UN Threatens Binding Treaty on “Defamation of Religions”

[Thursday], the UN Human Rights Council agreed to extend the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee, a UN body that is working on a binding treaty on the ‘defamation of religions’ by adopting the motion without a vote. However, support for the flawed concept is dwindling as attempts to fast-track the drafting of a formal treaty were defeated.

The Becket Fund and over 130 collaborating organizations opposed the concept in a common statement last fall denouncing the ineffectiveness of the concept to ease inter-religious tensions.

“By protecting ideas instead of people, and empowering states instead of their citizens, the concept undermines the foundations of human rights law,” stated Angela C. Wu, international law director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Also today, the UN Human Rights Council passed a separate non-binding resolution on ‘defamation of religions’ with 20 in favor, 17 against, and 8 abstentions – the closest margin since the resolution floated in 1999. The vote was a mere four votes short of defeat, which would mark a significant step forward towards a real solution to the problems of racism and religious discrimination.

“While the threat of a binding treaty on blasphemy looms large, democratic states who have supported this flawed concept for years are finally waking up,” stated L. Bennett Graham. “Something has been broken in Geneva for too long.  The UN should focus on protecting our most fundamental freedoms of conscience and expression instead of spending all day finding ways to restrict them.”

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