GENEVA (Jan. 19)
Two international organizations–one of which has the American Jewish Committee as an affiliate, and the other representing B’nai B’rith and the Board of Deputies of British Jews–urged a United Nations body here today not only to adopt an international convention calling for the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, but also to formulate procedures of implementation which would put enforcement teeth into a UN document guaranteeing religious freedom throughout the world.
The steps were taken here before the United Nations Sub commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. This 14 member body has before it several preliminary drafts of a religious freedoms convention which became international law when finally adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by a sufficient number of member states.
The statements were submitted by the International League for the Rights of Man, represented here by Sidney Liskofsky, a staff member of the American Jewish Committee, which is affiliated with the League; and by Gustav Warburg, representing the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, comprised of the B’nai B’rith and the British Board.
SOVIET VIOLATION OF RELIGIOUS RIGHTS OF RUSSIAN JEWRY INDICATED
In conformance with the Sub commissions procedures, neither of the statements mentioned any country by name. But all the drafts as well as today’s submissions pointed to the Soviet Union’s violations of the religious and cultural rights of Soviet Jews, mentioning instances of such discriminations known to exist in the USSR.
The League document recommended that the draft to be adopted guarantee certain rights known to be denied to Soviet Jews today, among them being manifestation of one’s religion or belief “in private or in public, and individually or in community with others.” It urged clauses guaranteeing not only freedom of worship but also “teaching, training of religious personnel, observance of rites and customs, production or acquisition of articles necessary for observance of prescribed rituals, publications, acts of service and mercy, and the maintaining of religious organizations and associations.”
The League of Rights document noted with approval the various recent steps taken by important religious bodies toward increasing interreligious understanding, including specifically the recent Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (Protestant). It called for “adequate measures of implementation” for whatever draft is adopted by the Sub commission and, subsequently, by the Human Rights Commission, the Economic and Social Council and, finally, the General Assembly.
The Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations called not only for articles to implement the future convention but also for permission to non-governmental organizations to report any violations of religious freedoms in any country. The Soviet representatives here, backed by the delegates from Ukrainia and Poland, have balked particularly against giving leeway for interventions by non-governmental organizations. Among such organizations are not only the two groups which submitted statements today but other world Jewish bodies as well as organizations of jurists from free countries and representatives of the major Christian religions.