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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Update on State Department-OIC Conference in DC: "The Istanbul Process"

The Legal Project

by Ann Snyder • Dec 13, 2011

The Legal Project recently reported that the Obama Administration would be holding meetings this week in Washington on "implementing" UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18. (See Why is the Obama Administration Giving the OIC a Say in Our Right to Free Speech?) On December 13th, Nina Shea, Director of Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, reported on the first session of the three-day, closed-to-the-public conference called "The Istanbul Process."

According to Shea, her ability to report on the details is limited by the fact she has only been invited to attend the opening and closing sessions, and attendees were asked to follow "Chatham House Rules," which "forbid releasing anything about a specific delegation or quoting for attribution." So much for the transparency Obama promised! These sessions should not be happening at all, but as they proceed they should be open to the public.

Readers can view Shea's account here. At least some of the initial remarks from the conference were released and are available for viewing here.

US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook, stated this weekend:

We expect this meeting will be the first in a series of such "Istanbul Process" meetings that will help direct efforts and resources toward finding real and effective measures against intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief, as delineated in Resolution 16/18, which are fully consistent with freedom of expression." (emphasis added)

Freedom of expression by whose definition? The Obama Administration should end "The Istanbul Process" now.