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UNHRC Resolution on Incitement to Religious Hatred

Numerous websites have noted the new resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council, passed at the behest of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The International Herald Tribune has the details:

…The resolution, which was opposed by European and a number of other non-Muslim countries, “expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.”

It makes no mention of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism or any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries “to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence.”

Given the makeup of the UNHRC, sceptics have suggested that “incitement” is here meant to mean any mocking or criticism of Islam or Islamic governments. Actually, while this news has garnered a great deal of publicity, it pretty much repeats a similar resolution made by the old UN Commission on Human Rights two years ago, again at the behest of the OIC, which I blogged on then.

Meanwhile, the UNHRC has come under further scorn given that the only country it has managed to condemn so far has been Israel. This is, of course, a gift to pro-Israel groups, which consequently can dismiss any criticisms laid against the country as anti-Semitism and bias; Hillel Nauer of UN Watch managed an effective performance along these lines last week, further helped by a subsequent scolding from the council’s president, Luis Alfonso de Alba, who apparently objected to the most influential members of the UNHRC being referred to (correctly) as “dictators who…couldn’t care less about Palestinians, or about any human rights.”

De Alba’s speech on his appointment last summer can be seen here. It includes the following:

…From now on, human rights are not just going to be a priority in the work of the United Nations: they will also constitute one of its three fundamental pillars, as proposed by the Secretary-General last year.

…It is of great importance to agree on a balanced agenda that reflects our will to address all rights in all countries, to identify gaps and to avoid unnecessary duplications to strengthen the existing mechanisms. It is also necessary to improve coordination with bodies and agencies within and outside the United Nations System, and at the same time, to foster the incorporation of a human rights perspective in all their activities.

Let’s embark on the task of generating, in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation, a mechanism of universal and periodic evaluation to know the improvements and more pressing duties every State has in human rights issues. If we can achieve this, we will avoid the excessive politization [sic] and the use of double standards of which the former Commission was accused.

De Alba was also interviewed by Open Democracy, which noted that

The now defunct UN Human Rights Commission had few friends by the end. Its critics complained of an extreme politicisation that made it highly selective about the issues it addressed. To make things worse, it was easily paralysed if a minority chose to block discussion.

…The new Human Rights Council was created in its stead, with the hope that these problems would be resolved with a fresh start and a new structure.

But it seems that despite changing the word “Commission” to “Council”, and turning “UNCHR” into “UNHRC”, further efforts may be required…

(Hat tip: MediaWatchWatch)

2 Responses

  1. Arrgh. Good writeup. Thanks.

  2. […] blogged on some of these efforts, here and here. The Becket Fund is now part of a ”Coalition to Defend Free Speech” in opposition to […]

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