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UN Body Adopts Draft of Pact Outlawing Religious Intolerance

March 13, 1967
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More than seven years after a subcommission proposed the idea — and after three years of intensive study and broad debate “the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted unanimously here this weekend a draft UN Convention, calling for the worldwide outlawing of religious intolerance. The Commission, however, left to the General Assembly the task of drafting further articles for the implementation of the instrument.

Morris B. Abram, chief representative of the United States in the Commission, hailed the action as “a milestone in the progress of the human family, which would not have been possible several decades ago.” The Convention calls for action by all member states of the United Nations, and by other states not belonging to the UN, who would ratify the document, to “insure equal protection of the law against promotion of or incitement to religious intolerance or discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.”

The Commission made progress this weekend on another item on its agenda of prime interest to Jews and others around the world. This item calls for the elimination of statutes of limitation on the prosecution and trial of major war criminals, meaning those responsible for murder, and on crimes against humanity. After receiving a number of amendments to a draft Convention dealing with that subject, the Commission set up a working party to try to coordinate the various proposals, some of them differing sharply as to definition and purpose.

The working party includes three prominent Jews, all of them representing their respective governments in the Commission. They are Prof. Rene Cassin, of France; Mr. Abram who, in a private capacity, is president of the American Jewish Committee; and Israel Supreme Court Justice Haim H. Cohn. The working party is to meet this week and report back to the full Commission, whose current session is scheduled to conclude by the end of this month.

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