Here we provide links and information on various resources related to the Freedom of Thought report.

Human rights are important, so the language of rights has become part of common discourse in many areas. Sometimes there is quite loose talk about ‘human rights’ (“I have a right to do whatever I want!”) which is not always accurate.

However, your right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and your right to freedom of expression, are human rights (articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, respectively). As with other universal human rights there are quite specific meanings to the terms, and several internationally-agreed treatises which define your rights, the limits that states may place on them, and the obligations states have to uphold them.

Human Rights and Freedom of Thought

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    The entire UN Declaration of Human Rights which details all of your inter-related universal rights.  Article 18 is directly about Freedom of Religion and Belief and related issues fall under Articles 1, 2, 18, 19, 20 and 26.  Universal Declaration of Human Rights in full.
  • UN Declaration on Eliminating Intolerance of Religion & Belief
    The full title is the Declaration on Elimination of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion and Belief. It outlines in 8 short articles your human rights in this area.  Full Declaration.  Updated full Declaration (PDF)

Blasphemy and ‘Defamation of Religion’

  • Speaking Freely About Religion
    A detailed International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) policy paper concerning religious freedom and the relationship between blasphemy and defamation in UN Resolutions. Full text (PDF)
  • Combating ‘Defamation of Religion’
    IHEU article on efforts by most Islamic countries to introduce blasphemy laws under a new name.  Full article.

Cases of abuse of Freedom of Religion or Belief Around the World

  • Special Rapporteur’s ‘Digest on Freedom of Religion and Belief’
    Excerpts of the Special Rapporteurs UN reports from  1986 – 2011 arranged by topics.  Full digest.
  • UN site’s ‘Issues in Focus’ 
    UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights yearly issues in focus on freedom of religion and belief. Website.
  • Special Rapporteur’s Report : Paraguay 2011
    A sample of the UN Special Rapporteur for Religion and Belief’s country visit and report on Human Rights issues in Paraguay in March 2011.  Full report.
  • Africa’s blapshemy laws
    IHEU representative Leo Igwe’s statement on the abuses and severity of Blashpemy laws in coutnries throughout Africa.  Full Statement.
  • Pakistan’s blashpemy laws
    An IHEU article discussing incidents of Blashpemy in Pakistan.  Full article.
  • Conviction of Yunis Shaikh
    2001, Dr. Yunis Shaikh peace activist and founder of the Progressive group ‘Enlightenment’ convicted of death sentence.  Full article.
  • Abolishment of blasphemy laws in the UK
    As late as 2008, Blasphemy laws were in place in the United Kingdom but repealed after debate in the House of Lords.  Full article.

Human Rights in Europe

  • European Convention on Human rights
    The Convention lays out rights which Council of Europe member states are bound to uphold and establishes the European Court of Human Rights.
  • European Court of Human Rights
    You may attempt to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights. However cases are only admissible when domestic law has been exhausted. (Article 35 § 1 on “Admissibility criteria” states “The Court may only deal with the matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, according to the generally recognised rules of international law, and within a period of six months from the date on which the final decision was taken.”) There are also many other considerations on admissibility.