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The UN seems to be weak in regards to basic human rights. While Blasphemy laws are debated constantly, basic freedoms of expression are ignored.

March 18, 2013

Note: the United Nations Human Rights Council this Friday will close its monthlong 22nd regular session in Geneva, Switzerland. Three secularist groups -- the Center for Inquiry, International Humanist and Ethical Union, and British Humanist Association -- have been active at the session, delivering statements and lobbying on issues such as freedom of conscience. CFI's main representative in Geneva is Dr. Elizabeth O'Casey. The following is a report from Ms. O'Casey regarding efforts by CFI and the IHEU to include in a resolution on freedom of religion or belief language referencing non-religious persons.

By Dr. Elizabeth O'Casey

At the end of last week, the European Union (EU), supported by the South American group, tabled a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Now, whilst any resolution that highlights the importance of protecting every individual's right to freedom of religion or belief is always extremely welcome, what is shamefully inadequate about this resolution is that it expressly excludes any concern regarding discrimination and violence against non-believers.

I attended one of the informal consultation meetings on this resolution and argued for 'non-believers' as a category meriting explicit mention within the context of discrimination, particularly given the severity and breadth of such discrimination against non-believers and people of no religion around the world. In a follow-up email, sent on behalf of the Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), we suggested that a mention of non-believers might be included specifically in a paragraph on violence against individuals. Where the original paragraph expressed deep concern at "the increasing number of acts of violence, directed against individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities," we thought it apposite to mention non-believers as amongst such persons.

CFI

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