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Universal Declaration on Circumcision, Excision, and Incision

WHEREAS, the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948 adopted and proclaimed the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS; and

WHEREAS, said Declaration affirms to "strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance...;"

WHEREAS, Article 2 of said Declaration affirms that "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status;" and

WHEREAS, Article 5 of said Declaration affirmst that: "NO ONE SHALL BE SUBJECTED TO TORTURE OR TO CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT;" and

WHEREAS, the practice of medically unnecessary surgical circumcisions, excisions and incisions on male and female genitalia that are conducted:

  1. without anesthesia, inflicts incalculable pain and human suffering, constitutes and act of TORTURE within the terms of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
  2. with anesthesia, constitutes and "act of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" within the terms of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

WHEREAS, other forms of male and female genital mutilation that are conducted as a matter of social and religious custom, e.g. as in "ritual rites of passage," constitute acts of "TORTURE (AND) CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT" within the language of Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

WHEREAS, the above violations of Articles 2 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights frequently involves helpless newborns and adolescents—religious and social customs notwithstanding;

The First International Symposium on Circumcision:
  1. Calls upon all persons and institutions to engage in "progressive measures" to end the practice of torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment that is inherent in circumcisions and other forms of male and female genital mutilation that are conducted as a matter of social-cultural and religious custom and which are de facto violations of Articles 2 and 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
  2. Calls upon all humane nations to pass legislation prohibiting the practice of torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment that is inherent in circumcisions and other forms of male and female genital mutilation that are conducted as a matter of social-cultural and religious custom which are de facto violations of Articles 2 and 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
  3. Calls upon all humane nations to petition the INTERNATIONAL COURT OF THE HAGUE to formally render an advisory opinion and judgement that the practice of medically unnecessary surgical circumcisions, with or without anesthesia; and other forms of male and female genital mutilation that are conducted as a matter of social-cultural and religious custom, e.g. in "ritual rites of passage" constitute de facto acts of violation of Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which specifically states:
"NO ONE SHALL BE SUBJECTED TO TORTURE OR TO CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT."

Submitted to the General Assembly, The First International Symposium on Circumcision, March 1-3, 1989, Anaheim, California by James W. Prescott, Ph.D. which was passed unanimously.

The substance of the above resolution was also passed unanimously at the 1988 Annual Meeting of the The Humanist Fellowship of San Diego.




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