- About IHEU
- Human rights
- Upcoming Conferences
- World Humanist Congress 2011
- World Humanist Congress 2008
- World Humanist Congress 2005
- World Humanist Congress 2002
- World Humanist Congress 1999
- Other Conferences
- Australasia & South East Asia
- Former Soviet States
- Indian States
- Islamic States
- Latin America
- North America
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- Contact us
You are here
Human Rights Council Resolution "Combating Defamation of Religion"
Submitted by admin on 26 March, 2009 - 08:14
More than 200 civil society organizations from 46 countries, including Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Secular, Humanist and Atheist groups, have endorsed a statement jointly sponsored by IHEU, UN Watch, Freedom House and the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, urging member states of the UN Human Rights Council to reject the resolution: "Combating Defamation of Religions" due to be voted on in Geneva on 26 March 2009.
Roy Brown, spokesman for IHEU in Geneva said: “This resolution is both unnecessary and dangerous. It not only fails in its stated purpose of protecting Muslims from hatred but will actually exacerbate tensions between faith communities. The unprecedented level of response we have achieved from civil society in just four days reflects the very high level of concern world-wide surrounding this issue.”
The resolution, which many States and NGOs have stressed has no validity in international law, fails to distinguish between criticism of religion and hatred of the believers, creating the false impression that the first leads inexorably to the second. By deflecting attention from discrimination against individuals and focusing on religion, the resolution is actually doing a disservice to victims of discrimination.
And by attempting to restrict criticism of religion in the guise of protecting believers, such resolutions – several of which have been adopted by UN bodies since 1999 – have had a chilling effect on freedom of expression and have helped create a climate in which any criticism of Islamic law or practices is immediately condemned as “Islamophobia”.
Said Brown, “The resolution is part of a wider campaign by the Islamic States to impose values on the rest of the international community which are largely unacceptable in liberal democracies. Freedom of Expression is protected in international law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 states that everyone has the right “to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.” Articles 19 and 20 also set out the permitted limits to freedom of expression. They do not include protection for ideas, beliefs or religion per se; it is the believer not the belief that the ICCPR seeks to protect.
“The sponsors of this resolution have failed to understand that Freedom of Religion or Belief depends on Freedom of Expression. If the beliefs of one religion are to be deemed ‘defamation’ of another, society is on a very slippery slope” said Brown.
The list of signatory organizations is available here.