The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, is mandated to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles.
The Special Rapporteur plans to submit a report to the Human Rights Council on how anti-Muslim hatred manifests itself as violation of, or an obstacle to, the right to freedom of religion or belief of Muslims around the world, and make recommendations to governments, international organisations, civil society, media and other relevant stakeholders on how to address the challenges posed by anti-Muslim hatred.
Violations of the right to freedom of religion and belief are increasing globally in scale, depth and blatancy. Carried out by both government and non-state actors, they range from obstructive (e.g. administrative restrictions) to extreme (e.g. genocide). Muslims are a diverse mix of ethnicities, religious and theological affiliations, philosophical beliefs, political persuasions, secular tendencies, languages and cultural traditions.
Globally, however, trends indicate that Muslim individuals and communities are suffering increased human rights violations on the grounds of their religious identity. In the West, intolerance and discrimination against Muslims is being debated, legislated, and normalised. Intra-Muslim intolerance and violence between Sunni and Shia extremist organizations and militias in Pakistan and Iraq is stark.
Ahmadi Muslims face persecution in Pakistan, Indonesia and Algeria. Muslim women and girls often bear the brunt of anti-Muslim hatred that results from some governments’ counter-terrorism tactics. From discrimination and violent exchanges, the destruction of mosques and properties, gender-based violence and forced sterilization, to arbitrary detention, the human rights impacts of anti-Muslim hatred are manifold and are in need of urgent action. Tackling discrimination and intolerance on the grounds of religious belief - or indeed non-belief - is also essential to reducing social, economic and political division and conflict worldwide.
The Human Rights Centre Clinic will provide Dr Shaheed with research to inform his report.
In response to the global rise in religious intolerance and hate worldwide, the Special Rapporteur is undertaking an investigation on the human rights impacts of anti-Muslim hatred. The Special Rapporteur will present his findings in a report to the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC46) in March 2021.
The Essex Human Rights Centre Clinic will work under the overall direction of the Special Rapporteur (and his research team led by Rose Richter) to support the mandate’s research on this topic. Students participating in this project will complete a background report on anti-Muslim hatred in specific jurisdictions and will assist in organizing international consultations with affected communities and human rights organizations.
This research may pose some risk to students who are nationals of the countries chosen for the study. The type and extent of risk as well as mitigation measures might vary in specific cases.
“This is, unfortunately, an issue that is very current. I am looking forward to working with the team to assist the Special Rapporteur in preparing this in-depth study of anti-Muslim hatred. I know that the knowledge, skills and drive that Essex students bring to the project will make the Special Rapporteur’s report all the more impactful.”
The University of Essex Human Rights Centre Clinic will conduct research, culminating in a report, which will constitute a crucial submission for the Special Rapporteur’s report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2021 (the Special Rapporteur’s report will be submitted in December 2020). When engaging in outreach to stakeholders, students should make clear that they are engaging in background research to create a submission for the Special Rapporteur’s HRC 46 report.
Adopting a comparative approach where appropriate, the Human Rights Centre Clinic report, which will be around 30 pages in length, should:
Research for this report will include desk-based research (literature, human rights reports, media), outreach, including interviews, with key stakeholders, and sourcing information from multilateral and government interlocutors (e.g. reports, data policies, plans of action).
Participation is a fundamental human rights principle. This means that human rights research and advocacy should incorporate significant consultation with rights-holders and other stakeholders. Students will identify key actors (CSOs, academics, religious leaders, policy makers, international organizations) working on this issue. Subject to funding and authorisation from the University, there may be an opportunity for students to attend international consultations on anti-Muslim hatred, organized by the UN Special Rapporteur, in certain countries. Students will report on these consultations and include information gathered in the final research report.