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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

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL PANEL DISCUSSION AND
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON  A CULTURE OF TOLERANCE AND PEACE 

3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Resolution A/HRC/16/18 - Combating Intolerance, Stereotyping, Discrimination and
Incitement to Violence & Discrimination Against Persons Based on Religion or Belief

A-HRC-16-L.38 - Resolution Combating Intolerance, Stereotyping, Discrimination & Incitement to Violence Against Persons Based on Religion or Belief

Introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference  (OIC)  adopted by consensus without a vote.

Calls for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs, and decides to convene a panel discussion on this issue at its seventeenth session within existing resources.


Joint Submission by three Special Rapporteur’s at April Nairobi Experts Workshop

  •  “We very much appreciate that the Human Rights Council has – after years of debate – ultimately found a way to unanimously address these worrying phenomena without referring to concepts or notions that would undermine international human rights law. In this context we would like to emphasize the principle that individuals rather than religions per se are the rights-holders.”

- Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief;

- Mr. Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and

- Mr. Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

OHCHR Experts Workshop Nairobi April 2011


The Tandem Project 1986 International Conference on Tolerance for Diversity of Religion or Belief 
http://www.tandemproject.com/tolerance.pdf

The March 2011 Resolution A/HRC/16/18 and the June 2011 panel discussion asked for local examples and called for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for  human rights and diversity of religions or beliefs.  Twenty-five years ago The Tandem Project called for the same approach to Tolerance for Diversity of Religion or Belief at local levels through twenty-seven Community Strategies in the first International Conference on how to implement Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. These Community Strategies are as applicable in June 2011 as they were in October 1986 and are offered here as a follow-up to resolutions A/HRC/16/18 and the UN Human Rights Council Panel Discussion and Interactive Dialogue on a Culture of Tolerance and Peace. 

COMMUNITY STRATEGIES

1. Education--ways in which broadly-based programs of education can be developed at all levels in schools, government, universities, voluntary organizations, and the media; 2. Law--ways in which efforts can be supported to examine international legal structures; national constitutions, national and local legislation, to make sure there is a legal framework for the Declaration in each nation-state of the U.N; 3. Development--ways in which organizations of diverse ideologies may be able to work together on humanitarian service projects in the "name and spirit" of tolerance, with mutual understanding and respect for each other. 4. Analysis--ways in which special studies, research, and curricula can be developed in theological seminaries, universities, and colleges to combat and to eliminate intolerance based on religion or belief;


 GENEVA –  The Experts Panel for the June Discussion included: Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, Pakistan; Mr. Doudou Diene, Senegal; Mr. Mario Marazziti, Italy, Mr. Adil Akhmetov, Kazakhstan, Ms. Somona Santoro, Poland, Ms. Suzan Johnson Cook, United States of America.  The opening address was by Ms. Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva. H.E. Ambassador Mrs. Bente Angell Hansen, Norway, Vice Chair of the UN Human Rights Council,  a video from the director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and a message from the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Conference was read by Simane Chikh, H.E. Permanent Representative of the OIC to the UN Office in Geneva. Thirty-two UN Member States and Observers gave inter-active remarks to the Panel Discussion. Pakistan, sponsor of the Resolution in March 2011, United Kingdom, Turkey and the United States of America called the three hour presentation an important “first step” in implementation of this historic resolution.

Titles of the Panel of Experts and the Archived video and inter-active panel discussion:

http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=110614


HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL NEWS

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON
14 June 2011

Council holds panel discussion on strengthened efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace

BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, in her introductory remarks said that today’s panel on the promotion of the culture of tolerance would be focused on international efforts to foster global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs. This panel would provide the Council with an opportunity to focus on the implementation of practical actions to promote a culture of tolerance and peace and consider measures aimed at eradicating intolerance, discrimination and violence based on religion or belief, as well and enhancing social justice, understanding and respect in multi-cultural societies.

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 of 24 March 2011 aimed at “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief” was itself the result of constructive engagement and dialogue. It provided a good platform for a better understanding of the challenges faced and how the international community can surmount them. Over the past years, several resolutions adopted by the United Nations noted that intolerance, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Christianophobia was on the increase. These phobias fuelled suspicion and mistrust and had led to incidents of unequal treatment and violence against members of religious groups. Negative stereotyping in the media or by extremist political parties, advocacy or religious hatred, together with physical violence against religions also continued to be alarming trends across the globe.

