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Newest Debate: Religion and human rights - What are the potential points of collaboration?

Religion and Human Rights theme imageIn many circles, the words “religion” and “human rights” are seen as opposing concepts. For many activists working on women’s rights, LGBT concerns, and more, organized faith communities and their leaders are invariably a big part of the the problem, and only rarely, if ever, part of the solution.This view, however, vastly underestimates existing and potential points of collaboration. In this openGlobalRights theme, we explore the possibilities across regions, faith traditions, and issues. Read on...


Current theme: Religion and human rights: What are the potential points of collaboration?

Faith and health care in Africa: a complex reality

It’s time to move past overly simplistic arguments surrounding Catholics and condoms, and make an effort to understand the real and very complex contributions of faith-based health providers across Africa. Français, العربية


Muslim NGOs, aid, and human rights

Drawing on studies of Muslim aid organisations in Britain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Bangladesh, the author explores how these organisations do and don’t engage with human rights. She identifies three potential areas of contention as well as some of the strategies the organisations adopt to overcome these dilemmas. Français, Español, العربية


In Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights address painful paradoxes

In a world where so much blood is shed for religion, Rabbis for Human Rights believes that the Jewish faith must be a force for human rights. A contribution from Jerusalem to the openGlobalRights debate, “Religion and Human Rights”. Españolעברית 


Religion as a human rights liability

Although many human rights movements have religious underpinnings, explicitly linking religion to human rights can lead to the exclusion and persecution of minority groups. To protect the rights of those minorities, we must work to keep religion separate from human rights. A contribution from Pakistan to the openGlobalRights debate, “Religion and Human Rights”. Español, اُردُو‎ العربية


Islamic and UN Bills of Rights: same difference

Despite tension between western notions of individual freedom and Muslim tenets of communal responsibility, there is much common ground to be found in the fight against oppression and discrimination. A contribution to the debate on religion and human rights. FrançaisEspañolالعربية


The rights in Hinduism

Contrary to popular perception, Hindu philosophies of moral agency, duty and universal truth cohabit with human rights values. A response to Larry Cox. Español, العربية


Human rights must get religion

Many human rights activists are secular and view religion as a problem, rather than as an ally. Although religion does often pose serious challenges, it also offers the human rights movement hope for renewal, along with greater legitimacy and impact. FrançaisEspañol, العربية


On a wing and a prayer: can religion revive the rights movement?

Normative frameworks in the Global South are largely religious, making it difficult for the secular human rights movement to penetrate these societies. Religious groups also have a better track record in mobilizing social reform, which begs the question: should the rights movement operate more like a charismatic, evangelizing religion? Español, العربية


All articles and responses in date order:

Faith and health care in Africa: a complex reality

It’s time to move past overly simplistic arguments surrounding Catholics and condoms, and make an effort to understand the real and very complex contributions of faith-based health providers across Africa. Français, العربية

In Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights address painful paradoxes

In a world where so much blood is shed for religion, Rabbis for Human Rights believes that the Jewish faith must be a force for human rights. A contribution from Jerusalem to the openGlobalRights debate, “Religion and Human Rights”. Españolעברית 

Muslim NGOs, aid, and human rights

Drawing on studies of Muslim aid organisations in Britain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Bangladesh, the author explores how these organisations do and don’t engage with human rights. She identifies three potential areas of contention as well as some of the strategies the organisations adopt to overcome these dilemmas. Français, Español, العربية

Religion as a human rights liability

Although many human rights movements have religious underpinnings, explicitly linking religion to human rights can lead to the exclusion and persecution of minority groups. To protect the rights of those minorities, we must work to keep religion separate from human rights. A contribution from Pakistan to the openGlobalRights debate, “Religion and Human Rights”. Español, اُردُو‎ العربية

Human rights abuse in Burma and the role of Buddhist nationalism

Myanmar is taking significant strides towards political and economic liberalization after decades of military dictatorship, yet a series of violent attacks against Muslims is shaking confidence in the country. Surprisingly, Buddhist monks support much of the violence, notes Wai Yan Phone. ภาษาไทย,

The rights in Hinduism

Contrary to popular perception, Hindu philosophies of moral agency, duty and universal truth cohabit with human rights values. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, “Religion and Human Rights” and a response to Larry Cox. Español, العربية

Islamic and UN Bills of Rights: same difference

Despite tension between western notions of individual freedom and Muslim tenets of communal responsibility, there is much common ground to be found in the fight against oppression and discrimination. A contribution to the debate on religion and human rights. FrançaisEspañolالعربية

Human rights must get religion

Larry Cox

Many human rights activists are secular and view religion as a problem, rather than as an ally. Although religion does often pose serious challenges, it also offers the human rights movement hope for renewal, along with greater legitimacy and impact. FrançaisEspañol, العربية

On a wing and a prayer: can religion revive the rights movement?

