Tag Archives: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Religious moral relativism – another example

This example of religious moral relativism from the International Humanist and Ethical Union Another blow to Universal Human Rights.

The Saudi Gazette announced today (14 May 2009) that, exactly as they promised, the OIC is moving ahead with the creation of an “Islamic” Human Rights Commission. As IHEU warned in a written statement to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2008, this commission will have as its guiding document not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but the Cairo Declaration of 1990 which refers to the Sharia as its “only source of reference” to human rights, ignoring completely the Universal Declaration and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to which almost all Islamic states are party. When IHEU tried to refer to this incompatibility in the plenary of the Human Rights Council we were silenced on a point of order when the Pakistani delegate claimed “it insulting to our faith to discuss the Sharia in this forum”. The president of the Council agreed, and ruled that it would no longer be permissible to discuss in detail any particular system of law. The effect of that ruling has been to place any human rights abuse carried out in the name of religion outside the scope of international law.

The intention in creating the Islamic commission is clear: International Human Rights norms will no longer apply to anyone living in an Islamic State, their rights will be defined exclusively in terms of the Sharia. And in the words of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the OIC, “the preservation of the Islamic family values have been enshrined in the OIC charter”.

Roy W Brown

IHEU main repersentative, UN Geneva


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Universal Declaration of Human Rights

60yrsudhrlogoDecember 10 marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This is an historic and foundational document. It is secular but receives extremely wide support from different political, religious and non-religious trends. It arose in part as a reaction to the horrors and violence of the Second World war –  particularly the Holocaust. But it has also been an inspiration for moral and social progress throughout the world – intermittent and unreliable as that has been.

AC Grayling is currently blogging in the Guardian on the UDHR – one article a day until December 10 (see AC Graylings articles on the UDHR). As always, his comments are worth reading.

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Does religion threaten human rights?

It worries me that as we approach the 60th anniversary of the the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the world seems to be facing a new threat to freedom of expression. This freedom is basic in democratic societies. It’s also vital to exposing, and overcoming, violations of human rights throughout the world.

I have commented before about attempts by some international Islamic organisations to restrict freedom of expression when it comes to issues involving violation of human rights in Islamic countries. This has extended to preventing criticism of religion in UN organisations. Other religions have extended a degree of support for this position internationally, and within some European countries.

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