Rejection of "defamation of religions" campaign

25 March 09

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."

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the defamation of religions resolution

Following is the joint NGO statement and list of 187 signatories:

Joint NGO Statement on Danger of U.N. “Defamation of Religions” Campaign

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.

1. UN Watch 2. International Humanist and Ethical Union 3. Freedom House 4. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty 5. Centre for Political Studies (CEPOS) 6. Muslim Council of Canada 7. International Association of Prosecutors 8. World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission 9. Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (Italy) 10. The International Quranic Center (IQC) 11. International Press Institute (IPI) 12. Human Rights Without Frontiers International 13. Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme (LICRA) 14. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) 15. American Islamic Congress 16. World Union of Progressive Judaism 17. United Nations Association of Mauritius 18. World Jewish Congress 19. Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) 20. Association for World Education 21. Association of World Citizens 22. International Publishers Association 23. The Institute for African Alternatives 24. International Jurist Organization 25. Frontiers Association (Lebanon) 26. International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty 27. Rationalist Association 28. Greek Helsinki Monitor 29. British Humanist Association 30. Sidmennt Ethical Humanist Association 31. National Secular Society 32. B’nai B’rith International 33. International Foundation for Population and Development 34. North London Humanist Group 35. Endeavour Forum Inc. 36. Association Suisse des Libres Penseurs 37. Humanist Academy of Scotland 38. Media Institute of Southern Africa (Regional Secretariat and its chapters in 11 SADC countries) 39. American Humanist Association 40. Darfur Peace And Development Centre 41. American Atheists 42. Media Institute (Kenya) 43. Union of Freethinkers 44. Maharat Foundation (Lebanon) 45. Open Doors USA 46. Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) 47. One Law for All Campaign 48. Organisation against Women’s Discrimination (Iran) 49. The DiaHumanism Institute 50. Women’s international Zionist Organization (WIZO) 51. Canadian Humanist Publications 52. Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS-Azerbaijan) 53. Indian Humanist Union 54. The Tandem Project 55. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community 56. International Committee to Protect Freethinkers 57. Center for Security Policy 58. World Citizens Foundation 59. South Sudan Movement in Disapora 60. International PEN Writers in Prison Committee 61. Atheist Foundation of Australia 62. Minority Rights Group (Greece) 63. Nigerian Humanist Movement 64. National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) 65. Social Development Foundation (India) 66. Swedish Humanist Association 67. Rationalist Forum of Hyderabad (India) 68. Manava Vikasa Vedika (India) 69. European Union of Jewish Students 70. Centre for Study of Society and Secularism ( India) 71. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention 72. North East Humanists 73. Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI) 74. Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES-Nepal) 75. New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists 76. Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (CADAL) 77. International Council of Jewish Women 78. Humanist Canada 79. NGO Forum (Mauritius) 80. European Humanist Federation 81. Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM-Serbia) 82. Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations 83. Burgerbewegung Pax Europa 84. Media Watch (Bangladesh) 85. Finnish Humanist Union 86. Humanist and Ethical Union of Kenya 87. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI-Egypt) 88. American Jewish Congress 89. Atheist Centre Andhra Pradesh (India) 90. Spurthi Dalit Humanist organisation (India) 91. German Forum for Human Rights 92. Jihad Watch 93. Rationalist Association of NSW 94. Adhra Pradesh Rationalist Association (India) 95. Satya Shodhak Sabha, Gujerat (India) 96. Arab Archives Institute (AAI-Jordan) 97. Open Doors International 98. Council of Australian Humanist Societies 99. Jubilee Campaign USA 100. Simon Wiesenthal Centre 101. Humanist Society of Queensland 102. Algerian Centre for the Defence and Promotion of Press Freedom (CALP) 103. Atheist Alliance International 104. CWA, Switzerland 105. Rationalist Society of Australia 106. Media Rights Agenda (MRA-Nigeria) 107. Humanist Society of New Zealand 108. Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations 109. Center for Inquiry, Low Countries 110. Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers 111. World Union of Jewish Students 112. Humanist Association of Northern Ireland 113. Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS-Venezuela) 114. Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute 115. Humanist Association of Ottawa 116. Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP-Liberia) 117. Liberté de Conscience 118. Syria Reform Party 119. The Free Press Society (Denmark) 120. International Free Press Society 121. Muslims Against Sharia 122. Centre for the Study of Social Change (India) 123. Danish Atheist Society 124. Mouvement Pour la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme 125. Minnesota Atheists 126. Free Media Movement (FMM-Sri Lanka) 127. Cultural Bridges 128. American Ethical Union 129. Hotline Human Rights (Bangladesh) 130. Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association 131. Women’s Missionary Society AME Church 132. Unie Vrijzinniger Vereningingen (Belgium) 133. Humanistisch Verbond 134. Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands 135. Montagnard Foundation, Inc. 136. Humanist Association of Ireland 137. United American Committee 138. Humanistiche Vrijzinnige Vereniging (Belgium) 139. Quadlibet Strategic Ventures NFP 140. Netradana Protsahaka Sangam (India) 141. Human Rights Service (Norway) 142. Pink Triangle Trust 143. Gujerat Mumbai Rationalist Association 144. Southern California Ecumenical Council 145. Viveka Vidyalayam (India) 146. International Christian Concern 147. The International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) 148. International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization 149. Disha Dalit Humanist organization (India) 150. European Union of Public Relations 151. Socio-political Analysis and Research Organization (India) 152. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) 153. Jana Vignana Vedika (India) 154. Society of Catholic Social Scientists 155. Society for Humanism and Social Change (India) 156. Evangelical Alliance UK 157. Indian Radical Humanist Association 158. Fondation Genereuse Developpement (FGD-Cameroon) 159. Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association 160. Center for Inquiry International 161. Swedish Youth Humanist Association 162. Religious Freedom Coalition 163. Act for America 164. Belfast Humanist Group 165. Council of ex-Muslims of Britain 166. Unione degli Atei e degli Agnostici Razionalisti (Italy) 167. Secular Student Alliance 168. Summit Ministries 169. Doha Centre for Media Freedom (Qatar) 170. Fire Rescue Development Program 171. Sydney Atheists 172. Adil Soz, International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech (Kazakhstan) 173. European Network Church on the Move 174. Traditional Values Coalition 175. Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) 176. Humanist Society of Queensland 177. Jewish Human Rights Coalition (UK) 178. Redeem the Vote 179. Pray in Jesus Name Project 180. Humanist Society of Victoria 181. Index on Censorship 182. Unity Coalition for Israel 183. Sociedad Humanista-etica, Deodoro Roca (Argentina) 184. Secular Party of Australia 185. India Committee of the Netherlands 186. Humanistische Alliatie (Netherlands) 187. Norwegian PEN

See online: UN Watch
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