‘Unfriending’ online hate: The contribution of the World Jewish Congress

by Leon Saltiel, WJC’s Representative in Geneva and Project Manager on Countering Antisemitism and Yfat Barak-Cheney, WJC’s Director of International Affairs Blog, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

There is little doubt that one of the modern world’s principal political challenges is the rise of hate speech, particularly in the cyber arena. Such hateful and intolerant expression, especially when widely circulated via the internet, promotes populism, extremism and radicalisation and deplorably leads to violence and murderous attacks. This incitement tears societies apart, threatens democracy and the rule of …

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 …

The Arc of the Covenant: The unfinished business of UN efforts to combat religious intolerance

by Ben Greenacre, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, In Focus: Human rights and religion

A ‘Lost Covenant’ The combating of religious discrimination is one of the oldest thematic topics of discussion within the UN human rights system. Originally bound closely with discussions on racial discrimination, particularly in the context of resurgent anti-Semitism in the aftermath of World War 2, it harks back to the mandate first handed the Commission on Human Rights by the …

Time to scrap the world’s remaining blasphemy laws

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

Last May, Ireland woke up to the strange news that the Irish police were investigating remarks made by actor Stephen Fry, which, it was alleged, might be considered blasphemous. In a 2015 television interview, Fry had accused God of being a selfish maniac, and asked: ‘why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is …

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, 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 Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, 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 …

Lost Covenant: A Story of the Failed 1967 Convention on Elimination of Religious Intolerance

by Steven L. B. Jensen, Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

2016 witnessed the 50th anniversary for a vital legacy for international human rights work, namely the adoption of the 1966 Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights. I would argue that the legacy from 1967 may be of equal relevance for today. In 2017, we face another highly pertinent 50th anniversary even if it …

How to move forward with the implementation of resolution 16/18 and with global efforts to combat religious intolerance and discrimination

by Marghoob Saleem Butt, Executive Director of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the OIC and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

Incitement to religious hatred, discrimination and violence needs to be addressed by everyone, and at all levels. That is especially so when one considers the increasingly globalised and interconnected world in which we live — events on one side of the planet can have immediate and far-reaching consequences for people on the other side. News relating to religious discrimination or …

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

by Andrew Smith, Legal Officer at ARTICLE 19 and the URG team Blog, 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 Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group and the URG team 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 …