- The emerging counter-defamation of religion discourse: a critical analysis
- Droit et Religions : Annuaire
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL)
The emerging counter-defamation discourse is a morally but above all legally flawed
development. The concept has stirred politicians and academics alike. In the political bodies of the UN, it has divided state representatives into two vehemently opposing camps. In academia, it has largely resulted in critical if not alarming responses. This comes as no surprise if we consider that behind a seemingly benign row over matters of terminology, in actual fact, an attempt at triggering a far-reaching paradigm shift may be hiding. The traditional mechanisms of international human rights law are fairly straightforward: the principal duty-bearer is the state, while the principal rights-holder is the individual. States may be held accountable for either actively infringing upon a person’s fundamental rights, or, occasionally, for failing to pro-actively seek to prevent that certain rights are transgressed. The counter-defamation discourse essentially ushers in -through the back door- a new set of rights-holders: religions per se. Although on the face of it, it may sound as a praiseworthy endeavour to try to awaken or generate a degree of respect for the different religions that are present in a state; this particular approach, however, should be dismissed for the simple reason that it forces individuals to engage in a rather unhealthy competition with religions when it comes to claiming one’s rights and having them guaranteed. In this article it will be argued that, from a human rights perspective, the counter-defamation discourse should be dismissed as a misleading, unnecessary and, ultimately, rather counter-productive development.
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