My comment on the perceived notion that human rights, including international mechanisms like the Universal Periodic Review, are foreign ideas and at odds with religion.
“There’s a misconception that human rights is something from the West … If one looks at the history of the human rights, it has global support,” said Yu Ren Chung from Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).
According to Yu, two of the five authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) were P.C. Chang who was from China, and Charles Malik who was from Lebanon.
The UDHR was subsequently adopted by UN members in 1948, with 48 countries in favour and eight abstained ― mostly from the Soviet bloc.
The representatives also rubbished claims by Muslim NGOs that by ratifying international human rights protocol, Malaysia will open the floodgates to practices that “would threaten the position of Islam” such as same-sex marriages and apostasy.
“Realistically and practically speaking, it seems a far-flung idea, used simply to scare people into taking a position in line with (them) … They choose the most polemic of all topics, we’re not even at that stage yet,” said Suriani.
“By signing (the protocols), it sends a signal that we would like to meet these standards, basic global human rights standards, and one can work progressively to achieve that,” explained Yu.
Yu has also stressed that there are many Muslim countries that have ratified the global protocols, without any sudden spike in same-sex marriages and apostasy.
*Correction: I noted that there were eight or nine drafters of the UDHR, not five.
Read the full article published in The Malay Mail Online on 24 October 2013.