[On March 26] the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a "defamations of religions" resolution by a vote of 23 yes, 11 no, 13 abstentions. This is the second year in a row that "no" votes and "abstention" votes outweigh the "yes" votes.
Countries that voted in favor of the ignored a petition signed by a wide coalition of over 180 non-governmental organizations from over 50 different countries requesting that the Human Rights Council reject a resolution on "defamation of religions." The petition was co-drafted by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
"Human rights protect people, not ideas," said L. Bennett Graham, Becket Fund representative to the UN presently in Geneva. "The passage of this resolution by the Human Rights Council is a disaster for people of all faiths."
Versions of this resolution have been adopted by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council since introduced by the Islamic Conference in 1999 under the title "defamation of Islam." However, there has been an international outcry against the resolution resulting in sustained lobbying at the United Nations. In 2008, for the first time, no and abstention votes combined outweighed yes votes on the "defamation of religions."
"We are no longer talking about rights at the Human Rights Council, we are talking about politics. It’s a disgrace," added L. Bennett Graham. "We already have the tools we need to address religious conflicts in international law, including existing provisions against incitement to hatred and violence. We need to use them better."
The Becket Fund has been a leading advocate against the resolutions and "defamation of religions" concept, and has delivered several interventions before the Human Rights Council (click here for a 2006 intervention, and here for an intervention from the current session) and issued a brief on this topic as well as having testified before various governmental and non-governmental bodies as well as the press.