IHEU attacks plans for a “Sharia-based” human rights organisation

  • Date / 22 September 2009

In a speech to the Human Rights Council today (22 September 2009) IHEU main representative Roy Brown attacked plans annnounced earlier this year by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to create an “independent, permanent body” to promote human rights in its member states based on the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam”. IHEU urged the Human Rights Council and the international community to withhold recognition from “any human rights organisation that fails to recognise either the Universal Declaration or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The full text of the IHEU statement is given below:

International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 12th Session (14 Sept – 2 October 2009)
Speaker: IHEU Representative, Roy W Brown: 22 September 2009
Agenda Item 3: Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

Threats to Universal Human Rights

Thank you, Mr President,

We wish to raise again the issue of threats to the universality of Human Rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration, the ICCPR and the ICESCR.

Regional variants to the universal instruments do exist and many have been accepted by the UN and published by the High Commission, in 1997 and again in 2002, in Human Rights: A Compilation of International Instruments. Such regional instruments include the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights.

A problem arises however when so-called regional instruments are not variants of, or supplementary to, the universal instruments but bear no relationship to them. One such is the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam[1], adopted by the foreign ministers of the OIC in 1990, and published by the UN as one of the regional instrument in 1997. This declaration was given a new lease of life by the announcement by the OIC Summit in Mecca in December 2005 of plans to create “an independent permanent body to promote human rights in the member states, in accordance with the provisions of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.”[2] This decision was confirmed by the OIC Conference of Foreign Ministers in May this year.[3]

But the Cairo Declaration makes no reference to the Universal Declaration or the ICCPR, and declares that “The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration”. The proposed organisation therefore undermines the very concept of the universality of human rights.

Surely Mr President no human rights organization that fails to recognize either the Universal Declaration or the ICCPR should be accorded recognition by this Council, or the international community.

Thank you sir

[1] http://www.religlaw.org/interdocs/docs/cairohrislam1990.htm

[2] http://www.saudiembassy.net/archive/2005/statements/page4.aspx

[3] http://www.oic-oci.org/36cfm/w/en/res/36CFM-LEG-RES-FINAL.pdf

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