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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
A/HRC/16/L.38 – Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and
discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief

Resolution A/HRC/16/L.38  
Pakistan has taken the lead in sponsorship of this resolution on human rights and freedom of religion or belief.  The introduction and responses before the vote are clear on the importance of the resolution for human rights and freedom of religion or belief. Given the level of tension and violence in the world this resolution is a beacon of hope. Download in Real Player.

Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC) Mr. Zamir Akram  video[English] 10 minutes Saudi Arabia Mr. Ahmed Suleiman Ibrahim Alaquil  video[English] [Arabic] 1 minute Norway Ms. Beate Stirø video[English] 2 minutes United States of America Mr. Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe video[English] 5 minutes Hungary (on behalf of the European Union) Mr. András Dékány  video[English] 3 minutes

UN Human Rights Council Panel Statements, Resolution A-HRC-16-18, 2010 General Assembly Third Committee Actions


ISSUE:  Anders Behring Breivik is the ethnic Norwegian perpetrator of the most horrific acts of terrorism in Norway since WW II. In an opinion page article in the New York Times, 31 July 2011, by Thomas Hegghammer, Senior Research Fellow of the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, Breivik is quoted as saying he is “extremely proud of his Odinistic/Norse heritage and while he is Christian admits ‘I’m not a very religious person.’ “While Breivik’s violent acts are exceptional, his anti-Islamic views are not. His goal is to reverse what he views as the Islamization of Western Europe.” 

Intolerance, negative stereotyping, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons is an increasing concern as the UN Human Rights Council panel discussion illustrates calling for open public debate of ideas, interfaith and intercultural dialogue at local, national and international levels, to strengthen democracy and combat existing misperceptions and hatreds based on religion or belief.
 Assimilation’s Failure, Terrorism’s Rise

Discussion at Augsburg with Kjell-Magne Bondevik


Resolution A/HRC/16/18 - Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping, Discrimination and  Incitement to Violence & 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.
Recognizes that the open public debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national and international levels can be among the best protections against religious intolerance, and can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious hatred, and convinced that a continuing dialogue on these issues can help overcome existing misperceptions.

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.


THE TEST

The test for Resolution A/HRC/16/18 which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council by consensus without a vote is whether it will be adopted by consensus without a vote by the General Assembly in the Fall of 2011, thereby resolving issues on Combating Defamation of Religion and the Right to Choose a Religion or Belief.


THIRD COMMITTEE
 2011

PASSED BY CONSENSUS  

http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/66/propslist.shtml

If clicking on A/C.3/66/L.47 below does not open, click on the link above and scroll down to the middle of the list, click to open A/C.3/66/L.47 in the six United Nations languages.

The United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) introduced  resolution A/C.3/66/L.47, Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief. 

Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief

If clicking on A/C.3/66/L.48, Elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief does not open, click on the link above L.47 and L.48 and scroll down to the middle of the list to open A/C/3/66/L.48 in the six United Nations languages. 

http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/66/votingsheets.shtml


15 November 2011

General Assembly
GA/SHC/4029


Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly
Third Committee
44th Meeting (AM)

The Committee next turned to the draft resolution on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence against persons, based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/66/L.47/Rev.1), which was introduced by the representative of the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the OIC.

In the draft text, the Assembly would reaffirm the commitment made by all States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to, inter alia, religion or belief. It would also strongly deplore all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as all attacks on and in religious places, sites and shrines in violation of international law, in particular human rights law and international humanitarian law, including any deliberate destruction of relics and monuments.

In that regard, the Assembly would welcome all international, regional and national initiatives aimed at promoting interreligious, intercultural and interfaith harmony and combating discrimination against individuals on the basis of religion or belief. It would also condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

The Assembly would call upon all States to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief; to foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society; and to make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures.

The representative of Poland, on behalf of the European Union, said it firmly believed in freedom of expression and thought based on religion and belief. An ongoing dialogue about those important issues was the only way to overcome existing divergences and opinions, and the European Union remained firmly committed to that dialogue. The regional body welcomed the positive atmosphere in which those issues had been discussed, but would like to highlight those making dialogue were individuals and that each individual had multiple sources of identity. Religious hatred was primarily a threat to individual freedoms at national and local levels, and the European Union was concerned that the resolution considered the world as monolithic religious blocks. The European Union condemned attacks on religious sites, but also believed the protection of individuals must be the centre of attention. All persons belonging to religious communities and minorities should be allowed to practice their religion freely, without religions intolerance. The resolution specifically mentions one centre for interreligious dialogue, whereas there were numerous centres around the world. Despite those issues, the Members of the European Union were in a position to join consensus, he said.

The representative of the United States said his country was pleased to join the consensus on the resolution, which it hoped would be a blueprint for further action. The United States was glad that the landmark consensus achieved at the Council in Geneva was also reached here in New York — it was deeply concerning that those problems persisted all over the world. In the past, the United States was not able to support such resolutions, because they sought to restrict expression, which was counterproductive and exacerbated the problems they sought to address. The resolution adopted today provided for criminalization in only one circumstance: incitement of imminent violence. It upheld respect for universal human rights, and each Members State had much work to do to turn actions recommended in this resolution into reality.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution by consensus.

Speaking after adoption of the resolution, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said it was with great satisfaction that the OIC thanked Members for their consensus. It was a very positive development that they were happily working towards fulfilling the objectives of the resolution, which also complemented other General Assembly resolutions.

Australia’s representative said his delegation was very pleased to co‑sponsor the inaugural resolution, which was directly important to his country. In a country as hugely diverse as Australia, any violence was a direct threat to the health of the society itself. Nationally, Australia was trying to ensure that everyone could celebrate and practice their religions free from discrimination. This year Australia had also launched a new multicultural policy, which it took very seriously, and was negotiating a practical joint programme of cooperation with the OIC. It commended the OIC for its historic achievement.

Turning towards the draft resolution on elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief (document A/C.3/66/L.48/Rev.1), which was introduced by Poland’s representative on behalf of the European Union, the Committee approved that text.

By its terms, the Assembly would be deeply concerned at continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals and members of religious communities and religious minorities around the world and at the limited progress made in the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief. The Assembly would, therefore, recognize that further intensified efforts were needed to promote and protect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief and to eliminate all forms of hatred, intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, as also noted at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 8 September 2001, as well as at the Durban Review Conference, held in Geneva from 20 to 24 April 2009.

The Assembly would also strongly condemn all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief, as well as violations of freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. It would stress that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief applies equally to all persons, regardless of their religion or belief and without any discrimination as to their equal protection by the law. It would also strongly condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio‑visual or electronic media or any other means.

The Assembly would urge States to step up their efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, and urge all Governments to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on freedom of religion and belief. It would request the Secretary-general to ensure that the Special Rapporteur receives the resources necessary to fully discharge his mandate, and would request the Special Rapporteur to submit an interim report to the General Assembly at its sixty-seventh session. It would also decide to consider the question of the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance at its sixty-seventh session under the item entitled “Promotion and protection of human rights”.


REFLECTIONS

The Tandem Project

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 often teaches are legitimized for national security reasons and justified by cultural, ethnic, religious or political 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 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 a foundation for resolution of 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.

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.

UN Human Rights Council Panel Discussion - Culture of Tolerance and Peace - 14 June 2011

Documents Attached: UN Third Committee Press Release - L.47 & L.48 Passed by Consensus; UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; SOMALIA - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief; NORWAY - Universal Periodic Review & Freedom of Religion or Belief