Saturday, March 31, 2007

The UN Censorship Council

The UN Human Rights Council was created in 2006 as a replacement for the thoroughly discredited UN Commission on Human Rights. The commission regularly refused to condemn blatant human rights violations by various dictatorships, which is largely explained by the fact that dictatorial regimes made up a major part of the commission's membership. The new Human Rights Council was supposed to change things for the better. Sadly, the more things change...

The council's current session provides a case in point. First the group decided to refrain from examining the dismal human rights records of Iran and Uzbekistan. Then, the council passed a resolution on the situation in Darfur that refused to blame the Sudanese regime for instigating the genocide in that region.

Finally, to top things off, the Human Rights Council decided to come out in favor of censorship. According to the Associated Press:

Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion, a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

The statement proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference addressed what it called a "campaign" against Muslim minorities and the Islamic religion around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The resolution, which was opposed by European and a number of other non-Muslim countries, "expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations."

It makes no mention of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism or any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries "to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence."

In other words, a majority of the member states on the UN Human Rights Council support limiting free expression. This is not encouraging.


Anonymous professor ed said...

I agree that this result is definitely NOT encouraging. Good thing we can rest assured that ALA is keeping a close eye on this sort of counter-productivity :-)

11:24 AM  

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