from The Great Debate:

Human Rights Day: Still pursuing religious freedom

By Katrina Lantos Swett and Mary Ann Glendon
December 10, 2013

December 10 marks Human Rights Day, the 65th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), signed by 48 nations -- with just eight abstentions.

Hillary Clinton seeks to smooth Islamic defamation row with OIC

July 15, 2011

(U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (L) in Istanbul July 15, 2011/Murad Sezer)

U.N. rights forum proclaims equal gay rights, Muslims states object

June 18, 2011

(Delegates talk at the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva June 9, 2011/Denis Balibouse)

Islamic bloc drops 12-year U.N. drive to ban defamation of religion

March 24, 2011
(U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the high level segment of the 16th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)

(U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Human Rights Council in Geneva and urges it "to move beyond a decade-long debate over whether insults to religion should be banned or criminalised," February 28, 2011/Valentin Flauraud)

Frictions seen easing in troubled U.N. human rights body

March 24, 2011
(Delegates observe a one-minute silence during the high level segment of the 16th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)

(Delegates at the 16th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, February 28, 2011/Valentin Flauraud)

Vatican tells U.N. that critics of gays under attack

March 22, 2011
Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican/Tom Heneghan

Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican/Tom Heneghan

People who criticise gay sexual relations for religious or moral reasons are increasingly being attacked and vilified for their views, a Vatican diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

U.N. restores gay reference to violence measure

December 22, 2010

united nations (Photo: United Nations headquarters in New York, July 31, 2008/Brendan McDermid)

The United States has succeeded in getting the United Nations to restore a reference to killings due to sexual orientation that had been deleted from a resolution condemning unjustified executions.

Support for UN vote against defaming religion wanes

November 24, 2010

ungaA U.N. General Assembly committee has once again voted to condemn the “vilification of religion” but support narrowed for a measure that Western powers say is a threat to freedom of expression. The non-binding resolution, championed by Islamic states and opposed by Western countries, passed by only 12 votes on Tuesday in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, 76-64 with 42 abstentions.

from Afghan Journal:

Saudi Arabia spot on UN women agency triggers outcry

November 14, 2010

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The United Nations has set up a new super agency to better fight for the rights of women around the world including Afghanistan. This week UN Women, as the new body is called, held elections to choose countries to sit on the board and the results have triggered a storm of criticism even before the new agency formally comes into being next January. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia were in the running for a seat, and while Iran got displaced at the last minute in the vote, the Saudis are through.

Why did the U.N. proclaim World Interfaith Harmony Week?

October 22, 2010

unga 1 (Photo: United Nations General Assembly hall, 23 Nov 2006/Jérôme Blum)

The United Nations General Assembly passes a stack of resolutions every year and many of them go all but unnoticed.  One such document just approved in New York established a new World Interfaith Harmony Week. High-minded resolutions put most news junkies to sleep, so it’s probably no surprise this one got such scant media coverage (see here and here). But there’s more to this one than meets the glazed-over eye.