STUDY GUIDE:
Freedom of Religion or Belief

Copyright © 2003 University of Minnesota Human Rights Center.
Permission is granted to use this material for non-commercial purposes. Please use proper attribution.





“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 [her] choice.”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18

 

Introduction
Rights at Stake
International and Regional Instruments of Protection
National Protection and Service Agencies
Advocacy, Educational and Training Materials
Bibliography & Other Resources


I. Introduction

Defining religion or belief

The word “religion,” meaning to bind fast, comes from the Western Latin word religare. It is commonly, but not always, associated with traditional majority, minority or new religious beliefs in a transcendent deity or deities. In human rights discourse, however, the use of the term usually also includes support for the right to non-religious beliefs. In 1993 the Human Rights Committee, an independent body of 18 experts selected through a UN process, described religion or belief as “theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.”

Religions and other beliefs bring hope and consolation to billions of people, and hold great potential for peace and reconciliation. They have also, however, been the source of tension and conflict. This complexity, and the difficulty of defining “religion” and “belief,” are illustrated by the still developing history of the protection of freedom of religion or belief in the context of international human rights.

A complex and contentious issue


The struggle for religious liberty has been ongoing for centuries, and has led to innumerable, tragic conflicts. The twentieth century has seen the codification of common values related to freedom of religion and belief, though the struggle has not abated. The United Nations recognized the importance of freedom of religion or belief in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Universal Declaration), in which Article 18 states that “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 [her] choice.” Since the Universal Declaration, the attempt to develop an enforceable human rights instrument related to freedom of religion and belief has been unsuccessful.

In 1966 the UN passed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, expanding its prior statement to address the manifestation of religion or belief. Article 18 of this Covenant includes four paragraphs related to this issue:


1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [her] choice, and freedom either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his [her] religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his [her] freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [her] choice.
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.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

Some of the articles of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding fundamental freedoms have become international conventions, which are legally binding treaties. In contrast, however, because of the complexity of the topic and the political issues involved, Article 18 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has not been elaborated and codified in the same way that more detailed treaties have codified prohibitions against torture, discrimination against women, and race discrimination. After twenty years of debate, intense struggle and hard work, the General Assembly in 1981 adopted without a vote the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. While the 1981 Declaration lacks any enforcement procedures, it remains the most important contemporary codification of the principle of freedom of religion and belief.

Historical Dates

1948 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18

1966 – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), Article 18

1981 – Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

1993 – Human Rights Committee’s General Comment Number 22 on Article 18 of Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

II. Rights at Stake

The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief contains eight articles, three of which (1,5,6) define specific rights. The remaining articles act in a supportive role by outlining measures to promote tolerance or prevent discrimination. Taken together, the eight articles constitute a paradigm, an overall concept, to advocate for tolerance and to prevent discrimination based on religion or belief. While human rights are individual rights, the 1981 UN Declaration also identifies certain rights related to states, religious institutions, parents, legal guardians, children, and groups of persons.

Article 1: Legal Definition.
This article repeats several rights from the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’s Article 18:
· Right to thought, conscience, and religion or belief;
· Right to have a religion or whatever belief of your choice;
· Right either individually or in community with others, in private or public, to manifest a religion or belief through worship, observance, practice and teaching;
· Right not to suffer coercion that impairs the freedom to choose a religion or belief;
· Right of the State to limit the manifestation of a religion or belief if based in law, and only as necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals and the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 2: Classification of Discrimination.
This article identifies categories of potential discriminators, affirming the right not to be subject to discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief by:
· States (national, regional, local government);
· Institutions (governmental, non?governmental, religious);
· Groups of persons;
· Persons.

Article 3: Link to Other Rights.
This article links the 1981 UN Declaration to other international documents. Article 3 declares that discrimination based on religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and shall be condemned as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and enunciated in detail in:
· The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
· The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Article 4: Possible Solutions.
Article 4 declares that all States [including all sectors of civil society] shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination based on religion or belief through:
· Actions in all fields of civil, economic, political, social, cultural life;
· Enacting or rescinding legislation where necessary to prohibit such discrimination;
· Taking all appropriate measures to combat intolerance based on religion or belief.

