Michael DeDora gives us a report by Dr. Elizabeth O’Casey on the EU’s resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
At the end of last week, the European Union (EU), supported by the South American group, tabled a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Now, whilst any resolution that highlights the importance of protecting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief is always extremely welcome, what is shamefully inadequate about this resolution is that it expressly excludes any concern regarding discrimination and violence against non-believers.
O’Casey and others tried to get more explicit language about protecting non-believers into the resolution, and the EU replied with the “almost flippant” statement that
non-believers are already covered in the resolution, by the ‘right to belief.’
Oh dear – not necessarily. You can’t trust everyone to treat non-belief as protected by the right to belief, because some people really do consider non-belief a negation of belief and thus not protected.
Or as O’Casey puts it,
what the EU representative and her colleagues have failed to understand is the importance, within the context of this type of resolution, of expressly underlining the institutionalised persecution and discrimination that non-believers are subjected to globally, as well as making explicit ‘non-believers’ as a category of persons who come under the protection of any right to freedom of religion or belief. The necessity to make this fact plain is demonstrated through the apparent ignorance of it by so many governments across the world; an ignorance manifested through, for example, the use of the death penalty as a potential punishment for atheism in seven countries, and the effective criminalisation of atheism in many more.
She’s being tactful. I doubt it’s ignorance; I think it’s more likely disinclination.