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Friday, October 30, 2009

Ad Hoc Committee Leaves Work Unfinished

UN Watch published, in their blog, links to two apparently recent proposals for the protocol to be added to ICERD by the Ad Hoc Cmte. for the Elaboration of Complementary Standards. [The pdf files contained scanned images, not text, so OCR was required. The format will not be an exact match and there may be errors I failed to spot. ] [Emphasis added.]

Provisions of these proposals are in dispute. It appears that the committee has been bogged down in procedural matters & disputes so that our freedom of expression may be safe for a few months at least, until their next session.

Proposals by Pakistan on behalf of OIC

1. State Parties States shall prohibit any propaganda, practice, or organisation aimed at justifying or encouraging any form of racial, ethnic, national and religious hatred or discrimination targeting people of particular groups, such as religious groups, refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless individuals, migrants and migrant workers, communities based on descent, such as people of African descent, indigenous people, minorities and people under foreign occupation.

2. State Parties shall immediately undertake to adopt positive measures designed to eliminate all incitement to racial, ethnic, national and religious hatred or discrimination in and, to this end, shall commit themselves, inter alia:

  1. to declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas aimed at racial, ethnic, national and religious discrimination or hatred, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any particular group of persons;
  2. to declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which encourage and incite racial hatred or discrimination, and shall declare participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law;
  3. not to permit national or local public authorities incite racial, ethnic, national and religious hatred or discriininationg,
  4. not to permit political parties incite racial, ethnic, national and religious hatred or discrimination. .
  5. to strengthen their legislations or adopt necessary legal provisions to prohibit and suppress racist and xenophobic platforms and to discourage the integration of political parties who promote such platforms in govermnent alliances in order to legitimising the implementation of these platforms.

3. States Parties shall, in accordance with the human rights standards, declare illegal and to prohibit all organizations based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote national, racial and religious hatred and discrimination in any form.

4. States Parties shall promulgate, where they do not exist, a specific legislation prohibiting any propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

To decode the substance of the highlighted expressions, we must keep one linguistic abuse constantly in mind:
4. Emphasizes the urgent need to address the scourges of anti-Semitism, Christianophobia, and Islamophobia as contemporary forms of racism as well as racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas directed at African, Arab, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other communities;
That boilerplate from the Durban II Preliminary Document conflates criticism of Islam with racism. Consequently, references to racism in subsequent documents must be read more broadly.

What constitutes incitement to religious hatred? In effect, any negative expression regarding Islam. This fact becomes clear when we examine the documents behind previous resolutions: Fitna & the Danish Cartoons. The Secretary General made the matter abundantly clear.

Reuters quotes U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about Fitna:

“There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence,” Ban said in a statement. “The right of free expression is not at stake here.”

According to the Secretary General, a documentary juxtaposing verses from the Qur'an and the ravings of Imams with riots in the Arab street constitutes hate speech and incitement. Geert Wilders proved that the Qur'an inculcates hatred and preaching it incites violence. That is truth, not hate speech! The obvious intention and effect is to make all criticism of Islam a criminal offense.


Article 20

  1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
  2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
If Article 20 of ICCPR was enforced, the Qur'an would have to be outlawed as propaganda for war and advocacy of religious hatred inciting violence.

It is likely that the OIC's proposal will be included, along with boilerplate from previous resolutions, in the anticipated Defamation of Religions resolution. The Nigerian proposal differs: it omits provisions 3 & 4.

Compare the OIC's proposal to Article 4 of the Ad Hoc Cmte Draft Document. See also my analysis of the Pakistan/OIC submission made last spring.