Advocacy statements

Minority rights and criticism of religious nationalism

  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights


Humanists International

52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February – 4 April 2023)

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report and his review and assessment of the implementation of the Declaration on Minority Rights since its adoption 30 years ago. We echo the sentiment that the world is falling far short in terms of protecting the rights of minorities.

In every region we see examples of extreme suppression of minorities by governments who dehumanize and exclude them, and who seek to maintain power by fostering division, and fear of minorities.

We also continue to see the promulgation of religious- and ethno-nationalism to build exclusionary identities and discriminatory narratives, used for the othering of minorities and denying their right to express their individual identity and beliefs.

A few examples: right-wing populist governments weaponizing conservative Christian values to legitimize hate towards non-Christian migrants, and other minorities; Hindu nationalists committing violence and hate crimes against Muslims, rationalists, and Dalits; Muslim fundamentalists imprisoning and persecuting Christian, Baháʼí, Ahmadi, and humanist minorities; or Buddhist nationalists committing crimes against humanity against Rohingya Muslims.

By way of backdrop to this, is the increasing political hostility to the very human right system designed to protect minorities and the most vulnerable. Authoritarian, populist and fundamentalist regimes and governments are fuelling a corrosive narrative that presents majority traditional values and sovereignty as being under attack from the multilateral human rights framework. They seek to ensure that the very system which exists to hold them to account is de-legitimized, disrupted, and dismantled.

With this in mind, we wondered if the Rapporteur has any reflections or recommendations in terms of these challenges to the human rights system, and the implications for minority rights?

Suggested academic reference

'Minority rights and criticism of religious nationalism', Humanists International

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