ARTICLE 19 is calling on all UN Human Rights Council (HRC) member and observer states to renew their commitment to implementing Resolution 16/18, the landmark 2011 agreement to combat intolerance on the basis of religion or belief.
Launching a new guide on the significance of this initiative for freedom of expression, ARTICLE 19 explains the commitments Resolution 16/18 contains, addresses misconceptions of permissible limitations on human rights, and makes recommendations on the implementation of the Resolution’s eight-point action plan.
At the 34th Session of the HRC (27 February – 24 March), States will negotiate and consider for adoption a follow-up resolution to HRC Resolution 16/18 on “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.”
The resolution, adopted by consensus in March 2011, is widely regarded as a landmark achievement of the HRC’s first decade. It established a framework for States to address discrimination and violence through positive policy action targeting the root causes of intolerance, including by opening space for dialogue and discussion.
The HRC has adopted follow-up resolutions to Resolution 16/18 annually since 2011, and by consensus, including most recently Resolution 31/26, in March 2016. In 2017, the negotiations of the follow-up resolution take place against a global backdrop in which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that “hate is being mainstreamed”.
Implementation of Resolution 16/18 is therefore more important now than ever.
The ARTICLE 19 guide on Resolution 16/18 sets out four areas of action for States to enhance implementation further still. This primarily requires States to lead by example, including by repealing blasphemy laws and other unjustifiable limitations on freedom of expression, as recommended in the Rabat Plan of Action. It also requires: investment in the continuity of a more visible, transparent, and inclusive Istanbul Process; greater introspection at the Istanbul Process for the replication of good practice; and the maintenance of consensus and the enhancement of reporting practices.
At the 34th Session of the HRC, ARTICLE 19 will be advocating for States to maintain consensus on Resolution 16/18, and recommit to its implementation. As an immediate priority, this requires the next host for the Istanbul Process to be identified, and for reporting on implementation to be enhanced by opening the process up to national human rights institutions and civil society.
There will be several opportunities for States to raise these issues during the 34th Session of the HRC, besides in the negotiations and adoption of the follow-up resolution itself. These include the interactive dialogues on the annual reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (6 March) and the UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights (2 March), as well as the debate on racial profiling and incitement to racial hatred (17 March).