On October 1, 2009, the Obama administration in conjunction with the Egyptian government, introduced an anti-free speech measure to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council (HRC). It was adopted the next day without a vote.
The draft resolution, misleadingly titled “Freedom of Opinion and Expression” includes two troubling components. First, it calls on nation states to take “effective measures” to address and combat “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. It expresses concern and condemnation of “negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups”. It further attempts to construe this as an international human rights law and obligation. Second, it recognizes the media’s “moral and social responsibilities” and the “importance” that its potential voluntary code of conduct could play in combating intolerance.
This resolution appears to stem from, and constitute a step toward, the Organization of Islamic Conference’s resolution to “combat defamation of religions”. The OIC’s resolution would ban outright the “defaming” of religions, speech critical of religion (even if accurate), and open discussion about any negative consequences resulting from the implementation of religious beliefs (such as Sharia law).