On 24 March the UN Human Rights Council voted unanimously in favour of a resolution upholding the right to freedom of belief. This has a quite different emphasis from previous resolutions targetting ‘defamation’. Although this is now slightly old news, I think Norman Geras’ observation that the move hasn’t been widely noticed still holds good.
There are many reasons for viewing with suspicion the former focus on ‘defamation’. It could be used to prop up the blasphemy laws which have led to situations such as this, and the move away from protecting religions to protecting people seems to be a step in the right direction. The National Secular Society reports:
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says the new resolution “properly focuses on protecting individuals from discrimination or violence, instead of protecting religions from criticism.”
The nonbinding vote calls on countries to guarantee people’s right to have or adopt a religion or belief of their choice.
However, like Roy Brown from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, who is quoted here, I wish the resolution had spoken up more clearly for the rights of those who profess no religion.
hat tip: Normblog