The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001 as well as the Durban Review Conference, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination through its General Comment XXV had highlighted that multiple forms of discrimination may affect individuals and groups. For example, women all too often suffered from discrimination on the grounds of both gender and religion or belief. In some countries, laws continued to discriminate against women, such as legislation that prohibited or imposed the donning of the veil in public because of its religious symbolism. Migrants had similarly faced discrimination on the basis of their status as well as descent, national or ethnic origin. Around the world today there was an increase in anti-migrant sentiment and discriminatory practices affecting their human rights. Xenophobia was often triggered by intolerance against groups seen or feared as outsiders because of their origin or customs or faith. Another consideration was the role of public discourse in fostering xenophobia or in exacerbating xenophobic sentiment and behavior. The High Commissioner said she was concerned about the increasingly worrisome rhetoric of the popular media, some public officials and personalities in many parts of the world.
It was often purported that freedom of expression and freedom of religion were contradictory. This was a mistaken assumption. These freedoms were interdependent and mutually reinforcing. A balance should be sought between these rights and there should not be an underestimation of the difficulty of this balancing act. Recent incidents in various places around the globe, including desecrations and attacks on sacred sites and places of worship come to mind. States should be vigilant and respond immediately and appropriately to such acts. Ultimately it was the State which bore the primary obligation to protect victims of human rights violations and prevent occurrences of intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on their religion or belief. States should also act as catalysts for intercultural dialogue. In this regard, education was crucial in fostering respect for all human rights and religious diversity. By committing in practice – through laws, measures, words and deeds – to all human rights, States could promote religious harmony and facilitate the intercultural dialogue which would help to create peaceful and stable societies.

Statements by the Panelists

JORGE SAMPAIO, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, in a video statement, said that eleven years after the adoption of the Millennium Declaration, which clearly recognized that a culture of peace and dialogue among all civilizations should be actively promoted, it was time for bold action. Mr. Sampaio noted that what was at stake was for governments around the world to keep the promise of achieving commitments emanating from the Declaration. It was necessary to commit with peoples of every country and of every culture and faith, to speak out for the respect for their rights and their freedoms. The international community, nations of the world as well as international and regional organizations, in particular the United Nations system, shared a common responsibility for managing worldwide economic and social development as well as threats to international peace and security.

The UN High Representative further noted that the international community held collective responsibility to support fundamental values, to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity and to actively promote a culture of peace and dialogue among all civilization and cultures. Mr. Sampaio noted that a strong agenda focused on education, youth and new media was probably the best way to move forward as well as leadership by example. The UN High Representative further noted that within the preparations of the Fourth Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, which would take place in December, in Doha, the Organization had reflected whether a more targeted approach to a culture of tolerance, peace and dialogue”, inspired by the Millennium Development Goals methodology and setting clear targets and indicators to monitor progress, could be developed.

SLIMANE CHIKH, Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations Office at Geneva, on behalf of EKMELEDDIN INSANOGLU, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said it was during the address to the fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that a new approach towards evolving a consensus against incitement to violence and intolerance on religious grounds was outlined. It was based on a firm belief that such incitement could endanger peaceful coexistence and was antithetical to the very notion of a globalized world. The eight points for action at the national and international levels formed the basis of the consensus reflected in Human Rights Council resolution 16/18. It would be further useful to discuss practical strategies at the national and international levels to implement the alternative approach signified by resolution 16/18, as would the identification of ways to promote a culture of peace and tolerance based on respect for human rights and diversity of religion and belief. It was required to evolve a normative approach on a consensual basis at multilateral fora like the Council while addressing the concerns of all parties. This was of vital concern and transcendental priority at the Organization of the Islamic Conference. As mentioned in the resolution, steps to end double standards and racial, national and religious profiling needed to be taken. Such acts should not be condoned by States but duly addressed through structured and sustained engagement. The human rights framework provided a concrete basis for a result-oriented engagement in this regard and should be utilized accordingly.

