We are witnessing the signing of another “non-binding” accord from a world-wide organization.

I remember a theologian talking about the 10 Commandments and how in some religions they had morphed into suggestions. Seems we are going through a similar metamorphosis regarding accords. From suggestions to legally binding-or at least treated that way.

The latest incarnation of an accord; a non-binding agreement, is the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. How do I know it is a non-binding agreement? The pact’s preamble states explicitly that it “reaffirms the sovereign right of states to determine their national migration policy,” meaning governments will not sign away their rights to design their migration policies by signing onto the pact . And because we have been told the pact sets out a “non-legally binding, cooperative framework,” meaning it’s more of a declaration rather than a legally binding treaty.

The Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration purports to set out “a common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migration” in the form of 23 objectives. Some cover issues of human rights, and call for the international community to combat trafficking and smuggling, reduce the reliance on immigration detention centres, stray away from discriminatory migration policies and take measures to protect refugees returning to their home countries from unlawful imprisonment, torture and abuse.

Canada played an active role in driving the agreement forward, and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen signed the accord despite reservations on the part of many Canadians and the concern shared that foreign entities-The UN-could interfere in a nation’s laws about immigration.

For instance: Objective 17 of the agreement  states that countries should “promote independent, objective and quality reporting of media outlets… including by sensitizing and educating media professionals on migration-related issues and terminology.”

However, the pact also says signatories must commit to protecting free speech, “recognizing that an open and free debate contributes to a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of migration.”

Really. This accord, after proposing limits on what one can and cannot say about migration and immigrants, also says this should have no effect on free speech? As if free speech hasn’t been under attack following other non-binding motions?

There are multiple motions, worldwide, about the irrational fear of Islam and one who shares that irrational fear(not quite sure of the meaning of irrational in this context) can be taken to court, banned from a country, sent to jail.

There is the Runnymede Trust of 1997.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance has a definition of Islamophobia.

 “a baseless hostility and fear vis-à-vis Islam, and as a result, a fear of and aversion towards all Muslims or the majority of them. [Islamophobia] also refers to the practical consequences of this hostility in terms of discrimination, prejudices, unequal treatment of which Muslims (individuals and communities) are victims and their exclusion from major political and social spheres.”

And the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Observatory on Islamophobia defined Islamophobia as:

“an irrational or very powerful fear or dislike of Islam and the feeling as if the Muslims are under siege and attack. Islamophobia however goes much beyond this and incorporates racial hatred, intolerance, prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping. The phenomenon of Islamophobia in its essence is a religion-based resentment.”

Motion 103 in Canada: a non-binding motion that called on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” The motion also called on the government to take steps to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear.”

Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum  wrote, “Now that Islamophobia has been condemned, this is not the end, but rather the beginning.”

Despite assurances that free speech would not be impeded, we watched as media across Europe edited itself-not reporting on events that might frighten the public. We have watched as European governments have prevented media outlets from sharing facts as those facts might lead to a backlash against Muslims.

A report by Quilliam an anti-extremism think tank “urged politicians and the police to dismiss political correctness and fears of being branded racist to ensure they can tackle the problem of grooming gangs head on.” This would not have been written if those in power had not felt compelled to remain silent.

In Canada our Prime Minister decided that it is irrational to fear the return of Canadians who fought for ISIS.

In Britain people were arrested in 2013 for social media posts about Islam following the murder of Lee Rigby, a drummer in the Royal Regiment of Fusliers, who  was run down in a car and then hacked and stabbed to death by two men with knives and a cleaver. They told a man video recording the scene that it was vengeance for the killings of Muslims by the British Army. The arrests came at the behest of British Muslims, who feared a backlash against them following the death of Rigby.

Fear of backlash is enough to jail a person in a liberal democracy?

A Swedish woman was sent to jail for comments about Islam and migration.

The European Court of Human Rights  declared defamatory statements about the prophet Muhammad are not covered by free-speech protections.

Leaders in what is described as an alt-right organization were found guilty of Islamophobia. Whether or not you agree with these views, when did sharing views becomes a “jailable” action?

Tommy Robinson, another one tarred with the label alt-right (Islamophobe) has been sent to jail for his views on Islam.

Matthew Doyle was arrested  on charges of inciting racial hatred on social media, after he tweeted about asking a Muslim woman to “explain” the terror attacks in Brussels. Arrested for asking a question?

And Canadian journalist Lauren Southern was banned from Britain for fear she would upset Muslims in the country.

Remember the Paris Accord? Another non-binding suggestion.

“The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts. There will also be a global stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.”

An accord based on “best efforts,” whatever that means. And who decides if you have put forward your best efforts? And what are the consequences if you don’t?

According to the website Climateactiontracker.org  every nation it tracks save for Morocco and Gambia is falling short of its Paris commitments. Reducing the role of coal in energy markets? In India and China, which account for more than one-third of the world’s population, things are moving in precisely the opposite direction. This is not a climate-change policy. It’s a politics of gestures, destined to achieve the opposite of what it intends — at the expense of the people who can least afford it.

Although this is an accord-not legally-binding, there is no end to the bullying of those who disagree with the premise and the suggestions.

Meanwhile, in Canada our government is bent on following the accords as if they were laws written in stone, bringing the energy sector to its knees and taxing Canadians in the name of carbon reduction.

Then there is France.

These accords are not treated as suggestions by the powers that be; politicians, elected or appointed, professors, and my favourite, the pundits.It seems to me if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck-it’s a law not a suggestion.

These accords are not in the least bit benign. We are witnessing the most egregious results of these “non-binding” suggestions: a full frontal attack on freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of thought; attacks on critical thinking and critical analysis.

Silence is not an option when freedoms are being eroded by non-governmental accords.


From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”