18 December 2008

The Netherlands threatens to pull out of Durban II

The Dutch government has threatened to pull out of Durban II conference on racism if changes are not made to the controversial draft resolution.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that four human rights experts have called on the U.N. to stop the discourse on defamation of religions.

15 December 2008

Heilige Huisjes

Literally "holy houses," figuratively, "sacred cows"--subjects too sensitive to be discussed in Dutch society. The holy houses were inspected yesterday at a forum at the Internationale School voor Wijsbegeerte. My talk on "the open conscience and the open society" was commented on by Nahed Selim, a women's rights activist; Rabbi Raphael Evers; Martijn de Koning, an anthropologist, and Coskun Çörü, a member of Dutch parliament with the Christian Democrat party.

12 December 2008

De Rechten van de Mens: een bedreigde soort?

I just came from an interesting discussion at De Balie in Amsterdam with Maurits Berger, Professor of Islam in the Contemporary West at Leiden University, holder of the Sultan of Oman Chair of Oriental Studies.

10 December 2008

On Human Rights Day, working for the universality of rights

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Center for Inquiry just released this statement on ongoing work to uphold the universality of human rights and the launch of a campaign concerning Shari'a courts in the United Kingdom.

Today we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and above all its affirmation of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and expression.

At the United Nations General Assembly meeting in Paris in December 1948 at which the Declaration was adopted, Eleanor Roosevelt told the assembled delegates: “As we bring to fruition our labors on this Declaration of Human Rights, we must at the same time rededicate ourselves to the unfinished task which lies before us.” That task was to make the Declaration “a common standard of achievement” for humanity, and it remains unfinished.

Read more at Center for Inquiry. My bags aren't packed for Holland (I leave tomorrow night), but at least I think I know what I am going to say.