AHMER BILAL SOOFI, Lawyer and Expert on international humanitarian law and human rights and President of the Research Society of International Law in Pakistan, said that preventive and remedial measures in instances of cases where derogatory stereotyping had taken place could be divided into pre-violence and post-violence stages. The legal treatment of both the phases was entirely different as the burden to restrain pre-violence might be on the offender, and post-violence on the aggrieved. The scale of advocacy of incitement would determine the scale of response. Invoking domestic response was appropriate if incitement was attributed to an individual or two. But if the scale was larger, some response at a global level might be required through an institutionalized framework. Taking the case study of Islam, the threshold to bear religious criticism was far higher than generally believed, Mr. Soofi said. Advocacy for inciting violence was mostly attributed to the sermon maker who could whip up sentiments through his public speaking skills and least researched opinion or fatwas. As a result of the alims withdrawing from the debate of tolerance for religious criticism, sermon givers had fully exploited the consequent gap in the jurisprudence of religious tolerance. It was therefore highly desirable for any global reputed body to have an institutionalized, inter-faith debate amongst genuine religious scholars. Another approach was to outsource this proposition to venues of legal experts like International Law Commission that could develop a more clear set of principles or draft framework that laid down parameters of interpretations after taking into account the domestic laws and international trends. Also, an exercise could be commissioned whereby an extensive study was carried out by legal experts to collect and assess the domestic laws that criminalized acts that were insulting to other religions, which would note common legal principles States agreed on in their state practice and also the areas of divergence. Work needed to be carried out for model draft legislation on criminalizing incitement to imminent violence. Places of worship and religious sites needed to be declared as special places under domestic legislation. In closing, Mr. Soofi said that there was a need to develop a secretariat framework for the updates or reports on efforts regarding the Human Rights Council’s resolution 16/18.

DOUDOU DIENE, Vice Chair of Institute Internationale de Recherche Politique et de Civilization and Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, suggested various means to ensure that Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 would be implemented as it was an historical landmark by bringing together different geographical groups. Intolerance was a serious issue because there were two mutually reinforcing dynamics occurring at the moment: the political institutionalization of intolerance and racism, which paid in electoral terms and required immediate address; and the intellectual and scientific legitimization of intolerance which promoted a clash of civilizations. Mr. Diene stressed four major points, first that it was important for the international community to grasp that combating intolerance required a shift from ideological proclamations to human rights. Second, that there should be an understanding that there was a shared ethics and moral sphere and values that all religions contained. Third, the Human Rights Council should document cases of intolerance and discrimination and this required an instrument that would allow acts of intolerance to be quantified, which Mr. Diene suggested be in the form on an Observatory located in the High Commissioner’s Office. Fourth, there should be a promotion of mutual knowledge of religious cultures. Finally, there should be a promotion of interaction to ensure that issues related to identity would not feed into intolerance along with a focus on a shared memory and development of the teaching of history. The struggle against intolerance should be organized and structured so that resolution 16/18 contained a clear roadmap for implementation.

MARIO MARAZZITI, Journalist and Spokesperson and Member of the International Board of the Community of Sant’Egidio, said his brief comments were based on the Community of Sant’Egidio’s experience in over 70 countries around the world. The Community of Sant’Egidio was born European. The great conquests of secularism were impressed in its memory, although this carried scars of intolerance, absolute hate, the Shoah, the extermination of the Roma people and the frightful Armenian destiny. The fear of living with others was so strong it became a killer. Europe had been put to a test by inequality, immigration, poverty, social crisis in some sectors, as well as new antagonisms which were really old antagonisms. The presence of minorities in several regional realities had helped reduce the level of distrust and of problematic co-existence and lessened extremist opposition. The immigrants today represented a huge excuse for European anxiety. They became a scapegoat for politics that had taken into consideration the anxieties and growing economic crisis and lack of jobs. This was where religion could play a major role. Religions were relevant phenomena in international politics, but especially in daily co-existence in the lives of individuals. Understanding religion had become a necessity. Mr. Marazzitti proposed that new joint media be created in crucial areas, where people from all religious and secular backgrounds could come together to represent others and create new languages for journalists, opinion-leaders and teachers. A long-term strategy to change language was necessary to heal the world and resolve conflict. Mr. Marazzitti proposed to create, in every nation, a multi-national movement of immigrants and other citizens to create a new society of mutual understanding.

