The “Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy”, or CENTHRA, has been established by the Coalition of Islamic NGOs (NGIs) in the UPR process (MuslimUPRO) as a full-fledged “think tank” focusing on human rights from the Islāmic perspective. The Centre’s primary objective is to provide a proper platform to articulate Malaysia’s model of human rights, while generalizing as well to the broader perspective of defense of the human rights debate within all non-secular cultures. These non-secular cultures are statistically in the majority, after all, within the human community.
After months of research, interaction, intense debate and lobbying on the issues which have brought about the existence of a Muslim response to the United Nations UPR (Universal Periodic Review), CENTHRA is looking forward to instituting a more systematic approach to the human rights debate, and not being limited to the Universal Periodic Review or UPR process. Other important mechanisms within the UN system, either treaty-based or Charter-based, must be understood and analyzed by Muslim activists. And not only do we have to understand these different mechanisms within the UN system, we must also articulate effectively a framework which provides an alternate to the current secular understanding of human rights. Striving towards a more equitable human rights understanding and implementation must be a better approach to resolving the current problems brought about by the existing Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966, and the International Convention on Economic and Social Rights (ICESR) 1966, which all form the International Bill of Rights.
In the 1970′äs, renowned sociologist Ivan Illich published a collection of papers which he called “Energy and Equity”. He thus placed the concept of equity on the ecological map, by using the term to mean more than simple equality. He uses this term to mean an absolutely fair distribution of energy use and resource utilization among all human beings.
Now, as we struggle with “social ecology”, we find we need the term “equity” to describe a concept of human rights that is also absolutely fair, i.e., “equitable”, to everyone. The United Nations has not done this very well, so far. The language of secularism, although claiming otherwise, does not tend to fairness to the non-secular cultures, which are in the human majority, even if not among the richest of groups.
Therefore, CENTHRA should serve the propose of broadening the human rights debate to all nations and cultures by adopting the term “Human Rights Equity” in its formulations. The market for such an intellectual effort appears to be very big now, what with Turkey, and Malaysia herself, and particularly members of the Organization of Islāmic Cooperation (OIC) and some member states of ASEAN, declining loyalty to the re-definition of terms now going on with respect to the UN’s UDHR, by which all UN members are periodically judged and evaluated during the Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva.
If we cannot make this declaration TRULY universal, then the United Nations will end up representing only a minority, liberal and secular view of human justice and social values, which will alienate many well-intended members from further subscription to the original UN ideals, especially in finding what William James called “the moral equivalent of war” for all time to come. The human mind, so espoused by the secularists, can never truly comprehend or replace the various forms of Divine Revelation which inspire human rights ideals for most of the human race.
We hope and pray to see forthcoming articulations by Muslim scholars, intellectuals and leaders of NGIs, who have so far contributed immensely towards the establishment of CENTHRA, which is a collective initiative by the NGIs. And we earnestly hope that the world will listen to our proposals for human rights equity.