France’s watered-down anti-hate speech law enters into force

by the URG team Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, Blog, In focus: democracy, In Focus: Human rights and religion

On 1 July a new French law entered into force that aims to regulate online hate speech. Known as the ‘Avia law’ after Laetitia Avia, the parliamentarian who drafted the original bill, the final law was significantly watered down during its passage through the lower house of parliament and the Senate, following opposition from free speech activists. Then, in an …

Does the UN already have the tools to prevent violent extremism? The newly discovered role of social exclusion and discrimination in violent extremism

by Samuel Gordon, URG Blog, Blog, In Focus: Human rights and religion

When the United Nations was established in 1945 one of its fundamental ambitions was to create a world that wasn’t plagued by religious and racial persecution and discrimination. In the aftermath of WW2, the mantra of never again, was continuously used to represent the new commitment to the protection of religious and minority rights. This immediately began to manifest itself …

Es momento de borrar las restantes leyes de blasfemia del mundo

by Joelle Fiss and Geneva Blog, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

En mayo pasado, Irlanda se despertó ante la extraña noticia de que la policía irlandesa estaba investigando comentarios hechos por el actor Stephen Fry, que, según se alega, podría considerarse blasfemo. En una entrevista televisiva de 2015, Fry había acusado a Dios de ser un maníaco egoísta, y preguntó: “¿por qué debería yo respetar a un Dios estúpido caprichoso, mezquino, …

The world is marching towards – not away from – universal human rights, argues new study by the Universal Rights Group

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group and Geneva Blog, In Focus: Human rights and religion

The debate over whether ‘human rights’ are indeed ‘universal’ or, as some would argue, are to be understood and applied differently depending on national, regional, cultural or religious contexts (so-called ‘cultural relativism’) is well-known. In today’s world, where political leaders in some established democracies appear to be sounding the retreat from liberal internationalism, and where religious extremists are bent on …

‘No fear, no hate, no wall, no ban:’ the world – and freedom of expression – at a critical juncture

by Dr Agnes Callamard, Director, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University and Geneva Asuntos contemporáneos y emergentes, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

In the aftermath of the so-called ‘Danish cartoons crisis’ in 2005, the political, policy and academic world was replete with debates over the benefits or risks of ‘blasphemy laws.’ The debates highlighted a profound gap between those who believed that mocking religion (the faith, the tenets, the sacraments, the symbols, etc.) should not be tolerated and those who argued that …

Implementing Resolution 16/18: the role of Rabat and the importance of civil society space

by the URG team and Andrew Smith, Legal Officer at ARTICLE 19 Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

The 31st session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) is a significant marker: not only will the HRC celebrate its 10th birthday, but the session will mark five years since the adoption of resolution 16/18 on “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief .” In the current geopolitical context, the consensus that underpins resolution 16/18 is increasingly precarious, despite being more important than ever. In March, the HRC will consider …

The road to Istanbul passes through Rabat

by the URG team and Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, In Focus: Human rights and religion

On 3rd-4th June, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted, in Jeddah, a fifth round of the Istanbul Process, a series of intergovernmental meetings launched in 2011 by the former OIC Secretary-General, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, and former US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. The Istanbul Process was put in place to promote and guide the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combatting religious intolerance and discrimination. The resolution, adopted …

A way forward for the 16/18 process

by Caka A. Awal* Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

A policy report of Universal Rights Group (URG) on ‘ Combatting Global Religious Intolerance: the Implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 ’ has rightly pointed out the complexities of the issues surrounding freedom of religion or belief and the fight against global religious intolerance. The report provides useful historical insights about the UN’s journey to confront and combat racial and religious intolerance. It is interesting to note that on 25th November 1981 …

Charlie Hebdo attack and global reaction highlights critical importance of renewed commitment to the implementation of resolution 16/18 and the Rabat Plan of Action

by Andrew Smith, Legal Officer at ARTICLE 19 Blog, In Focus: Human rights and religion

Last week’s appalling attack against journalists and police officers at the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and the cascade of comment and counter-comment that has followed, remind us once again of both the importance of, and the sensitivities that surround, the relationship between freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and non-discrimination. Identifying and understanding the contours of that relationship …