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“Defamation of Religions” Resolution Losing Support at U.N.

An important vote took place at the United Nations on an international religious freedom issue that we have been working on for some time, along with our international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ).

We have been working hard to combat a dangerous resolution being considered by the nations of the world. It’s called the “Defamation of Religions” resolution. As we have reported, this resolution does not encourage religious freedom – but if often constrains it and frequently this resolution is used a weapon to silence religious minorities – including Christianity in many countries.

The fact is that the “Defamation of Religions” resolution masquerades as a “tolerance” law. It would target anyone who speaks negatively in any way about Islam. Sharing your faith would become an international crime, punishable by imprisonment or death.

Both our European and American Government Affairs Legal Teams have met with ambassadors from a number of nations — explaining the truth about this resolution and persuading them to either vote “no” or abstain from voting.

And we have some encouraging news to report. The U.N.’s Third Committee voted on the “Defamation of Religions” resolution and here’s the breakout: The resolution received 85 “yes” votes, 50 “no” votes and 42 abstentions. By comparison, last year the resolution received 95 “yes” votes, 52 “no” votes and 30 abstentions. Yesterday’s vote confirmed what I have been sensing for some time now – the resolution is losing steam. For the first time ever, the “no” and “abstention” votes totaled more than the “yes” votes.

What’s encouraging is the country-by-country vote. The ECLJ team tells me that several of the countries we met with actually backed away from supporting the resolution and changed their votes in committee yesterday. Of the 12 countries that our team met with, seven nations changed their votes after encouragement from our team: Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, and Uruguay all voted to “abstain” after voting “yes” last year. And, St. Lucia, which voted “yes” last year, did not vote at all in the committee yesterday.

In addition to our work to convince nations to withhold support for this resolution, we also delivered an oral argument before the U.N.’s Human Rights Council. You can read the ECLJ’s written submission to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights here.

We know that if dangerous resolutions like this are enshrined as international law, it will come at the price of countless Christian lives.

As you recall, the resolution is being sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) – a coalition of 57 states. Although the OIC says the campaign is aimed at protecting all faiths, once again, only Islam is cited by name. There’s mounting concern about this resolution and a growing realization that while it focuses specifically on Islam, it ultimately intimidates others from speaking out against Islam.

U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based organization that monitors the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, acknowledged what we have stated all along that the resolution is “aimed at the Western world to intimidate anyone from criticizing radical Islam….”

The next step in this battle moves to the United Nations General Assembly where the “Defamation of Religions” resolution will receive a vote sometime during the second or third week of December. Last year in the General Assembly, the resolution received 108 “yes” votes, 51 “no” votes and 25 abstentions.

We will continue our work to ensure that that this dangerous resolution continues to receive less support and that more countries understand that this resolution is harmful – not helpful – to preserving religious liberty and freedom.

We will have more next week on how you can make a difference and have your voice heard on this critical issue.

Posted: 11/25/2008 1:15:00 PM




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