ADIL AKHMETOV, Ambassador and Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that States could show their leadership in a number of areas, namely in policies free of discrimination. Islam was often misrepresented as a political ideology incompatible with the principles of democracy and human rights. The enforcement of counter-terrorism policies was the first policy area that deserved attention, and there was a need to warn those who might exploit the fear of those overwhelmed by multicultural societies. Mr. Akhmetov expressed his concern by discourse requesting migrants of Muslim background to abandon their religious and cultural identity to be part of society. Of concern were also legislative initiatives to restrict freedom of manifestation of religion in Europe, such as banning burquas in all public places. Because of their discriminatory character, such restrictions might constitute a violation of freedom of religion. To remedy the disturbing phenomena, Mr. Akhmetov encouraged States to develop educational tools to deal with discrimination phenomena and disseminate them. He reminded States of their responsibilities to maintain religious freedoms for everybody and said he was deeply disturbed by some initiatives to ban manifestations of only Islamic symbols in public life which was a violation of freedom of religion and led to further stigmatization of Muslim minorities. As pointed out in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Astana Declaration on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination, the manifestation of intolerance in public discourse should be firmly condemned, while respecting freedom of expression as recognized under international human rights standards. It should also be underlined that international tensions and conflicts could not justify any form of racism and xenophobia, including anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims.

SIMONA SANTORO, Adviser on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. The normative framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was based on political commitments agreed upon by consensus by participating States. Since 2003, a series of Ministerial Council decisions were adopted by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the topic of tolerance and non-discrimination which had three characteristics. Firstly, they approached intolerance both from the perspective of broad forms of intolerance, racism and xenophobia and specific forms of intolerance, such as anti-Semitism, intolerance against Muslims and intolerance against Christians and members of other religions. Secondly, they linked tolerance to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. Thirdly, they committed participating States to undertake a series of practical measures to fight intolerance, including violent forms of intolerance, in areas such as legislation, law enforcement, education, data collection, monitoring of hate crimes, media, constructive public discourse and the promotion of inter-cultural dialogue.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation had provided support in two broad areas. The first was monitoring and reporting on hate crimes and providing assistance in the fight against hate crimes, namely legislation, training for law enforcement, data collection and education. The second was in protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief and educational tools that promoted tolerance and understanding. The Organization had prepared teaching materials, including the Toledo Guiding Principles which offered practical guidance for participating States. In a survey carried out following training, more than 50 per cent of the students that had used the materials had changed their attitudes as a result. Programmes were developed for capacity building of civil society and training was conducted in the area of combating hate crimes. Supporting civil society groups to come together and learn from each other’s experience could be very beneficial even if the environments in which they operated varied. The training of Government officials was critical; today was the first day of training for 12 members of the State Committee for Religious Affairs of Kyrgyzstan while in Poland training had already been delivered to over 200,000 police officers.

SUZAN JOHNSON COOK, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and Head of the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department of the United States, welcomed the opportunity to raise awareness and discuss actions the international community could take to implement the action-oriented approach laid out in the consensus resolution that called for the panel. It was in the interest of security and stability worldwide to ensure fundamental freedoms for people of all backgrounds and all faiths to understand that religious freedom was a universal human right. States had tools at their disposal to combat religious intolerance and in many cases what was needed was the political will to use them. Leaders should stand ready to condemn hateful ideology and vigorously defend the rights of individuals to practice their religion freely. Legal safeguards were essential, but it was better to create a climate that sought to prevent discrimination and violence before it happened than to punish it after the fact. When an extremist pastor in Florida threatened to, and then burned a Koran, President Obama and political leaders condemned his behavior, which was reviled and rebuked by virtually the entire society. It would be a productive exercise for political leaders around the world to review their own reaction to similar events in their countries and ask whether they had used their own leadership to make such behavior unattractive. President Obama had emphasized the importance of interfaith collaboration as a way to advance religious freedom. Leaders were urged to condemn offensive expression, identify areas of tensions between communities, train officials on outreach strategies and encourage leaders to discuss causes of discrimination and potential solutions with their communities. The suppression of speech often raised the profile of that speech, giving an even greater voice to speech others might find offensive.

