THE TANDEM PROJECT
UNITED NATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS,
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
VEILED DEMOCRACY & REPUBLIC
Issue: Reservations placed on international human rights treaties based on Islamic Sharia’ law
For: United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media, Civil Society
Review: Veiled Democracy? By Noah Feldman, New York Times Op-Ed page,
The Tandem Project does not endorse this article but
applauds the attempt at describing the issue and proposing dialogue to resolve
it. As the article Veiled Democracy points
out this is about more than Turkey; it addresses the Muslim world at large
which is “embroiled in its own epochal debate about whether an authentically Islamic government can and must respect individual freedoms
and the equality of all citizens,” including the right to change one’s religion
The Republic of Turkey is a member of the Organization
of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which places reservations
based on Islamic Sharia’ law on most international human rights treaties.
Objective: Build understanding and support for Article 18, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights –Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Encourage the United Nations, Governments, Religions or Beliefs, Academia, NGOs, Media and Civil Society to use these international human rights standards as essential for long-term solutions to conflicts based on religion or belief.
Challenge: In 1968 the United Nations deferred work on an International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance, because of its apparent complexity and sensitivity. In the twenty-first century, a dramatic increase of intolerance and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief is motivating a worldwide search to find solutions to these problems. This is a challenge calling for enhanced dialogue by States and others; including consideration of an International Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief for protection of and accountability by all religions or beliefs. The tensions in today’s world inspire a question such as:
Extracts: Extracts are presented under the Eight Articles of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Examples of extracts are presented prior to an Issues Statement for each Review.
ARTICLE 1: 1981 UN DECLARATION
1. 1 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practices and teaching.
1. 2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.
1. 3 Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
ARTICLE 6: 1981 UN DECLARATION
6. 3 To make, acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites and customs of a religion or belief;
By Noah Feldman, New York
Times Op Ed Page,
on women covering their heads on campus has long been a thorn in the side of
the Justice and Development Party. The rule has the perverse effect of keeping
devoutly religious women out of higher education. A few years ago, while on a
trip to lecture about Islam, I met a daughter of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan — not in
The ban —
a relic of the aggressive secularism enforced by modern
description of the package of draft amendments that was leaked to the press
But before the amendment package could be formally introduced, a minority secularist party, the Nationalist Movement Party, introduced an amendment limited to ending the head-scarf ban. Support from that party essentially guarantees passage for any initiative the government favors — and, indeed, it passed a preliminary vote on Thursday and is likely to get final approval tomorrow. Apparently, Prime Minister Erdogan felt he could not turn down the opportunity to get the head scarf ban revoked.
Unfortunately, the passage of the head-scarf amendment casts doubt on whether the rest of the constitutional package will be introduced at all. Some hard-liners within the ruling party seem to be questioning whether it is worth the fight over liberal constitutional ideals if the gains to religion like lifting the head scarf ban can be achieved other ways. They have a point: the party must always be careful about provoking the military, which sees itself not only as the protector of secularism but of traditional Turkish nationalism, and is wary of any major liberalizing changes.
raises a big question about Mr. Erdogan: is he dedicated to his party’s plans
for comprehensive constitutional reform, or is he simply serving the interests
of religion? The latter would be a grave error — if
Yet there is a more important audience: the Muslim world at large. The rising global Islamist movement is embroiled in its own epochal debate about whether an authentically Islamic government can and must respect individual freedoms and the equality of all citizens. The best possible refutation of the claim that Islam and democracy are incompatible would be to point to an existing government where liberal and Islamic values work together.
ISSUE STATEMENT: The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights First Preamble reads as follows: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. This principle suggests all States recalling their history, culture and constitution, provide equal protection as stated in international law; for theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. This statement is part of General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In 2003 the
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF (A/HRC/6/L.15/Rev.1)
Human Rights Council resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur
on Freedom of Religion or Belief by three years (A/HRC/6/L.15/Rev/1) was the
only resolution not to pass by consensus. An attempt was made for consensus by
leaving out 24 out of the original 40 paragraphs. According to the
International Service for Human Rights report, “
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) reported “
these disagreements, the OIC called for a vote, and said it would abstain. A large number of OIC members of the Council then
took the floor to align with the statement by
Adopted and issued at the Nineteenth Islamic
Foreign Ministers on
The Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference,
the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best
nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which
harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is
combined with faith; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a
humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions
to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization. – The
Article 24: All the rights and
freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah. – The
9. The Committee is concerned about the general reservation made upon ratification of the Convention by the State party, which is drawn so widely that it is contrary to the object and purpose of the Convention.
10. The Committee urges the State party to consider the withdrawal of its general reservation to the Convention, particularly in light of the fact that the delegation assured that there is no contradiction in substance between the Convention and Islamic Sharia.
The Tandem Project: a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1986 to build understanding and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference materials and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The Tandem Project initiative was launched in 1986 as the result of a co-founder representing the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) at a 1984 United Nations Geneva Seminar, Encouragement of Understanding, Tolerance and Respect in Matters Relating to Freedom of Religion or Belief, called by the UN Secretariat on ways to implement the 1981 UN Declaration. In 1986, The Tandem Project organized the first NGO International Conference on the 1981 UN Declaration.
The Tandem Project Executive Director: Michael M. Roan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
VEILED DEMOCRACY & REPUBLIC OF
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
THE CAIRO DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM
SAUDI ARABIA - FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF & CEDAW CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations