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; however, no Muslim group has been able to build a mosque in the past year.

There were occasional reports that government officials or the public objected to women wearing garments that completely covered the face and body.

On April 30, 2010, local police in Novara fined a Tunisian woman $642 (500 Euros) for wearing a face-covering niqab (usually referred to as a burqa in the country) near a post office. This episode marked the first time that the law--passed in January 2010 to enforce a 1975 antiterror law requiring persons to show their faces in public--was invoked. While the mayor of Novara identified security as the reason for the fine, other statements by local politicians suggested that the law was an attempt to legislate cultural norms.

In August 2009 a northern town banned "burkinis" from its public pool. The mayor claimed the full-body swimsuit could disturb small children. He added that such swimwear could be a potential violation of pool hygiene rules.

On December 23, 2009, the city of Genoa authorized the building of a mosque on a piece of land provided by local authorities. On January 23, 2010, the Northern League organized a referendum at the city level, and 99 percent of the 5,300 voters voted against allowing the new mosque. On April 27, 2010, the spokesman of the local Islamic community, Alfredo Maiolese, resigned after receiving threats from local citizens. Other than a debate among local architects about the design of the proposed mosque and the local imam's appeal for a decision to be made before the end of 2010, nothing substantive had transpired by the end of the reporting period, and debate was expected to resume in September 2010. City of Turin officials approved plans for a Muslim cultural center, which was expected to include a prayer room. The center had obtained building permits. Consistent with the city’s ban on the construction of any tower-like structures, the plans did not include a minaret. Milan, home to an estimated 100,000 Muslims, has several small "cultural centers" but does not have an official mosque. The attempts by the Islamic Center of Via Padova, an organization of several thousand Muslims that has tried for several years to build a mosque with a minaret in Milan, continued to be unsuccessful.

The continuing presence of Catholic symbols, such as crucifixes, in courtrooms, schools, and other public buildings continued to draw criticism and led to a number of lawsuits. The one with most visibility originated in 2002, when a mother argued that the presence of crucifixes in her children's public school classrooms ran counter to the principle of secularism, referred to a court of cassation judgment of 2000 which had found the presence of crucifixes in polling stations to be contrary to the principle of secularism of the state. The case continued through all levels of the justice system but lost because crucifixes were not only religious symbols but also symbols of the country's history, culture, and identity, and that they represented the democratic principles of equality, liberty, and tolerance. In February 2006 the country's highest administrative court dismissed the mother's appeal, arguing that in the country the crucifix represented the secular values of the constitution and of civic life. The mother took the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which on November 3, 2009, determined that the display of crucifixes in public schools violated the separation of church and state. The ruling condemned the country for violating freedom of religion and the right to education. On March 2, 2010, the ECHR agreed to hear the government's appeal, and on June 30, 2010, the ECHR Grand Chamber heard the government's case. The Grand Chamber had not announced its decision by the end of the reporting period.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion.

Improvements and Positive Developments in Respect for Religious Freedom

On February 10, 2010, Interior Minister Maroni established a Committee for Italian Islam made up of 19 Muslim and non-Muslim experts organized into four working groups on imam training, mosques, burqa law, and mixed marriages. They will submit recommendations to the government on new rules that might facilitate religious practices and integration. The committee received criticism for its mainly Italian, non-Muslim constitution. In April 2010 one member of the committee, a convert to Islam and member of the board of the mosque of Rome, resigned, stating that "only two out of eight working group rapporteurs are Muslims" and only a few of the members are "practicing Muslims recognized by their own communities."

National, regional, and local authorities organized annual educational initiatives and other events to support National Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. In 2010 ceremonies were hosted by the nation's president and the Chamber of Deputies president (who invited Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel to address the Chamber), as well as a ceremony presided over by the president of the senate in the former Italian concentration camp of San Saba. On the same day, the minister of foreign affairs participated in the first meeting of a special parliamentary inquiry committee on anti-Semitism. On October 29, 2009, the Constitutional Affairs and Foreign Affairs committees of the Chamber of Deputies established the temporary committee to explore current trends in anti-Semitism in the country and abroad and to propose legislative measures to counter such developments.

On April 24, 2010, the city of Ferrara announced that a new National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Holocaust was scheduled to be built by the end of 2011.

On October 24, 2009, the Church of Scientology initiated construction on one of its largest European centers in Rome.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were occasional reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, but prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom.

The country's approximately 30,000 Jews maintained synagogues in 21 cities. Anti-Semitic societal prejudices persisted, manifested largely by anti-Semitic graffiti in a number of cities. Small extremist fringe groups were responsible for anti-Semitic acts.

According to the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation, in 2010 there were more than 40 anti-Semitic Web sites and social networks.

On March 17, 2010, a 75-year-old rabbi of Moroccan origin was insulted on a bus in Milan by a group yelling, "Jews go away, we will kill you all." No one on the bus, including the driver, intervened to defend the man.

On March 28, 2010, commemorative stones in memory of a family that was deported to Auschwitz were vandalized in Rome. On January 28, 2010, anti-Semitic graffiti slogans containing threats against the president of the Rome Jewish community appeared in the center of Rome. Other anti-Semitic graffiti incidents occurred in various cities throughout the year, including in Rome and Milan.