Article 5: Parents, Guardians, Children.
At stake in the implementation of this article are the following rights:
· Right of parents or legal guardians to bring the child up in their religion or belief;
· Right of the child to education in religion or belief, in accordance with the wishes of parents, and the right not to be compelled to receive education against their wishes;
· Right of the child to protection from discrimination and to education for tolerance;
· Right of the child’s wishes when not under the care of parents or legal guardians;
· Right of the State to limit practices injurious to child's development or health.

Article 6: Manifesting Religion or Belief.
At stake in the implementation of this article are the following rights:
· Right to worship and assemble, and to establish and maintain places of worship;
· Right to establish and maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions;
· Right to make, acquire and use materials related to rites and customs;
· Right to write, issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas;
· Right to teach a religion or belief in places suitable for these purposes;
· Right to solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions;
· Right to train, appoint, elect or designate appropriate leaders;
· Right to observe days of rest and celebrate holidays and ceremonies;
· Right to establish and maintain communication with individuals and communities at national and international levels.

Article 7: National Legislation.
This article declares that all of the rights at stake in the 1981 UN Declaration need to be accorded in national legislation in such a manner that everyone shall be able to avail themselves of such rights and freedoms in practice.

Article 8: Existing Protections.
This article specifies that the 1981 UN Declaration is non-binding on States so as to ensure that the Declaration does not negate existing legal protections on freedom of religion or belief. Article 8 states that nothing in the Declaration shall be construed as restricting or negating any right defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenants on Human Rights.

The 1981 UN Declaration is a compromise between states after twenty years of complex discussion and debate, and after final passage by the General Assembly. Several sensitive issues are still in need of further clarification, including:
· religious or national law versus international law,
· proselytism,
· conscientious objection to military service,
· status of women in religion or belief,
· claims of superiority or inferiority of religions and beliefs,
· choosing and changing a religious commitment,
· religious registration and association laws,
· public media and religion or belief, and the relationship of religion or belief to the state.


III. International and Regional Instruments of Protection

International legal instruments take the form of a treaty (also called an agreement, convention, covenant or protocol), which may be binding on the contracting states. When negotiations are completed, the text of a treaty is established as authentic and definitive and is signed by the representatives of states. There are various means by which a state expresses its consent to be bound by a treaty, with the most common being ratification or accession. A new treaty is ratified by those states that have negotiated the instrument, while a state that has not participated in the negotiations may, at a later stage, accede to the treaty. The treaty enters into force when a pre-determined number of states have ratified or acceded to the treaty.

When a state ratifies or accedes to a treaty, that state may make reservations to one or more articles of the treaty, unless the treaty prohibits this actions. Reservations are exceptions that a state makes to a treaty—provisions that it does not agree to follow—and may normally be withdrawn at any time. In some countries, international treaties take precedence over national law. In others, a specific law may be required to give an international treaty, although ratified or acceded to, the force of law. Almost all states that have ratified or acceded to an international treaty may issue decrees, amend existing laws or introduce new legislation in order for the treaty to be fully effective on the national territory.

While the 1981 Declaration was adopted as a non-binding human rights instrument, several states had reservations. Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and the then U.S.S.R. said that the 1981 UN Declaration did not take sufficient account of atheistic beliefs. Romania, Syria, Czechoslovakia, and the U.S.S.R. made a general reservation regarding provisions not in accordance with their national legislation. Iraq entered a collective reservation on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference as to the applicability of any provision or wording in the Declaration which might be contrary to Shari'a (Islamic) law or to legislation or acts based on Islamic law, and Syria and Iran endorsed this reservation.

How widespread are violations of freedom of religion or belief?*

UN Special Rapporteurs Reported Violations 1999-2001:

1999: 46 states
2000: 55 states
2001: 52 states

Reported violations in 2001: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Burundi, Chad, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt,
Eritrea, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia,
Lebanon, FYR Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam and Yemen.


* Data from the UN's For the Record 1999-2001.

Monitoring freedom of religion or belief

Many international treaties have a mechanism to monitor their implementation. As part of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18 is legally-binding and is monitored by the Human Rights Committee. As of 2002, there were 149 States Parties to this Covenant. Under an Optional Protocol, 102 States Parties recognize the authority of the Human Rights Committee to consider confidential communications from individuals claiming to be victims of violations of any rights proclaimed under the treaty.


The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief is a non-binding declaration, and does not, therefore, have a treaty mechanism. Instead, in what is called an extra-conventional mechanism, the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur (an independent expert) for the 1981 UN Declaration. The Special Rapporteur is mandated to report annually to the Commission on the status of freedom of religion or belief worldwide.

Selected human rights instruments with references to religion or belief include the following:

UNITED NATIONS
United Nations Charter (1945)
Articles 1,13,55: The Charter of the United Nations in these articles uses the phrase “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Articles 18, 26: Article 18 is one of the subjects of this study guide. Article 26 refers to education to “promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations, racial or religious groups.”

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)
Article 2: This article defines genocide as any act “with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951)
Article 4: Refers to refugees being accorded the same rights as nationals “with respect to freedom to practice their religion and freedom as regards the religious education of their children.”

Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954)
Articles 3, 4: Contains the same language, with respect to religion or belief, as found in the Charter of the United Nations and the Convention on the Status of Refugees.

Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960)
Articles 1, 2, 5: These articles state that the establishment or maintenance of separate educational institutions for religious reasons is not discriminatory, if it is in keeping with the wishes of parents or legal guardians, and providing that these institutions conform to educational standards developed by competent authorities, and are directed to the full development of the human personality and to strengthening respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)
Article 5: This article declares that full compliance with this convention includes the right to freedom of religion or belief for all racial and ethnic groups, along with other fundamental rights and freedoms.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) (1966)
Articles 18, 26: Article 18 is part of this legal treaty and the subject of this study. Article 26 guarantees everyone the right to education for the full development of human personality and respect for human rights by promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations, racial and religious groups.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
Article 13: This article ensures the religious and moral education of children in conformity with the wishes of parents or legal guardians, and uses the phrase “full development of human personality and respect for human rights” found in other human rights instruments.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)
Article 16: This article deals with women’s rights in the context of family relations. Several Muslim states have reservations to this article due to perceived conflicts with national laws and shari’a law. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has refuted reservations to Article 16, and has several recommendations regarding conflicts between obligations to the Convention and traditional religious or cultural practices. The Committee calls on States to eradicate such religious?based practices as forced marriage, dowry deaths, and female circumcision.

Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (1981)
Articles 1, 8: This 1981 UN Declaration is the principal subject of this study guide. For an explanation of each article refer back to section ll: Rights at Stake.

Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
Article 14: This article identifies the rights of the child to freedom of religion or belief. It differs from article 5 of the 1981 UN Declaration in that it respects the rights and duties of parents or legal guardians, but places an emphasis on providing direction in a manner consistent with the “evolving” capacity of the child, and calls on states to limit practices of religions or beliefs that may be injurious to the child, as elaborated in Article 18, paragraph 3 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. A child is defined as anyone below the age of 18 years.

General Comment Number 22 on Article 18 (1993)
Paragraphs 1, 11: As guidance for States Parties who have signed and ratified the treaty and are obligated to submit periodic reports on implementation, the Human Rights Committee has written an eleven paragraph comment on the meaning of Article 18 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1994)
Articles 12, 13: These articles claim the rights of indigenous peoples to restitution of religious and spiritual property taken without their consent, to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, and to ensure that indigenous sacred sites, including burial sites, be preserved.


COUNCIL OF EUROPE

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950)
Article 9: This article repeats Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A Protocol, signed in 1950 by members of the Council of Europe, respects the rights of parents to educate children in their own religious and philosophical convictions.

Participating States of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (1989)
Principles 16,17: Thirty-five participating states released a Concluding Document, Principles 16 and 17 of which are re-written versions of Article 18 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1981 UN Declaration. These principles call for dialogue and consultation between OSCE and members of religious faiths and institutions.

ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES (OAS)
American Convention on Human Rights (1969)

Article 12: This article repeats the four paragraphs of Article 18 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

AFRICAN UNION (formerly ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY, OAU)
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (1981)

Articles 8: Adopted by the Organization of African Unity, the article states that “freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.”

