Jewish Group Submits Memorandum to U.N. Body on Religious Bias

Proposals for a draft of a United Nations convention that would obligate all member states to wipe out all religious discriminations were presented here today by the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, an international body with consultative status, representing B’nai B’rith and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The proposals were made in a memorandum to the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, a subsidiary body of the UN Commission on Human Rights. The Subcommission will send the proposals on to the full Commission, scheduled to hold its next session in Geneva, in March.

The Subcommission has on its agenda consideration of two separate conventions, one dealing with racial discrimination and the other with religious discrimination. However, since the anti-bias unit is scheduled to conclude its three weeks of sessions by Friday, it was certain that no debate on religious discrimination would be held this year. The 12 member group, which spent almost two of its three weeks debating and finally adopting a set of principles dealing with the right of everyone to leave or return to his own country, is now discussing racial discrimination.

Proposing that the Human Rights Commission adopt a declaration calling for “the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, ” the CBJO suggested these points for inclusion in the declaration:

1. A preamble which would include “reference to the fact that religious intolerance can lead to and has led to discrimination and violence.”

2. A statement indicating that propagation of “incitatory hatred of a religious group” is to be forbidden.

3. A call upon all governments to discontinue all administrative practices which involve discrimination or unequal treatment on religious grounds, urging the governments to pin down these prohibitions through appropriate domestic legislation.

4. Member states should be obligated to withhold financial aid, license privileges or any other form of assistance to any private organizations which deny equality of treatment to one or another religious group.

5. Member states should obligate themselves “to take action to bring about the cessation of the propagation in public of that form of religious intolerance that is calculated to lead to discrimination or violence against a religious group.”

Another memorandum presented to the Subcommission, urging the group to continue studying possible steps for the protection of minorities and the elimination of other forms of discrimination, was introduced today by six organizations, including the CBJO and the World Jewish Congress. The WJC also holds consultative status before the Subcommission.

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