Discussion

During the interactive dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance, speakers said that Governments, civil society and the international community as a whole should work in tandem to create the necessary synergies to deal with the issue of religious intolerance and discrimination on the basis of religion and belief. Speakers asked how the United Nations could record instances of intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of persons based on religion and belief and what was the best way to increase political will around the world to tackle these problems. Speakers said that history demonstrated how societies which were able to positively integrate different religious communities were richer and more prosperous, while those that chose to pursue exclusion along religious lines were ravaged by internal conflicts and inevitable decline. Speakers said that the media should consciously recognize its social responsibility to contribute to a tolerant environment. Institutional and legislative reforms could be undertaken to fight racism and intolerance by adapting domestic legislation to be in line with international treaties because international human rights law provided a powerful framework for the challenges that came with the complexity of modern societies.

A holistic approach was required for the promotion of tolerance including legislation with effective penalties for incitement to hatred, and awareness campaigns to stress the benefits of cultural diversity and training in different spheres of human rights for judges, public prosecutors and lawyers. There was a concern that in several countries around the world racism, religious extremism, ideological discrimination and institutionalization of discrimination was increasing. Attacks against emblematic representations of religion were a key factor in the rise of intolerance around the world. Many speakers stressed that the most lasting and effective way to promote tolerance of different religious beliefs and assist in minimizing discrimination on the basis of religion was through awareness training and the development of a comprehensive suite of education initiatives including the development of human rights education for primary and secondary schools.
Speakers said that States could foster a domestic environment of tolerance through supporting national and local interfaith initiatives that encouraged tolerance and dialogue by building stronger bonds of understanding and cooperation among different religious groups. Many speakers noted the need to promote a better understanding of Islam and called on States in the Muslim world to show that there was no false choice between Islam on the one side and devotion to human rights on the other side. Speakers asked how domestic efforts could be combined with international campaigns to show that Islam was completely compatible with international human rights and thereby create momentum for a better understanding of Islam around the world. Increasing manifestations of intolerance based on religious beliefs were of great concern for all States and stressed the promotion of moderation with national centres that could display exhibits and conduct seminars to demonstrate how tolerance could work to build a culture of peace and dialogue.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue in the panel were Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for the Islamic Conference, Italy, China, Morocco, the European Union, Cuba, Malaysia, Austria, Australia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Maldives, Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, Ireland and Kuwait.

During the interactive dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance, speakers said that an increased number of violent attacks against minorities in all regions over the past year were an issue of concern. Hostile concept of the other was increasing in all parts of the world, as evidenced by attacks on places of worship, or use of racist propaganda in politics. There was not one multi-religious and multicultural society in the world that was free from discrimination and intolerance today, and discussions on human rights were still marked by far too many prejudices and shortcuts. Combating discrimination was crucial, since eradication of stereotypes and fear was a major contribution to preventing violence, since intolerance bred intolerance. The phenomenon must be combated with resolution and in a comprehensive manner with a view to guaranteeing the universal right of individuals to freely express their religion or belief without fear of being prosecuted or discriminated against. A speaker noted that continuation of Islamophobia seriously threatened peace and security at the global level and that was why the international community must respond with a series of measures aimed at combating discrimination and religious intolerance.

That was why this panel was an avenue towards constructive and meaningful actions that the international community could take to promote respect for religious differences. All States must ensure that their domestic legislation was in line with international standards and in this regard, the role of the independent judiciary could not be over-emphasized. The March resolution of the Human Rights Council on combating intolerance provided clear steps and constructive actions to promote respect for religious differences. Many existing legal instruments authorized Governments to punish incitement to hatred on religious grounds, while the measures proposed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Secretary-General merited the attention of the Human Rights Council as well. It was noted that the construction of tolerant societies must not be left to state agents alone, but other actors must take an active part as well, including civil society and media. Speakers stressed the fundamental importance of education, training and awareness-raising in the protection of human rights and in promoting a culture of tolerance and in particular involvement of the youth in education programmes.

During the interactive dialogue, countries provided numerous examples of combating discrimination and promoting tolerance in their multicultural, multi-religious and diverse societies, such as protection of religious monuments and rehabilitation of those destroyed during conflicts, promotion of strong anti-discrimination laws, training of the police and law enforcement officers, bringing together of religious and local leaders to ensure constructive communication about local issues, and others. A speaker announced the non-governmental organization Human Rights Summit that would take place side-by-side with the United Nations General Assembly in September which would demand accountability for human rights violations and abuses, including discrimination and intolerance.

Speaking in the discussion were Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Bahrain, Sweden, Senegal, United States, Turkey, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Iran, Iraq, Russian Federation and Brazil. United Nations Watch also took the floor.

Concluding Remarks

SIMONA SANTORO, Advisor on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw, said that the comments made were interesting and would contribute greatly to future work on this subject. The commitment of governments in fighting intolerance was a key factor. If governments took the initiative then actions were more effective. When education materials were put in place with the support of governments, these materials were more broadly distributed and used. Civil society also had a key role as it had to deal directly with cases at the local level and provided aid to victims. Civil society could play a key role in planning and implementing policy. Ms. Santoro was glad that many interventions focused on education. If freedom of religion or belief was widely taught, then intolerance was better isolated.

AHMER BILAL SOOFI, Lawyer and expert on international humanitarian law and human rights and President of the Research Society of International law in Pakistan, made a point based on personal experience. He noted that as a practicing lawyer he had access to files of various people who had been involved in terrorist activities before the high court in Pakistan. He noted that an examination of the mind-set of those people who had literally declared war on the state or outside states, led one to conclude that the absence of legal remedies was key with regard to this mindset. Mr. Soofi noted that such a lack of a legal framework for remedies could be seen with a current terrorist case in Chicago.

DOUDOU DIENE, Vice-Chair of the Institute internationale de recherché politique et de civilization and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in his closing remarks said that racist and intolerant platforms made it impossible in many countries to win the battle on the legal front. Incitement to religious hatred was very poorly reflected in domestic legislation, said Mr. Diene. At the heart of the debate was the essential issue which was the way in which States dealt with the issue of diversity, how they understood, it, how they approached it, and how they educated about it.

MARIO MARAZZITI, Journalist and Spokesperson and Member of the International Board of the Community of Sant’Egidio, thanked participants for the incredibly interesting conversation. Mr. Marazziti said it was important to take into account that every religion was for life. He thus encouraged States to never consider the use of the death penalty to defend religion. There was a problem of monitoring offenses and thus a system of observatories should be established. It was necessary to promote a culture of dialogue and foster a new culture. This could include the establishment of task forces of opinion leaders, teachers, religious leaders and others as well as the use of mixed media to increase a new language and new vocabulary that would speed up the process.

ADIL AKHMETOV, Ambassador and Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims, noted that every country or participant country had unanimously supported the targets of the meeting. Judging by the speeches made, every country was committed to the targets set by the panel. He quoted the Late Reverend Paul the second, saying that the international community must not be surprised by the differences between cultures, religions and civilizations, rather that it should be surprised by the commonalities between cultures, religions and civilizations.

SUZAN JOHNSON COOK, Ambassador-at-Large for international religious freedom and Head of the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department of the United States, in her closing remarks said that the comments by delegations were constructive. Deliberate destruction of religious objects was despicable and the United States authorities condemned such actions. Apart from prosecution, there were other measures to deal with racism, intolerance and racial discrimination, such as through education and creation of links and collaborative networks between communities, together with the creation of global inter-religious dialogue.
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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.

In 1968 the United Nations 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 human rights Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief  is adopted international human rights law will be incomplete. It may be time to begin to consider reinstating the 1968 Working Group to better organize and bring all matters relating to freedom of religion or belief under one banner, a core international human rights legally-binding treaty.

Documents Attached: Background - Human Rights & Freedom of Religion or Belief; Can a Person who is Muslim Choose a Religion Other than Islam; USA - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; United Nations History - Religion, Science & Inquiry