1st Edition

Free Speech, Religion and the United Nations The Political Struggle to Define International Free Speech Norms

By Heini í Skorini Copyright 2020
    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    268 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the political struggle to interpret and define the meaning, the scope and the implications of human rights norms in general and freedom of expression in particular.

    From the Rushdie affair and the Danish cartoon affair to the Charlie Hebdo massacre and draconian legislation against blasphemy worldwide, the tensions between free speech ideals and religious sensitivities have polarized global public opinion and the international community of states, triggering fierce political power struggles in the corridors of the UN. Inspired by theories of norm diffusion in International Relations, Skorini investigates how the struggle to define the limits of free speech vis-à-vis religion unfolds within the UN system. Revealing how human rights terminology is used and misused, the book also considers how the human rights vision paradoxically contains the potential to justify human rights violations in practice. The author explains how states exercise power within the field of international human rights politics and how non-democratic states strategically apply mainstream human rights language and secular human rights law in order to justify authoritarian religious censorship norms both nationally and internationally.

    This interdisciplinary book will appeal to scholars and students researching international human rights, religion and politics. The empirical chapters are also relevant for professionals and activists within the field of human rights.

    1 Introduction 2 Theoretical Literature Review 3 OIC’s Discourse on Freedom of Expression and Religion Prior to 1999 4 Mapping OIC’s Discourse on Freedom of Expression vis-à-vis Religion: Defamation of Religions as a Human Rights Violation 5 Defeating OIC’s Free Speech Agenda: Internal and External Factors Which Have Enabled and Constrained OIC’s Agency in the UN 6 Conclusion: Human Rights Language as a Double-Edged Sword: Empowering the Individual or Empowering the State


      Heini í Skorini holds a PhD in International Relations from King's College London, UK. He is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of History and Social Sciences at the University of the Faroe Islands (Denmark). He teaches international relations, human rights, and religion and politics, both internationally and in a local context. His research interests include religion and society, religion and politics, human rights, freedom of expression, human reasoning in relation to science, religion and political controversy.