UNHRC ceiling

The United Nations Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Tom Page via Flickr

Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a non-profit advocacy organization based in Brussels, released a report on Monday highlighting what we’ve long known to be true: The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a joke.

Eight of the UNHRC’s 47 member states, including newly elected Morocco, China and Saudi Arabia (their three-year terms begin Wednesday), imprisoned people in 2013 for breaking laws that restrict religious freedom. The five current member states to do the same were India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya and South Korea.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the U.N. General Assembly adopted in 1948, clearly states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

The UNHRC replaced the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 2006, in part “to redress [the Commission’s] shortcoming,” which included granting membership to countries with terrible human rights records. The resolution establishing the UNHRC declares that member states “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Yet at least eight member states are failing, epically, to do so. In 2013, Human Rights Without Frontiers International documented the following gross human rights violations in the area of religious freedom:

In China, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists Muslims and Falun Gong adherents were arrested for proselytizing, holding illegal gatherings, providing religious education classes and publicizing their persecution.

In Morocco, a convert to Christianity was arrested and fined for “shaking the faith of a Muslim” by sharing his newfound beliefs.

In Saudi Arabia, 52 Ethiopian Christians were arrested for participating in a private religious service.

In India, Protestants were arrested for holding private prayer meetings.

In Indonesia, a Pentecostal pastor was arrested for holding religious services without a valid permit, and an atheist was sentenced to 30 months in prison for starting an atheist Facebook page where he posted the words “God does not exist.”

In Kazakhstan, an atheist was arrested for allegedly inciting religious hatred in his writings.

In Libya, foreign missionaries, dozens of Copts and a Protestant were arrested and allegedly tortured for proselytizing.

In South Korea, nearly 600 Jehovah’s Witnesses were serving prison sentences for conscientious objection to mandatory military service.

In these eight states tasked with promoting human rights, religious believers and atheists alike are languishing in prison for maintaining their convictions, for exercising their human rights.

The U.N. General Assembly can suspend the rights of UNHRC members that commit serious human rights violations. Newcomers China and Saudi Arabia are two of the world’s worst states when it comes to religious freedom and other human rights. Their election to the UNHRC is a disgrace. Should their rights should be suspended the moment they’re granted on January 1?

9 Comments

  1. Elsewhere on this website criticism has been aimed at Pope Francis for his failure to bring the Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse problems into the snare of the UN. The above article illustrates just one reason why the Vatican should keep the UN at a distance.

    Two other reasons are UNESCO and UNICEF. A quick survey of som of their programs will reveal the fundamental problems the Vatican has–and everyone else ought to have–with the mess that the UN has become in recent decades.

    The UN is overwhelmingly composed of independent states headed by dictators who do not relish democracy or basic human rights.

  2. The United Nations has become another powerful socialist front for World domination, Islamisation of the west, and devaluation of human rights. many of our world leaders have sold their souls to the devil. Anything that is too big and powerful is open to corruption and the UN needs to be disbanded. Democratic countries need to have their own organisation to defend themselves against dictatorships, invasions and takeovers. Act now before it is too late.

  1. […] UN Human Rights Council fails to protect religious freedom Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a non-profit advocacy organization based in Brussels, released a report on Monday highlighting what we've long known to be true: The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a joke. Eight of the UNHRC's 47 … Read more on Religion News Service […]

  2. […] UN Human Rights Council fails to safeguard religious freedom Every person has the proper to freedom of thought, conscience and religion this correct involves freedom to adjust his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in neighborhood with [see also 'pipe flashing' ] other individuals and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in … Study much more on Religion News Service […]

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