THE ARAB LEAGUE
Universal Islamic Declaration on Human Rights (1981)
Articles 12 and 13 outline the right to freedom of religion with the limits of Shari’a Law.

Arab Charter on Human Rights (1994)
Articles 26 and 27 address freedom of religion and belief. The Arab League was established in 1945. It has 22 members: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

International Labor Organization
The International Labour Organization, founded in 1919, is the UN specialized agency that seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights. While several of the conventions it ratified after World War II include provisions pertaining to freedom of religion or belief, no specific convention addresses this freedom.


IV. National Protection and Service Agencies

More than 25 UN member states have national protection or service agencies to monitor legally binding human rights treaties or non-binding human rights declarations. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also is working to create National Institutes of Human Rights, as called for by the Paris Principles and endorsed by the General Assembly in 1993 (Resolution 48/134).

Contacting these national human rights institutes and commissions is the best way to get information on how the 1981 UN Declaration affords protection of the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief. Street and email addresses may be obtained through the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights at http://www.unhchr.ch. In addition to the entities listed below, as of 2002 the UN is working with several other countries to establish similar human rights institutes and/or commissions.


National Human Rights Institutes and Commissions (2002)

Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Canadian Human Rights Commission, Danish Centre for Human Rights, Defensor del Pueblo of Ecuador, Fiji Human Rights Commission, Public Defender of Georgia, Ombudsman of Guyana, Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission, Jamaican Public Defender, Latvian Human Rights Office, Human Rights Commission of Indonesia, Human Rights Commission of Malawi, Malaysian Human Rights Commission, Mexican Human Rights Commission, Moldovan Human Rights Centre, Mongolian Human Rights Commission, Conseil consultaif des droits de l’homme of Morocco, Human Rights Commission of Nepal, New Zealand Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Human Rights Commission, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Commission of Rwanda, South African Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Ugandan Human Rights Commission and Zambian Human Rights Commission.

All states have government ministries and departments for matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. They located primarily in Ministries of Justice, Education, Culture, or, for international human rights treaties, Foreign Affairs. Some states have religious affairs councils or civil rights departments to service the needs and monitor the legal protection of citizens and non-citizens at national, regional and local levels. These entities often have relationships with non-governmental human rights or religious organizations that monitor the activities of government in matters relating to religion or belief. States may supply a list of these government departments and non-governmental organizations through their public information offices.


V. Advocacy, Educational and Training Materials

To address the need for more educational materials related to freedom of religion and belief, in 2001 the UN and Spain hosted the International Consultative Conference on School Education in Relation to Freedom of Religion or Belief, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination. The purpose of the conference was to develop a strategy for writing textbooks, curricula, media, and training materials on freedom of religion and belief. Some materials will be available in 2003.

Resources for advocates

For the Record 2001 - Religious Intolerance: Report of the Special Rapporteur (SR) on religious intolerance.
Identifies incidents and government actions that are inconsistent with provisions in the Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

Report to the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Freedom of Religion
Published by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Presents the Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom describing the status of religious freedom in each foreign country, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world.

The Rutherford Institute
Topic briefs regarding religious freedom and other civil liberties concerns.

Human Rights Without Frontiers
Compilations of news stories by country regarding freedom of religion or belief.

Institute for Jewish Policy Research
An online country-by-country examination of the manifestations of racism, xenophobia and, especially, anti-Semitism, against a backdrop of the more general social and political contexts in which such manifestations occur.

International Coalition for Religious Freedom World Report
The International Coalition for Religious Freedom is a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of all people, regardless of creed, gender or ethnic origin. It currently receives the bulk of its funding from institutions and individuals related to the Unification Church community.

Religious Freedom in the Majority of Islamic Cultures: 1998 Report

Report by a Catholic organization tracking religious intolerance in Muslim nations.

United States Policies in Support of Religious Freedom: Focus on Christians.
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Affairs, July 22, 1997.

Amnesty International USA Interfaith Network
Amnesty USA’s interfaith network supports activists of all faiths who are on the front line of the struggle for human rights.

International Religious Liberty Association
This group, founded by Seventh Day Adventists, is dedicated to defending and safeguarding the civil right of all people to worship, to adopt a religion or belief of their choice, and to manifest their religious convictions in observance, promulgation, and teaching, subject only to the respect for the equivalent rights of others.

