It’s a rare moment in history when the United Nations is more concerned about religious liberty than the U.S. President. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case now, as the U.N. drives more nations to intervene in the plight of men and women of faith. This afternoon, at the U.N. headquarters in New York, FRC’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin and I were invited to deliver two of eight keynote addresses on religious freedom abroad.
The session, “The Persecution of Christians Globally: A Threat to International Peace and Security,” was done in collaboration with several NGOs, including the Holy See and Permanent Missions of Palau and Argentina. Like us, they fear the brutality of ISIS, Boko Haram, and others is only the beginning of mass genocide against God’s people unless more countries stand in solidarity against the intolerance.
As I told those assembled, the nations of the world, appalled by the horror of World War II, came together much like it did today to form the United Nations (U.N.) and adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The mission in 1948 is as essential then as it is now: to address and prevent fundamental human rights violations. Member states pledged to ensure that “[e]veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Almost 20 years later, this same right was again enshrined in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which explicitly “[r]ecogniz[es] that” religious freedom and other “rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person.” While the 1948 Declaration recognizes these same rights, it is not a binding legal instrument. The ICCPR is. Decades later, in the Middle East, the United States (and others) have an obligation to prevent genocide — this conclusion should cut across political and social lines; indeed, it is shared by the former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, among others. We must not fail to do so again. From the earliest days of our Republic until now, the United States has affirmed that our rights come not from the will of any government but from the hand of God.
This “self-evident” assertion is the single most important claim of our national charter, the Declaration of Independence, and infuses the Constitution of the United States. “The international legal framework to protect religious liberty is in place,” I said today. “What remains is for nations to fulfill their moral and legal obligation to enforce these rights, and ensure others do the same.” To read my full remarks, click here.
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