34 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 769 (2011)
Protecting Religions from Defamation: A Threat to Universal Human Rights Standards

handle is hein.journals/hjlpp34 and id is 779 raw text is: PROTECTING RELIGIONS FROM DEFAMATION:
A THREAT TO UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
LEONARD A. LEO,* FELICE D. GAER,7
& ELIZABETH K. CASSIDY***
INTRODUCTION'
Over the past decade, countries from the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC) have been working through the
United Nations system to advance the problematic idea that
there should be laws against the so-called defamation of relig-
ions.2 Although touted as a solution to the very real problems of
religious persecution and discrimination, the OIC-sponsored U.N.
resolutions on religious defamation instead provide justification
for governments to restrict religious freedom and free expression.
They also provide international legitimacy for existing national
laws that punish blasphemy or otherwise ban criticism of a relig-
ion, which often have resulted in gross human rights violations.3
* Chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). US-
CIRF was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor
the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as
defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international
instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President,
Secretary of State, and Congress. See Frequently Asked Questions, U.S. COMMIS-
SION INT'L RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/frequently-
asked-questions.html (last visited March 3, 2011).
** Director, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights;
Commissioner and past Chair (2002-03, 2006-07, 2008-09), USCIRF.
*** Deputy Director for Policy and Research, USCIRF.
1. The Authors adapted this Essay from a USCIRF Policy Focus prepared by the
Authors. See U.S. COMM'N ON INT'L RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, POLICY FOCUS: THE DAN-
GEROUS IDEA OF PROTECTING RELIGIONS FROM DEFAMATION: A THREAT TO UNI-
VERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS: UPDATE FALL 2010 (2010) available at
http://www.uscirf.gov/images/stories/PDFs/ PolicyFocus_ USCIRF-final.pdf.
2. U.S. COMM'N ON INT'L RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, ANNUAL REPORT OF THE UNITED
STATES COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM : MAY 2009, at 229 (2009)
[hereinafter USCIRF 2009 ANNUAL REPORT] available at http://www.uscirf.gov/
images/final%20ar2009 %20with%20cover.pdf.
3. Id.

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