Press Release

13 April 2004

Concludes General Debate on Human Rights of Specific Groups and Individuals
(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 13 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights this morning adopted by recorded vote two resolutions on combating defamation of religions, and on the right to development.

The first text concerned combating defamation of religions and was adopted by a roll-call vote of 29 in favour, 16 against, with 7 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, India, Mexico, Nepal, Peru and the Republic of Korea).  In the resolution, the Commission expressed deep concern at negative stereotyping of religions and manifestations of intolerance in some regions of the world, and the frequent and wrong association of Islam with human rights violations and terrorism.  The Commission also noted with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001 and expressed deep concern at programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at the defamation of religions, in particular, when supported by governments.

The Commission also adopted by a roll-call vote of 49 in favour, 3 against (Australia, Japan and the United States), with no abstentions, a resolution on the right to development (E/CN.4/2004/L.17), in which it decided to consider the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the right to development at its sixty-first session and requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide all necessary support to the proposed high-level task force on the implementation of the right to development.  It also decided to renew the mandate of the Working Group for one year and to convene its sixth session for 10 working days, of which five would be allocated to the high-level task force.


Statements on Specific Groups and Individuals


DAVID LITTMAN, of World Union for Progressive Judaism, reminded the Commission of the neglected issue of the modern exodus of Jews from Middle East countries since the 1940s, that forgotten million who had suffered the habitual religious cleansing from Arab countries.  They and their progeny now numbered 3 million, of whom 2.5 million made up more than 50 per cent of Israel's Jewish population of over 5 million.  It was an historical fact that the tragedy of the Arab refugees of mandated Palestine occurred because of the refusal of the Arab League and the Palestinian leadership to accept international legality in 1947, and their unashamed aim of eliminating the nascent State of Israel.  It was a policy maintained for 40 years, which had been reactivated by some States, and those Islamist groups like Hamas.  On the other hand, Jewish refugees from Arab countries -- far from the war zones -- were victimized because of their religion.


ALGIS TOMAS GENIUSAS, of International Federation of Free Journalists, said the Commission should not fail to respond to the pleas of the Chechens, the Tibetans, the Crimean Tartars, the Kashmiris, the Palestinians, the Kurds, and the Ingushetians.  The scorched earth campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur should end, and the situation of human rights in Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, Liberia, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic People’s Republic of the Congo needed the attention of the Commission.  The Commission should pay attention to the plight of the Chechen people, and replace the silence that had greeted genocides in the past with a global clamour.   


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For information media - not an official record