International Association for Religious Freedom
IARF is an active NGO at the UN committed to support for Article 18.

Keston Institute
Monitors freedom of religion and researches religious affairs in communist and post-communist countries.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
This site currently is under construction in large but resources related to Arab world will continue to appear and contact information for the Cairo Institute is available.

Resources for clergy
Parliament of the World's Religions

Talking Points for Use in Local Worship Services
Published by the Human Rights Resource Center, the talking points are meant to help to preachers, teachers, religious leaders, prayer leaders, and any one who may want to engage their faith community in a discussion about the values of human rights and religion.

The World Council of Churches
In a 1948 conference in Amsterdam this group published a Declaration on Religious Liberty.

Resources for teachers

Council for Secular Humanism
The Council for Secular Humanism cultivates rational inquiry, ethical values, and human development through the advancement of secular humanism. To carry out its mission the Council for Secular Humanism sponsors publications, programs, and organizes meetings and other group activities.

International Humanist and Ethical Union
The IHEU is an international NGO in special consultative status with the U.N. (New York, Geneva, Vienna) and the Council of Europe (Strasbourg), and seeks to represent the human-centered views of its 100 member organizations in 37 countries.. It is one of 40 NGOs given authority by the Council of Europe to lodge complaints against States violating the European Social Charter. Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry.

ABC, teaching human rights: Practical activities for primary and secondary schools

Published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Chapter 3 contains a discussion about freedom of religion and belief as well as suggested activities.

AntiDefamation League’s A World of Difference

A curriculum focused on combating anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism.

CyberSchoolBus, Interactive Declaration, Article 18

This UN hosted site provides an explanation of each Universal Declaration article with definitions, plain language and activities to help students understand and interpret the language of this critical UN document.

Human Rights Education Handbook
In this handbook, published by the Human Rights Resource Center, activities 12, 19, and 21 are designed to facilitate discussion about general human rights issues, but can easily be adapted to focus on freedom of religion or belief.

Raising Children with Roots, Rights and Responsibilities
Published by the Human Rights Resource Center. Sessions 3 and 11 relate to freedom of religion and belief. This curriculum is best suited for children ages three to six, their parents and educators.

Teaching Tolerance
Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center, this website provides online curricula and activities related to hate-crimes, racial intolerance, and discrimination.

UNICEF Voices of Youth: The Teacher's Place
Information and discussion about general human rights education.

UNHCHR Database on Human Rights Education
Provides information on organizations, materials and programs for human rights education. The database is a contribution to the UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) and aims to facilitate sharing of the many resources available in the area of human rights education and training.

Academic resources


Journal of Law and Religion, Hamline University Law School
An international, interdisciplinary forum committed to studying law in its social context, including moral and religious views of law and life.

MOST Clearinghouse on Religious Rights
Through interdisciplinary, comparative, and culturally sensitive research, UNESCO’s MOST Programme aims at furnishing information useful for the peaceful and democratic management of societies characterized by ethnic, religious and linguistic pluralism.

Religious Freedom Page - Nation Profiles
Developed at the University of Virginia, this site examines the status of religious freedom around the world. A common format makes possible a quick overview of the materials available for any given country.

Religion and Law Research Consortium
A collaboration of international academic centers related to law and religion, provides a search engine for judicial decisions, statutes, and academic analyses and treatises.

Société, Droit et Religion en Europe (SDRE) - l'Université Robert Schuman

The Religion Case Reporter
Reports judicial opinions addressing the free exercise of religion, state establishment of religion, and the clergy and religious institutions; provides comprehensive and easily accessed information concerning any topic affected by religious practice or status.

Other religion, belief, and human rights links

Center for Study on New Religions

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

International Christian Concern

L'Aumisme Religion Universelle de l'Unite des Visages de DIEU

Orthodox Christian Mission Center

Osservatorio delle Libertà ed Istituzioni Religiose

Soka Gakkai International

The Bahá'í International Community and the United Nations

The Religious Society of Friends

Thirdway Cafe: Mennonite Media

Voices of the Martyrs


VI. Bibliography and Additional Resources


Bibiography

Amnesty International. Greece, 5,000 Years of Prison: Conscientious Objectors in Greece (Amnesty International Publications 1993).