SnyderNormative frameworks in the Global South are largely religious, making it difficult for the secular human rights movement to penetrate these societies. Religious groups also have a better track record in mobilizing social reform, which begs the question: should the rights movement operate more like a charismatic, evangelizing religion? Español, العربية

Introducing openGlobalRights’ newest debate: Religion and human rights

Our guest editors give a daily update of this week's theme.

Women’s rights in the developing world: Build it and it will come?

Countries with equal rights for women are more prosperous, more secure, and less corrupt.  But how does the international community help societies become more equal?  Recent developments in Mozambique underscore the weaknesses of the current approach.

American Jews, money and the Israel-Palestine conflict

Although the American Jewish community spends relatively little on human rights work in Israel/Palestine, they are getting serious about promoting a lasting peace in the region. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, “Funding for human rights. العربية, עברית

A post-modern Greek tragedy - austerity and asylum in times of crisis

EU rules place the burden of processing asylum requests on periphery countries like Greece, where so many asylum-seekers enter the EU, even as EU-inspired austerity measures undermine Greece’s capacity to treat asylum-seekers fairly, and contribute to the rise in extremist violence against them.   

Internationalizing the human rights movement: creating a North-South bridge?

As Human Rights Watch places more full-time staff in the global South, domestic rights groups in these regions are raising concerns about donor competition and pretensions of northern leadership. Can we move beyond old dichotomies and focus on common goals to draw all areas of the human rights network together? Español العربية

Coming soon – a truly global human rights revolution?

The malaise regarding the future of the human rights movement is misplaced.  The movement is less dependent on (declining) western power than assumed. Further, deep social, technological, and demographic trends all point to more, not less, attention to human rights claims within and between countries.

Will technology transform the human rights movement?

Even as technological developments threaten human rights, they create new opportunities for activism. But there are risks, suggesting a ‘do no harm’ approach to the use of new technology – in both uncovering and reporting human rights abuse.  

Turkey, the EU, and civil society: An incomplete revolution

Turkey’s campaign for EU membership has revolutionized funding for its civil society, but there is still a long way to go. A contribution to the openGlobalrights debate, “funding for human rights.” Türkçe

Human rights activism, the moral imagination and the politics of spectacle

Human rights activism oblivious to context and driven by gimmicks risks being reduced to a spectacle and narrows the moral imagination - a danger apparent in recent Amnesty International campaign initiatives on Russia and Sri Lanka.

Collective apathy: nationalism and human rights in China

Rooted in nationalism and fuelled by state propaganda, collective interests dominate China’s political psychology, making it hard for citizens to become interested in democracy or human rights. To overcome this apathy, the authors call for a new international human rights paradigm to help reorient the Chinese public’s views. 

Funding for human rights: the BRAC experience

Over four decades, BRAC has become one of the largest and most effective NGOs in the world, with outstanding success in incorporating human rights into its programs and resisting untoward donor pressure. For Southern actors looking for funding and programming within their own societies, the BRAC model is particularly instructive.

Human rights and the ‘new’ Latin American left

A decade of progressive politics in Latin America has left a mixed human rights record; somewhat positive as regards economic and social rights, many setbacks in the protection of civil liberties, and continued threats to the collective rights of indigenous peoples. Español.

In for a bumpy ride: international aid and the closing space for domestic NGOs

The global pushback against domestic NGOs has arrived. International donors must learn to cope, but it won’t be easy. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, “Funding for human rights.”  EspañolFrançaisالعربية.

When more is less – Israel-Palestine and human rights scrutiny

People disagree as to whether there is too much or too little international attention given to Israel’s human rights record. Clearly, it deserves scrutiny, but a commitment to universalism suggests other countries also deserve  attention - more than they currently receive

East African rights activists are badly out of touch

The high-minded words of East African activists are often lost on their intended beneficiaries, many of whom are members of the rural poor. A contribution from Mali to the openGlobalRights debate, “Human Rights: Mass or Elite Movement?”