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Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
Antisemitic manifestations and incidents, from tacit, covert and coded forms to discriminatory behavior, to harassment and to violence are ongoing and pose serious challenges that affect whole societies. Antisemitism not only affects Jewish people, individually or collectively, but, as an ideology based on hate and prejudice, it attacks the fabric of societies, threatening the realization of all people’s human rights and the overall security of states where it occurs. Antisemitism also violates the right to freedom of religion or belief.
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief explores the global phenomenon of antisemitism – prejudice against, or hatred of, Jews – and its impact on the right to freedom of religion or belief of Jewish individuals and communities worldwide. Read more in the Special Rapporteur’s September 2019 report (A/74/358) on antisemitism.
In his 2019 report to the UN General Assembly A/74/358, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, identified violence, discrimination and expressions of hostility motivated by antisemitism as a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief. A subsequent review undertaken by the Special Rapporteur of trends in antisemitism since 2019 revealed many positive developments in combating antisemitism but also enduring challenges. Therefore, the Special Rapporteur developed a Follow-up Action Plan outlining key eight recommendations intended to enable key stakeholders to make further progress in implementing the recommendations set out in the 2019 report on antisemitism and to address the serious challenges identified. In formulating them, the Special Rapporteur engaged with a number of national, regional and international actors, including governmental actors, international human rights experts and civil society actors, committed to combating ‘hate speech’ generally and antisemitism specifically.
See the Action Plan
Taking Action to Combat Antisemitism: Follow-up Action Plan for Advancing the Implementation of the Recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in his 2019 Report to the UN General Assembly (A/74/358)
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed in collaboration with the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) convened a consultation on “Developing an Action Plan for Monitoring and Combating Global Antisemitism” to discuss efforts made by various actors to combat antisemitism since the Special Rapporteur’s report to the 74th session of the General Assembly. Participants included representatives of intergovernmental organizations, governmental envoys on antisemitism, and representatives of antisemitism monitoring organizations and Jewish communities from around the world.
Participants discussed and welcomed the many meaningful actions to counter antisemitism that have been taken since 2019. However, participants also observed that antisemitic incidents and attitudes have not abated and antisemitism, both online and offline continues to be a threat to Jews everywhere, requiring sustained vigilance and urgent action.
* Note: OHCHR is not responsible for the content of external websites. The report of the consultation, which was prepared by the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, reflects the perspectives of the participants and not necessarily that of the Special Rapporteur.
The Special Rapporteur participated in the UNESCO’s Webinar Series on Combating Racism, Discrimination and Exclusion in the Current Pandemic on “Addressing antisemitism at the time of COVID-19”. The pandemic has triggered a fast-spreading epidemic of hate speech and misinformation, including clearly antisemitic conspiracy theories. In the early months of the pandemic, the World Jewish Congress recorded a 30% increase in antisemitic content on social media. The webinar examined together with different experts on these disturbing trends and key challenges; and sought possible solutions to combat antisemitism in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. It also stressed that youth engagement is key to counter the rise of antisemitism spurred on by COVID-19.
“Muslims and Jews have much in common, in religion, in history, and in culture. It is politics, feeding off ignorance, that divides us,” said the Special Rapporteur in an online event on “How Muslims and Jews Can Combat Antisemitism Together” co-hosted by Combat Anti-Semitism with the American Sephardi Federation and the Muslim World League. The event featured a panel of human rights experts, and faith leaders alongside a special address from Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa, Secretary-General of Muslim World League.
The Special Rapporteur participated in an online forum for Special Envoys & Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA) hosted by the World Jewish Congress, and stressed that “cognitive liberation from ignorance” is the first step in combating antisemitism worldwide. The expert also reminded that the UN Rabat Plan of Action on combatting hate speech alongside the Istanbul Process are useful tools to be used at institutional level.
The World Jewish Congress hosted a WebTalk featuring the Special Rapporteur to discuss about his work in mainstreaming efforts to combat antisemitism.
The Special Rapporteur participated in an online event “A Year Since Poway: Lessons from the Synagogue Shooting Heard Around the World” organized by Combat Anti-Semitism. The event paid special tribute to Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was tragically killed in the attack. See a short video of “Remember the Poway Shooting”.
The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies together with OHCHR, the mandate of freedom of religion or belief, UNESCO, OSCE | ODIHR and the World Jewish Congress jointly organized the public panel discussion on "Different Approaches to Promoting Tolerance through Education". The panel discussion explored the similarities and differences in both the needs for, and possible approaches to, using education as a vehicle to promote tolerance and create an inclusive space for all.
UNESCO, OSCE | ODIHR, World Jewish Congress, OHCHR and the mandate of freedom of religion or belief co-organized international workshop on “The role of education in addressing antisemitism”. Educational systems represent an essential component to address antisemitism and other forms of prejudice. These systems play a crucial role in building students’ resilience against prejudice and discrimination and in fostering an inclusive climate in schools that is respectful of human rights and human dignity. For education to fulfill its role in combating antisemitism, specific curricula and school management policies need to be in place, as well as hands-on guidance for educators on how to effectively address antisemitism. The workshop brought together policymakers and education specialists from 62 countries.
UNESCO and the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief hosted a one-day expert consultation meeting on antisemitism at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The meeting was part of a series of international consultation meetings organized by the UN Special Rapporteur in view of his report to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.