O Andrysek. Non-Believers: A New Aspect of Religious Intolerance?, 2 Conscience & Liberty 15 No.2 (1990).

Elizabeth Odio Benito, Study of the Current Dimensions of the Problems of Intolerance and Discrimination on Grounds of Religion or Belief, E/CN.4/Sub.2/87/26 (United Nations 1987).

Cole Durham, Freedom of Religion or Belief: Laws Affecting The Structuring of Religious Communities, (paper prepared for the 1999 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Review Conference, Vienna, 1999).

J. Abraham Frowein, Freedom of Religion in the Practice of the European Commission and Court of Human Rights (ZAORV 249 1986).

Glen Johnson & Symonides Janusz, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNESCO Publishing 1998).

N. Koshy, Religious Freedom In A Changing World (World Council of Churches 1992).

Arcot Krishnaswami, Study of Discrimination in the Matter of Religious Rights and Practices, E/CN.4/Sub.2/200/Rev.1 (United Nations 1960).

Nate Lerner, Group Rights and Discrimination in International Law (Martinus Nijhoff 1991).

Tore Lindholm & Kari Vogt, Islamic Law Reform and Human Rights Challenges and Rejoinders (Nordic Publications 1993).

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights & International Service for Human Rights, The UN Commission on Human Rights, Its Sub-Commission, and Related Procedures: An Orientation Manual (Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights 1993).

Donna J. Sullivan, Gender Equality and Religious Freedom: Toward a Framework for Conflict Resolution, 24 N.Y.U. J . Int'l L. & Pol. 795 (1992).

Leonard Swidler & Paul Mojzes, Attitudes of Religions and Ideologies Toward the Outsider (Edwin Mellen Press 1990).

Bahiyyah G. Tahzib, Freedom of Religion or Belief: Ensuring Effective International Legal Protection (Kluwer Law International 1996).

Theo van Boven, Advances and Obstacles in Building Understanding and Respect Between People of Diverse Religions or Beliefs, 13 Human Rights Quarterly (1991).

J.A Walkate, The Right of Everyone to Change His Religion or Belief: Some Observations, Netherlands Int'l L. Rev., 146 (1983).

John Witte Jr. & Johan D. van der Vyver, Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective (Martinus Nijhoff 1996).


Additional resources (not available electronically)


CONGO Committees on Freedom of Religion or Belief
In 1991 and 1992 two committees comprised of non-governmental organizations were formed at the United Nations in New York and Geneva to support Article 18 and the 1981 UN Declaration. They function as part of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO), have consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and are composed of representatives of human rights and religious groups. Their purpose is to coordinate activities of NGO’s in the areas of promotion and protection of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.

The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief
In 1998, representatives of UN governmental and non-governmental organizations and of many religions or beliefs met in Oslo, Norway to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Oslo Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief adopted a declaration that led to the formation of The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, an international coalition dedicated to achieving substantial progress and practical support for implementation of Article 18 and the 1981 UN Declaration. A handbook on these purposes has been published in cooperation with the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights.

European Court of Human Rights
Article 9 of the 1950 European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms contains key provisions on freedom of religion or belief, and uses language closely paralleling that of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights (Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). The European Court of Human Rights, established in 1998 under the European Union, obtains Human Rights Documentation on cases relating to freedom of religion or belief in the European region.

Office for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw, Poland oversees OSCE programs on human rights and freedom of religion or belief. In 2000, under the auspices of ODIHR, an Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief was organized. Several ODIHR projects for 2002, including advisory panel activities, focus on the role of religion and laws on religion in Central and Eastern Europe and CIS countries. They are clearly committed to inclusive principles of freedom of religion or belief, but struggle at times to include non?religious beliefs in their programs.

Freedom of Religion and Belief: A World Report
In 1997 the University of Essex produced a World Report on Freedom of Religion or Belief (Routledge, London). The report, edited by Kevin Boyle and Juliet Sheen, is a study on freedom of religion and secular thought in over fifty countries of the world, and consists of short entries on each country. Entries are divided by region and introduced by a regional overview; themes include the relationships between belief groups and the state, freedom of manifest belief in law and practice, religion and schools, religious minorities, new religious movements, the impact of beliefs on the status of women, and conscientious objection to military service. The countries included in the report reflect a world geographical distribution and diversity of religious traditions.

