Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

“Stifling free speech — globally”

Canada’s speech-tribunal censorship, writ large? “A coalition of Islamic states is using the United Nations to enact international ‘anti-defamation’ rules”. Among entities to protected from such “defaming”: religions.

Susan Bunn Livingstone, a former U.S. State Department official who specialized in human rights issues and also spoke to the July 18 congressional gathering, said the developments at the UN are worrisome. “They are trying to internationalize the concept of blasphemy,” said Livingstone at the panel. She contrasted “the concept of injuring feelings versus what is actually happening on the ground — torture, imprisonment, abuse.” And, she added, “They are using this discourse of ‘defamation’ to carve out any attention we would bring to a country. Abstractions like states and ideologies and religions are seen as more important than individuals. This is a moral failure.”

The fact that the resolutions keep passing, and that UN officials now monitor countries’ compliance, could help the concept of “defamation of religions” become an international legal norm, said Livingstone, noting that when the International Court of Justice at The Hague decides what rises to the level of an “international customary law,” it looks not to unanimity among countries but to “general adherence.” “That’s why these UN resolutions are so troubling,” she said. “They’ve been passed for 10 years.”

(Luisa Ch. Savage, Maclean’s, Jul. 23, via Rick Sincere). More from the author at her Maclean’s blog, with hundreds of reader comments, and from Somin @ Volokh.