For the sixth year in a row, the U.N. General Assembly will vote in December on a resolution presented by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that calls on governments to act against “religious defamation.”
Similar resolutions have been passed every year since 1999 by the U.N.’s main human rights body. However, in both the UNGA and the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, the resolutions have drawn declining support in recent years.
Last December’s UNGA vote passed by 80-61, with 42 countries abstaining. The 19 vote margin was the smallest number yet; margins in the four previous years’ votes had ranged from 33 to 57.
Over the past five years, only seven countries have changed their position to “no.” The rest of the difference has been the result of non-Muslim developing countries shifting from supporting the measure, to abstaining.
Those who oppose the resolution, including religious freedom, freedom of expression, legal and humanist advocacy groups, believe that this trend will continue until the OIC measure fails altogether.
But the OIC is hoping that incidents over the past year, especially the Quran-burning and “Ground Zero mosque” episodes in the U.S. and the Swiss ban on the building of minarets, will help to rally supporters.
Although the OIC resolutions profess to cover all religions, only Islam and Muslims are cited by name. Last year’s text expressed concern that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism” and referred also to the “ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities.”
While the resolutions themselves are non-binding, they open the door for the OIC’s attempts to amend the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which is legally binding.
Christian ministries working among persecuted religious minorities are ramping up their lobbying of governments that have voted for the resolution or abstained in the past, and are calling for public support.
Open Doors USA has launched an advocacy campaign against this UN Resolution, on the basis that it’s against freedom of religion.