Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Campaign against efforts of Islamic states for a law against defamation of religons

UN Watch - UN Watch, Freedom House, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union and 183 other non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries around the world today called on U.N. member states to reject a "pervasive and mounting campaign" by Islamic states to ban criticism of religion under international law. (See joint NGO statement below.)

"It’s an attempt to gut the concept of human rights of its original meeting, which is to protect individuals from harm or state control, not to shield a set of beliefs from critical inquiry," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, an independent human rights monitoring organization.

"Our freedoms of speech and religion are facing a combined assault by multiple regressive resolutions this week at the U.N. Human Rights Council, and proposed provisions for next month’s Durban 2 conference that endorse the Islamic proposal to change a core UN treaty on racism."

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations,

Deeply concerned by the pervasive and mounting campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to produce U.N. resolutions, declarations, and world conferences that propagate the concept of “defamation of religions,” a concept having no basis in domestic or international law, and which would alter the very meaning of human rights, which protect individuals from harm, but not beliefs from critical inquiry;

Deeply concerned by the attempt to misuse the U.N. to legitimize blasphemy laws, thereby restricting freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press;

Deeply concerned that “defamation of religions” resolutions may be used in certain countries to silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters, and other independent voices; Alarmed by the resolution on “defamation of religions” recently tabled at the current 10th session of the UN Human Rights Council;

Alarmed by the draft resolution on freedom of expression circulated by Egypt, whose amendments seek to restrict, not promote, protections for free speech;

Alarmed by the recently-announced initiative of the U.N. “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to amend the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by adding a protocol on “defamation of religions”;

Alarmed by provisions in the latest draft outcome document of the Durban Review Conference that, through coded language and veiled references, endorse and encourage these anti-democratic initiatives;

1. Call upon all governments to oppose the “defamation of religions” resolution currently tabled at the UN Human Rights Council, and the objectionable provisions of the freedom of expression resolution;

2. Call upon all governments to resist the efforts of the “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to alter the ICERD;

3. Call upon all governments not to accept or legitimize a Durban Review Conference outcome that directly or indirectly supports the “defamation of religions” campaign at the expense of basic freedoms and individual human rights.

More can be read HERE

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