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

ReligionIn 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.

UN strategy to combat religious intolerance - is it fit for purpose?

As religious intolerance and discrimination increase, is the UN’s current strategic response – as set out in a Human Rights Council resolution and related plans - fit for purpose?  Españolالعربية


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

Latest responses:

Religious conversions in India – keeping human rights at the core

Siddharth Peter de Souza

Tradition should defer to human rights, not the other way around

Leo Igwe

What does the “right to life” really mean for Catholics in Mexico?

Renée de la Torre

Religion and human rights - partnership with a dose of pragmatism

Adem Kassi Abebei

In Africa, human rights activists cannot work with religion

Simon Ssenkaayi

Filling the gap: why prayer camps in Ghana are sometimes the only option

Amafo Ofori Atiemo

On the margins: secular human rights in Turkey

Pinar Tremblay

Does “religious freedom” include the right to convert or scam others?

José Zalaquett

The (in)human dimension of Ghana’s prayer camps

Shantha Rau Barriga

Should it matter how the mass is mobilized?

Kechi Nomu

Preaching for human rights

Beatrice Lamwaka

Myth and reality: the Catholic Church and human rights in Latin America

Ariadna Estévez

Pentecostal Christianity: retrogressive force or dynamic ally?

Richard L. Wood

Whose faith wins? Keeping religion out of the law

Geraldyn Ezeakile

Don’t merge human rights with religion, even in Africa

Achieng Maureen Akena

The real power of rights is not religion

Michael Bochenek

In Africa, human rights and religion often go together

Abamfo Ofori Atiemo

No human rights without God

Daniel Philpott

The paradox of religion and rights

Jeremy Carrette

Using faith to reinforce human rights of Bahá’ís in Iran

Nazila Ghanea

Religion as a human rights liability

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, Français


Latest responses:

To end manual scavenging in India, Hindu religious leaders must speak up

Seema Guha

The politicization of Hindu faith in India

Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ

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, العربية


Latest responses:

Arguing like Abraham for Gaza’s innocents

Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Occu-Kashrut and ethical Jewish consumerism

Louis Frankenthaler

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

Latest responses:

Faith in rights: ethics of the public square

Amyn B. Sajoo

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, العربية


Human rights abuse in Burma and the role of Buddhist nationalism

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. “Religion and Human Rights”. ภาษาไทย,


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, Français


All articles and responses in date order:

Religion inspires in ways that international law does not

Using extreme examples to justify a purely secular human rights approach does a disservice to the many religious leaders doing progressive work. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human Rights. العربية

Home, for Algeria’s Jews, is elsewhere

Intolerance towards Algerian Jews has been driven by geopolitics and history, not religion. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human Rights. العربية

In Egypt, human rights need religion

Religious progressives are vital for Egypt’s human rights; secular groups can’t do it alone. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human Rightsالعربية

Secularism can sometimes undermine women’s rights

Rights activists tend to identify secularism with women’s rights, but if we don’t engage with religion, we can’t effectively confront many wrong-headed policies and ideas. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human Rights.

Incorporating religion into human rights: a bad idea for Egypt

Incorporating religion into human rights in Egypt would have disastrous effects, considering the intense and often violent discrimination against non-Muslims. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on religion and human rightsA contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human Rights. العربية

UN strategy to combat religious intolerance - is it fit for purpose?

As religious intolerance and discrimination increase, is the UN’s current strategic response – as set out in a Human Rights Council resolution and related plans - fit for purpose? A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human Rights. Españolالعربية

Women’s rights in Tunisia: promising future or religio-political game?

Women in Tunisia have long enjoyed rights that are very clear on paper. In practice, however, the government’s willingness to enforce these rights seems to depend on the religio-political game of the day. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human RightsFrançaisالعربية

Religious conversions in India – keeping human rights at the core

Religion is not only about belief but also about its capacity for human well-being. Therefore, human rights should be at the core of an individual’s right to evaluate their religious alternatives. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, Religion and Human Rightsहिंदी