Comments by David G. Littman, NGO Representative to the United Nations (Geneva) for the Association for World Education (AWE) and World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ):
The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, the proposed Islamic Charter, the Universal Declaration and the International Covenants
On looking through my papers recently, I came across a premonitory letter sent nearly two years ago to the then High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, by me and Roy Brown, the main representative of the International Humanist & Ethical Union to the UN in Geneva. It denounces the OIC ‘Stealth Jihad’ campaign inside the UN corridors of power, particularly at its Human Rights Council, and is worthwhile reproducing here as a follow-up to my yesterday’s assessment on this ominous subject (with links to my earlier relevant Jihad Watch articles); coming nearly a year after this letter by 2 NGOs (WUPJ & IHEU), representing about seven million members in 70 states worldwide.
WORLD UNION FOR PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM
c/o Beith-GIL, 12 Quai du Seujet, 1201 GenÃ¨ve, Suisse
INTERNATIONAL HUMANIST AND ETHICAL UNION
1 Gower Street, London WC1E 6HD, United Kingdom
Mrs. Louise Arbour
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson – Geneva
21 December 2007
By Fax: 022: 917 9012
Primacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The message of OIC Secretary-General, Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, on the occasion of Human Rights Day, has just come to our attention, and his statement is noteworthy. It reads, in part:
Respect of Human Rights through effective protection and promotion of equality, civil liberties and social justice is a milestone in the OIC Ten Year Plan of Action. In this regard the OIC General Secretariat is considering the establishment of [an] independent permanent body to promote Human Rights in the Member States in accordance with the provisions of the OIC ‘Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam’ and to elaborate an OIC ‘Charter on Human Rights’. The OIC is also committed to encourage its member States to reinforce their national laws and regulations in order to guaranty strict respect for Human Right[s].” [bold added] http://www.oic-oci.org/oicnew/topic_print.asp?t_id=708
On Friday, 14 December, I handed to you the two statements we addressed to the Council on 11 December, one concerning Darfur, the other the primacy of the UDHR. We were however unable to complete the latter statement because of a procedural ruling by the President, Ambassador Toru Romulus da Costea, but it was officially circulated at the plenum with the Secretariat’s approval.
In this statement, we noted:
We were surprised that Pakistan’s Ambassador Masood Khan, speaking yesterday morning on behalf of the OIC, claimed that the Cairo Declaration was “not an alternative competing worldview on human rights”, but failed to mention the shari’a law as “the only source of reference” (articles 24 and 25) in that same Declaration – the shari’a law where there is no equality between Muslim men and women, and between Muslims and non-Muslims.
The Final CommuniquÃ© of the Third Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit held in Mecca on 7-8 December 2005 (…) provides a clear message regarding the UN system of human rights:
The Conference called for considering the possibility of establishing an independent permanent body to promote human rights in Member States as well as the possibility in preparing an ‘Islamic Charter on Human Rights’ in accordance with the provisions of the ‘Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam’ and interact with the United Nations and other relevant international bodies.
We seriously question whether such a body would be “complementary” to the Human Rights Council or whether, given the wording of the Cairo Declaration, it will have shari’a law as its “only source of reference” and be seen as an alternative.
On 14 September 2000, in reply to a communication from the Association for World Education as to the “universality” of the ‘Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam’ (published in Volume II: ‘Regional Instruments’, OHCHR, 1997, pp. 477-84, of ‘A Compilation of International Instruments’), the legal advisor to the then HCHR replied:
The Member States which have acceded to and ratified United Nations Human Rights Conventions remain bound, under all circumstances, by the provisions of those texts as well as the erge omnes obligations under customary international law.
We are writing to you today to request an official ruling from your legal advisor as to whether the above official statement on Human Rights Day by the OIC Secretary General – in regard to the ‘Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam’ and a future ‘Islamic Charter’ based on shari’a law – would clash with the UDHR and the ‘Universal Instruments’ (‘A Compilation Of International Instruments’ Vol. I, 1993)
Please accept our season’s greetings, and our sincere appreciation for your multifarious efforts in holding to the highest standards of human rights and in guiding the international community along that straight and narrow path, toward an appreciation of the universality of the UDHR.
David G. Littman – WUPJ Representative to the UNO in Geneva
Roy W. Brown – IHEU main representative the UN in Geneva
* * * * *
See OIC at the UN: ‘Dialogue for Dhimmis’ & more ‘Stealth Jihad’ (Dec. 22, 2008)
Comments by David G. Littman: the Association for World Education, UN-Geneva
See his previous articles on Stealth Jihad at the United Nations: here and here.
OIC Inter-institutional Forum on Universal Shared Values: Challenges & New Paradigms
On December 19, 2008, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Prof. Elmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, delivered the keynote address after 4 high level speakers. His full speech was posted today on the OIC website. Here is a noteworthy passage:
The OIC is going through a phase of introspection and soul searching on human rights. As the first major step in this field, the OIC adopted in the year 2000, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. This Declaration was not conceived as an alternative to the Universal Declaration even though it additionally addresses religious and cultural specificity of the Muslim countries. The OIC has moved beyond the Cairo Declaration. In December 2005, OIC leaders at their Third Extraordinary Summit Conference in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, unanimously declared that contemporary reform and development must be anchored in the principles of good governance, protection of human rights, social justice, transparency and accountability. The Summit outlined a Ten-Year Programme of Action with a road map for enhancement of human rights, for striving for enlargement of political participation and promotion of equality, civil liberties and social justice in the OIC member states. The new OIC Charter adopted during the last OIC Summit in Dakar, Senegal in March 2008, called for the establishment of an independent permanent Commission to promote “the civil, political, social and economic rights enshrined in the organization’s covenants, the  Cairo Declaration on Human Rights, and in legally agreed instruments.” (…)
* * * * *
Nothing could be clearer for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. We await the next OIC “soul-searching”- with details on the “new OIC Charter” that will encompass the “enhancement of human rights, for striving for enlargement of political participation and promotion of equality, civil liberties and social justice in the OIC member states.”
Perhaps we’ll learn more on Human Rights Day, the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed on 10 December 1948.
* * * * *