UN Special Rapporteur’s Report to the Human Rights Council on Fundamentalism and Assembly and Association Rights


In recent years, there has been a perceived rise in the expression of fundamentalism in many contexts across the world. Despite the frequent use of the term, “fundamentalism” remains a word that is rarely defined with any specificity. Common use generally centers on religious fundamentalism, and this is perhaps what comes to mind first for most people.

But fundamentalism can encompass much more than religion, and in this report (A/HRC/32/36) the Special Rapporteur takes a much broader view of the term. He believes that fundamentalism can and should be defined more expansively, to include any movements – not simply religious ones – that advocate strict and literal adherence to a set of basic beliefs or principles. Adherence to the principles of free market capitalism, for example, has spawned what has been called “market fundamentalism.” And the unbending belief in the superiority of one ethnic group, race, tribe or nationality can lead to what might be called “nationalist fundamentalism.” Numerous other examples are detailed in this report.