OIC takes fight against freedom of speech to the UN

The Durban Review Conference a.k.a. Durban II may not have created many headlines outside the blogosphere and NGO web-sites yet but represents in fact one of the most important battlegrounds in the ongoing facedown between Western style democracy and freedom on one side and Islam plus various other kinds of fascism on the other. This time the Islamists have hijacked the UN to further their cause.

Previous optimism by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) was most likely premature. On the 25th of November 2008 the UN General Assembly passed (85 votes in favour to 50 against, with 42 abstentions) a (document A/C.3/63/L.22/Rev.1) a draft resolution on combating defamation of religions, which will form the basis of the votes at the Durban II conference in April 2009.

Quotes from the draft resolution:

Stressing that defamation of religions is a serious affront to human dignity leading to the restriction of the freedom of religion of their adherents and incitement to religious hatred and violence,

Stressing also the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular,

Following the lack of tangible success from the use of violence in the recent Mohammed cartoon crisis the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) vowed to take the legal path instead. The problem, from their point of view, is that the Declaration of Human Rights protects humans and not ideas, ideologies or religions as such. Any attempt to launch a case at the European Court of Human Rights against publishers of cartoons or other material deemed offensive to the mullahs would therefore fail blatantly. Not content with having from time to time to accept criticism the OIC then decided to change the human rights and protect religious followers from such insolence as people actually disagreeing with them

The vehicle for this campaign is Durban II.

The title of the draft resolution being prepared for the conference is “Combating defamation of religions” and the aim is to limit freedom of speech when it comes to criticism of religion. The Durban Review Conference is nominally aimed at combating racism but the preparatory committee, chaired by Libya and dominated by Iran, Syria and Egypt, insists on squeezing criticism of religion into this category and thereby equating it with racism.

That is of course totally unacceptable, illogical and, not to speak of, harmful to the progress of humanity against ignorance and tyranny.

Looking at the voting patterns in the UN this nonsense agenda looks, however, dead set on being approved by a majority come April 2009 when Durban II is held in Geneva, Switzerland. The city of Durban, South Africa, turned down the offer of holding the review conference because the first conference had turned into such an enormous Jew-bashing hate fest. Not surprisingly Israel has already announced that it will boycott Durban II.

Most likely influenced by the findings of these government sponsored reports: Canada and the United Nations Human Rights Council: A Time for Serious Re-Evaluation and Canada and the United Nations Human Rights Council – At the Crossroads, Canada has also opted to boycott Durban II.

Strong voices in the Danish debate have tried to make the foreign minister do the same. By attending the meetings he risks legitimating a process and a decision that goes against all the Denmark stands for. On the other hand, by not going he surrenders the process completely to the forces working against Western civilisation. Danish foreign minister Per Stig Møller (cons.) has for the time being opted for a more idealistic road than the Canadians and decided to attend the preparatory meetings to at least attempt to let his voice weigh in on the side of reason. Importantly, he has kept the door open for a chance to leave the proceedings if they begin to appear hopeless.

Reading the above Canadian reports that foreign ministerial ‘if’ is more accurately a ‘when’ the proceedings begin to appear hopeless. Here are a few quotes from the reports:

Witnesses stated that since the Human Rights Council first met, these three overlapping groupings of states (the League of Arab States, the Non-Aligned Movement and the OIC) have worked together to sponsor and adopt resolutions serving their interests – often in direct opposition to Canada and other like-minded countries. Vote after vote can be traced with a pattern of 33 to 12 or 34 to 11, with Canada voting against the resolution. Paul Heinbecker noted that the voting patterns can to some extent be explained by the OIC, Non-Aligned Movement, and Arab League’s perception of a struggle against the hegemonic developed world. He said that there is a solidarity that people will maintain, even in the face of that which is manifestly not in their interest or even manifestly wrong. The larger value, for a lot of countries, is to stick together because they feel weak and powerless. They largely are, but… they seem to feel that if they can stick together, they at least have some kind of clout vis-à-vis the United States and the other powerful countries.

The Committee is concerned that, faced with these bloc politics, there is little that human rights defenders such as Canada can currently do on the Human Rights Council. The Western Europe and other states group of members is effectively outnumbered. Government officials noted that Canada is missing many of its natural allies on the Council, such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.“

A report by the European Council on Foreign Relations comes to the same conclusion: EU and the West are loosing the votes in not only the UN Human Rights council but the UN as a whole:

“In the 1990s, the EU enjoyed up to 72% support on human rights issues in the UN General Assembly. In the last two Assembly sessions, the comparable percentages have been 48 and 55%. This decline is overshadowed by a leap in support for Chinese positions in the same votes from under 50% in the later 1990s to 74% in 2007-8. Russia has enjoyed a comparable leap in support. The trend away from the Europeans is markedly worse on the new Human Rights Council (HRC) where EU positions have been defeated in over half the votes.”

“(EU) has also suffered a rift with the 56 members of the OIC and there are now only three Muslim-majority states among the EU’s human rights allies (Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey). This reflects not only disputes over the Middle East, but a fundamental clash over cultural and religious values.”

“The EU’s diminishing influence over the last decade is all the more surprising given the amount of money that it invests in multilateral processes, and its strong representation within the UN system. EU states finance the lion’s share of the UN budget and are collectively the world’s biggest aid donor, committed to disbursing $80 billion a year by 2010. The fact that the EU holds four or five seats on the Security Council at any given time should be another source of leverage.”

At the meeting in the General Assembly 25th of November where the draft resolution on Combating Defamation of Religion was passed, France speaking on behalf of EU said it “was necessary to make distinctions between incitement to religious hatred and the right to discuss or criticize religion, adding that only the former should be forbidden. He noted that the recent report of the Special Rapporteur on racism and related intolerance had recommended dealing with the concept of defamation of religion through the establishment of legal norms to combat the incitement to religious hatred. There was no need for additional norms on the question. In situations where fundamental rights were in conflict, only courts could establish the limits. That question could not be tackled in the political field, but in the legal field. He also could not accept the idea of defamation of religion being integrated into the human rights framework. International human rights law should be aimed at protecting people in exercising their freedom of religion, not in protecting religions, as such. He believed the resolution could be used to justify arbitrary decisions against religious minorities, for instance, by not allowing them to exercise their right to religion or belief. He could not support the resolution and would vote against it.

The representative of the United Statescalled on all Member States to reaffirm their belief in the freedom of expression and to call into account those that misused General Assembly resolutions to harass individuals who were seeking to express their opinions and beliefs. He also objected to the text’s way of conflating racism and racial discrimination. The language appeared to suggest that, like race, one’s religion was a characteristic that one could not change, which was in direct conflict to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration, which said that individuals had a right to change and choose their religion, and to manifest their beliefs through its teaching, practice and observance, or to choose not to practice a religion at all. It was unhelpful and incorrect to suggest that race and religion were the same. He would vote no on the draft.

The draft was then approved.