This month, a CRCL representative traveled to Bosnia to serve as a trainer in a unique “Country-to-Country” program designed to promote implementation of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 16/18, which was adopted in March 2011. The UNHRC Resolution 16/18 was sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion and Belief.”
The Resolution focuses on concrete, positive measures that states can take to combat religious bias and intolerance rather than legal measures to restrict speech. For example, the resolution calls on states to take effective measures to prevent discrimination based on religion, to protect the ability of members of all religious communities to exercise their faith and participate fully in society, to speak out against religious hatred and intolerance, and to foster greater outreach by governments to diverse religious communities, among other recommendations.
The “Country-to-Country” program follows the December 2011 Experts’ Meeting held in the U.S. which brought together ministry of justice officials, legal experts, human rights officials, and others involved in the enforcement, drafting, policy, or community engagement relating to anti-discrimination laws, hate crime laws, and other legal measures in line with Resolution 16/18. At that meeting, participants discussed comparative legal frameworks, comparative enforcement mechanisms and tools, case studies, and best practices in government engagement with diverse religious communities.
The “Country-to-Country” program that took place in Bosnia was a pilot-program that allowed for a deeper dive into comparative legal frameworks, best practices, and technical assistance, and involved a much larger number of individuals from Bosnia. CRCL’s representative provided in-depth descriptions and simulations, including hypothetical exercises, of the Department’s community engagement programs tailored to topics related to Bosnia. Based on lessons-learned from the Bosnia program, CRCL and DOJ’s Civil Rights Division plan on implementing similar programs with four additional countries in the future.