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2009-03-31
Geneva, Switzerland
IRLA Concerned over UN Defamation of Religions Resolution
The International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) is disappointed that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has yet again passed a resolution against the “Defamation of Religions” at its meeting in Geneva today. Member countries on the UNHRC did so despite the growing chorus of opposition against the measure that seeks to protect religion and religious ideologies at the expense of individual religious freedom and freedom of expression.
“Defamation of Religions” resolutions have become familiar at the UN since 1999 when Pakistan first presented such a resolution. Pakistan has been the leading proponent of the resolution ever since. For a number of years the resolution passed without much opposition. However, that has now changed. Each year, more countries recognize the inherent contradictions of such a resolution at the international body responsible for human rights.

Today’s resolution passed by a vote of 23 yes, 11 no, and 13 abstaining. The combined no’s and abstentions outnumbered the yes’s. It was not always that way.
Credit for the change of sentiment is the result of several NGOs working together to highlight the problems such a resolution brings. The International Religious Liberty Association teamed up with others in Geneva during the HRC session – including The Becket Fund and UN Watch.

“We are concerned,” says Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of IRLA, speaking from Geneva at the time of the adoption of the resolution, “that it would limit freedom of expression.”
“The problem with these “Defamation of Religions resolutions”,” says Barry Bussey, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington, DC, “is complex and multifaceted. Who determines when a religion is defamed ? The courts ? The state ? What makes them the arbiters on matters of religious belief ? It is simply too fraught with possibilities of abuse of power. The free world cannot keep letting this thing pass each year without opposition.”

Source : IRLA
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