On May 21, 2010, police searched the homes of four activists of the fascist group Militia that were organizing a summit with other radical associations to create a national network. They were suspected of hate crimes and vandalism, including anti-Semitic graffiti committed in Rome and other cities.

In the period prior to the March 2010 regional elections, some civil and political groups in the north--most consistently the Northern League party--employed harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric linking immigrants to crime, security issues, and job losses. While this rhetoric was broadly anti-immigrant, the strongest disapproval tended to be reserved for Muslim immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East (among the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the north). After the elections, anti-immigrant rhetoric was considerably more muted, and the Northern League's primary political focus shifted away from immigrant-related issues.

While there were no specific instances of anti-Muslim sentiment reported, some Muslims in the north said they perceived hostility toward their religion in their interactions with citizens and local government institutions. Muslims in many locations continued to encounter difficulties in getting permission to construct mosques. Although local officials usually cited other grounds for refusing building permits, some Muslims asserted that hostility toward their religion underlay the difficulties. The efforts of Northern League members of parliament to seek legislation to restrict building additional mosques furthered a hostile attitude toward Muslims.

The Italian Center for Peace in the Middle East, a nonprofit organization aimed at encouraging Arab, Israeli, and Palestinian dialogue, held a National Conference of Second-Generation Muslims in December 2009 in Turin. The conference focused on a variety of issues that concerned Muslim immigrant populations and their children in the country.

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.

Within the framework of its programming on immigration and diversity, the U.S. mission carried out a program of Muslim outreach, including cultural events and meetings with local Muslim communities. Many of these events brought together native-born citizens and Muslims, often immigrants, to build communication skills, enhance cross-cultural understanding, and promote religious and ethnic tolerance.

The embassy and consulates continued to reach out to the children of Muslim immigrants, including through student leadership programs and exchanges for community leaders such as the Voluntary Visitor and International Visitor Leadership Programs. The mission promoted moderate messages and religious tolerance through Muslim community-focused cultural events, such as the annual iftar (evening meal during Ramadan). A visit by the U.S. special representative to Muslim communities brought together concerned government officials with opinion leaders from immigrant communities to stress the need for interfaith tolerance and social policies that promote integration.

Beyond the Muslim-Italian community, the embassy hosted a series of seminars on immigration and interreligious tolerance targeted at high school students. The mission also maintained contact with other religious groups and monitored cases of discrimination.


BACKGROUND

Sapienza – Universita di Roma: http://www.uniroma1.it/about/default_e.php

Higher Education Institutions in Italy: http://www.study-in-italy.it/php5/study-italy.php?idorizz=2

Sapienza means wisdom or knowledge:

“Sapienza University of Rome was founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, it is the first University in Rome and the largest University in Europe: a city within a city, with over 700 years of history, 145,000 students, over 4,500 professors and  almost 5,000 people are administrative and technical staff.

Sapienza’s Governance is composed of an internal body: a Vice Rector and a group of Deputy Rectors, charged of specific activities, support the Rector in the management of the University, thanks also the cooperation of ad hoc committees.

Sapienza has a wide academic offer which includes over 300 degree programmes and 250 one or two year professional courses. Sapienza has 116 libraries and 21 museums as well as efficient student services such as Ciao (Information, welcoming and counseling centre), Sort (Counseling and tutorship services) and assistance for disabled students.
Concerning with students’ origin, over 30,000 of them come from all parts of Italy; over 7,000 people come from abroad. Incoming and outgoing Erasmus students are about 1,000 people per year. Sapienza is implementing ICT services for students, such as online enrolment, University e-mail address and wireless hotspots around Campus.

Sapienza plans and carries out important scientific investigations in almost all disciplines, achieving high-standard results both on a national and on an international level, thanks of the work of its 23 faculties, 112 departments and 30 centres devoted to scientific research. There are also more than 150 PhD programmes which include almost all major fields of knowledge.
The first University in Rome is proud to have had many famous scholars among his students, such as the poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, and to be considered an institution of capital importance in the field of archaeological excavations, having achieved significant results in Libya, Syria, Turkey and on the Palatin Hill in Rome. Dealing with the field of Physics ‘students, members of the so called ‘Via Panisperna’ group – including the scientists Enrico Fermi, Edoardo Amaldi and Emilio Segrè – gave a crucial contribute to Physics and left an important heritage in subjects like Quantum Physics, Physics of Disordered Systems and Astrophysics.

Sapienza enhances research by offering opportunities also to international human resources. Thanks to a special programme for visiting professors, many foreign researchers and professors periodically come to Sapienza, consolidating the quality of its education and research programmes.
Professor Luigi Frati has been the Rector of Sapienza University since November 2008. He has started a great innovation process which envisages full tax exemption as a prize for outstanding students, elimination of useless structures and reorganization of faculties.
Sapienza University of Rome is a public, autonomous and free university, involved in the development of society through research, higher level of education and international cooperation. “

- From Sapienza Universita de Roma website.


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


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.


Implementing 9 (a) must respect the sensitivity and complexity of this issue which was one of the causes of the 1968 impasse by the U.N. in drafting a legally-binding international treaty (see History).


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 original 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 next 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 may not be 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.

Document Attached: Italy - Sapienza Universita de Roma - Academic Discourse on Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief