Legal systems may be used by religions as a means to bring about legally enforced actions. Often the law is used as a means to enforce censorship by banning considered blasphemous or defamatory elements in society. This may ensure defending dogmas by obliterating dissent; at shielding the purity and the souls of both believers and non-believers in the community and at protecting the institutions of religion, whether the hierarchy personally or its extensions, from loss of political, economic or social advantages. Legal systems may be heavily scrutinized by religion in some countries or areas such as state religions and/or where strong religious sentiment of a homogeneous nature is characteristic. In other countries the legal system may be fully independent from the religious body.
Legal action taken by religious authorities may be exhibited in Islamic countries. Examples of what the religious authorities may use the legal system for include banning or censoring school materials (including textbooks, displays, audio-visual products), and public communications of any kind such as speeches, billboard messages, posters, signs, hand-out pamphlets, circulars or circulated private letters. For example, an egyptian film was banned because it showed the shadow of the Prophet Muhammed's camel. Legal action may also be used to withhold scientific information, world or local news; to prevent the propagation of considered (western) ideas such as the equal and independent women vis-a-vis men, legal abortion for medical reasons, and the evolution of man in nature.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.