IHEU discusses freedom of speech with UK Foreign Office

  • Date / 16 March 2009

IHEU met top officials at the UK Foreign Office in London on 12 March 2009. IHEU requested the meeting to discuss concerns about the effectiveness of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), to explore recent challenges to freedom of expression and to assess what best can be done to improve the protection and promotion of Human Rights.

Keith Porteous Wood represented IHEU at the meeting, which was set up following a discussion he had had with Lord (Mark) Malloch Brown, former Assistant Secretary General of the UN and now a UK Foreign Office minister. Keith Porteous Wood is on IHEU’s UNHRC team and is also Executive Director of the (UK) National Secular Society. Accompanying Keith was a MP who is on the Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees the work of the Department for the UK Parliament. Roy Brown was unable to attend as he was representing IHEU at the UNHRC in Geneva.

IHEU’s analysis of the complex and evolving problems at the UNHRC was accepted by the officials. The analysis is contained in a detailed submission, compiled by Keith Porteous Wood with assistance from Roy Brown. Tribute was also paid to IHEU’s work in Geneva and its success in publicising the problems in this area far and wide.

We were very pleased that the UK Government confirmed its opposition to world-wide “defamation of religion” legislation, something Muslim nations are applying ever-increasing pressure to introduce.

Another welcome product of the meeting was information and ideas that will help IHEU in its future work in this important area.

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