Freedom of Religion or Belief: Laws Affecting the Structuring of Religious Communities
This is one of a series of papers prepared under the auspices of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE for the benefit of participants at the 1999 OSCE Review Conference. It summarizes international standards protecting freedom of religion or belief, regional decisions by the European Court of Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief, and relevant OSCE provisions relating to freedom of association and entity status of religious organizations. Much of the second section of the paper relates to Principle 16 of the Vienna Concluding Document, which recognizes the right to certain manifestations of religion or belief as recognized in Article 6 of the 1981 UN Declaration.

Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective
This series, published in 1996, includes one volume on legal perspectives and a second on religious perspectives. It consists of chapters by fifty authors on the religious human rights of most of the majority and minority religions of the world, and includes case studies. It is edited by John Witte Jr. and Johan Van der Vyver of Emory University, with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Religion and Human Rights: Toward and Understanding of Tolerance and Reconciliation
This small pamphlet contains two lectures by David Chidester of the University of Cape Town, South Africa and David Little of Harvard Divinity School, Boston, MA, USA. It examines the principle of tolerance in international human rights instruments used to promote freedom of religion or belief, and looks at tools of reconciliation used to cope with the division, conflict and suffering in South Africa.

Religion and Human Rights: Basic Documents

The Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University in New York has assembled basic documents on the human rights paradigm of freedom of religion or belief, and the religious paradigm of religious liberty. These documents include:

1. United States of America: Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)

Adopted by the Virginia Legislature, and still the law of the state of Virginia; based on Thomas Jefferson’s religious freedom bill. The Supreme Court of the United States has looked to this and other historical documents to determine cases based on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, A Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

2. World Council of Churches: Declaration on Religious Liberty (1948)
Adopted in Amsterdam at the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches, a few months prior to adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It affirms that religious freedom is everywhere secured, and that Christians may not enjoy privileges that are denied to people of other religions or beliefs.

3. Declaration on Religious Freedom: Dignitatis Humanae (1965)
A declaration on religious freedom for the Catholic Church, adopted by the Second Vatican Council:. The first paragraph claims that the one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church. The title of “human dignity,” however, is extended to all members of the human family and to freedom of conscience without coercion. The title is close to the phrasing of the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – “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.”

4. Spain: Religious Liberty Law (1980)
Enacted by the Parliament of Spain. Declares that no faith shall be the official State religion, and that rights deriving from freedom of worship and religion shall not be to the detriment of the rights of others. Grants religions legal status, and creates, in the Ministry of Justice, an Advisory Committee on Freedom of Worship.

5. People’s Republic of China: Document 19 (1982)
Issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Defines the position of the Party regarding religion, discusses religion as a historical phenomenon, and states that Communists are atheists and must propagate atheism.

6. The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (1990)
Adopted by the Foreign Ministers of the 55 state Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), formed in 1972. Membership is restricted to states in which Islam is the official state religion or Muslims form the majority population. There are 25 articles to the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam on topics such as freedom of movement, work, education, burial, usury, property, environment, equality before the law, and freedom of expression. Article 24 declares that “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to Islamic Shari’a,” and article 25 states that “The Islamic Shari’a is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.”

7. Israel: Fundamental Agreement Between the Holy See and the State of Israel (1993)
Signed by the State of Israel and the Holy See. This agreement established full diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See, including an exchange of Ambassadors. The Holy See, recalling its Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae), affirms its commitment to uphold the right to freedom of religion and conscience, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Acknowledgements

This guide was developed by Michael Roan, at the Tandem Project. Laura Young, Kristi Rudelius-Palmer and David Weissbrodt (University of Minnesota Human Rights Center) and Susan Everson revised and edited this document. Special thanks to Charmaine Crockett, Barbara Forster, Alaa Kaoud, Mohamed Elgadi, and Fatma Reda for expert commentary and input. Copyright, Human Rights Center, 2003.

 

 


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