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U.N. Commission Eliminates Religious Rights from International Pact

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights decided here yesterday that a set of draft principles on freedom and non-discrimination in the matter of religious rights and practices will not be embodied into an international convention. Instead, the Commission decided, the principles may be proposed to the General Assembly for issuance as a simple “declaration,” similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the Assembly in 1948.

As an international convention, the principles would have had the force of international law. As a “declaration,” they would set up only “standards of achievement,” permissive in character but not mandatory on any member state. The principles had been adopted in 1960 by the Human Rights Commission’s Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

The Commission also decided not to debate this year a vital part of the draft principles, forbidding governments from denying religious groups the right to acquire materials needed for the practice of their religion. Under this clause, the Soviet Union would have been out of tune with the principles when it denies the Jews of Russia the right to bake matzohs in state bakeries. This section of the draft set of principles may be debated at the next session of the Commission, in 1963.

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