An urgent appeal to Humanist organizations: support freedom of expression, oppose “defamation of religions”

  • Date / 22 March 2009

In conjunction with Freedom House, UN Watch and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, IHEU is seeking Humanist orgnizations’ support for the statement below, urging all states to reject UN resolutions "combating defamation of religion" – a concept which has no validity in international law. The statement is self explanatory. If your organization is in agreement with the statement, please endorse it on behalf of your organization by emailing me personally at . Please indicate in your reply the full name of your organization (which does not need to be accredited to the UN).

We plan to circulate the statement early next week to delegations at the Human Rights Council, prior to the Council vote on the "defamation of religion" resolution. The deadline for replies is 4pm CET (10am EST) on Tuesday 24 March.

Do not delay! Please add your organization’s voice to this important statement in defence of human rights.

With kind regards

Roy W Brown
IHEU Main Representative, UN Geneva
Immediate Past President of IHEU

Joint NGO Statement on Danger of U.N. “Defamation of Religions” Campaign

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations,

Deeply concerned by the pervasive and mounting campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to produce U.N. resolutions, declarations, and world conferences that propagate the concept of “defamation of religions,” a concept having no basis in domestic or international law, and which would alter the very meaning of human rights, which protect individuals from harm, but not beliefs from critical inquiry;

Deeply concerned by the attempt to misuse the U.N. to legitimize anti-blasphemy laws, thereby restricting freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press;

Deeply concerned that “defamation of religions” resolutions may be used in certain countries to silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters, and other independent voices;

Alarmed by the resolution on “defamation of religions” recently tabled at the current 10th session of the UN Human Rights Council;

Alarmed by the draft resolution on freedom of expression circulated by Egypt, whose amendments seek to restrict, not promote, protections for free speech;

Alarmed by the recently-announced initiative of the U.N. “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to amend the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) by adding a protocol on “defamation of religions”;

Alarmed by provisions in the latest draft outcome document of the Durban Review Conference that, through coded language and veiled references, endorse and encourage these subversive and anti-democratic initiatives;

  1. Call upon all governments to oppose the “defamation of religions” resolution currently tabled at the UN Human Rights Council, and the objectionable provisions of the freedom of expression resolution;
  2. Call upon all governments to resist the efforts of the “Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards” to alter the ICERD;
  3. Call upon all governments not to accept or legitimize a Durban Review Conference outcome that directly or indirectly supports the “defamation of religions” campaign at the expense of basic freedoms and individual human rights.

Initial Signatories:

  • UN Watch
  • International Humanist and Ethical Union
  • Freedom House
  • The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
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