The debate over possible United Nations resolutions condemning defamation of religions is heating up as Islamic countries campaign to have an upcoming U.N. document on racism include such a call. (Photo: United Nations General Assembly, 26 Sept 2008/Eric Thayer)
The document, a follow-up to the final declaration of the 2001 Durban conference on racism, is due out in April. The freedom of expression rapporteurs of the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have called on the United Nations not to issue any such resolution.
As Reuters correspondent Robert Evans wrote in his news story from Geneva on Wednesday:
“The concept of ‘defamation of religions’ does not accord with international standards regarding defamation, which refer to the protection of reputation of individuals,” they said.
“Religions, like all beliefs, cannot be said to have a reputation of their own,” they added. Limits on freedom of expression should only be used to bar advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred amounting to inciting violence.