So here we are:
The U.N.'s top human rights body has approved a proposal by Muslim nations urging the passage of laws protecting religion from criticism.
Members of the Human Rights Council voted 23 in favor of a resolution Thursday to combat "defamation of religion." Eleven nations, mostly from the West, opposed the resolution and 13 countries abstained.
The resolution was proposed by Pakistan. Muslim countries have cited the inflammatory effect of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an example of unacceptable free speech.
Critics say the resolution, while not binding, will have a chilling effect on free speech and may worsen relations between faiths.
And here's Roy W Brown at the Index on Censorship:
Slowly but inexorably the shutters are coming down on what history will surely recall as one of the high-points of human civilisation: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first shot was fired by Ayatollah Khomeini shortly after he came to power in the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when he said: ‘When we want to know about human rights we do not go to the UN, we go to the Holy Quran.’ Since then, Islamic states and their allies have been slowly whittling away at the Universal Declaration and its counterpart in international law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Within the UN system, structures and procedures put in place to monitor compliance with the ICCPR have been undermined and weakened in the name of regional and cultural differences. The mandates of the Special Rapporteurs (special investigators) charged with exposing and documenting human rights abuses have been rewritten to reduce their scope for action, while a new ‘code of conduct’ gives the states under investigation the right to challenge all and any of the investigator’s findings before they are published. Investigators who used to have an inviolate period of tenure can now be dismissed after one year if they upset the target of their investigations. The very concept of ‘country-specific’ mandates is under threat. Within the past year the mandates of several special investigators have been abruptly terminated.
At the same time, the concept that human rights are universal and vested in the individual has been challenged by the introduction of rights vested in the group — such as ‘the right to development’ — and by regional and cultural variants on universality. For example, the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights has added ‘peoples’ as the rightful beneficiaries of human rights, so that governments, as their legal representatives, have assumed for themselves the rights of their people.
Finally, freedom of expression is coming under increasing threat as the Islamic states seek special protection against ‘defamation’ of their religion.
How has all this come about?
The answer, sadly, is that the majority of member states of the Human Rights Council are united in a single purpose: not the promotion and protection of human rights, but the prevention of the exposure of their own human rights abuses.