Combating discrimination based on religion or belief
In their everyday life, many members of religious or belief communities face discrimination based on their religion or belief. They are unduly restricted in the enjoyment of their civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. As such, members of certain religious or belief communities suffer discrimination in their access to public education, health services or public posts. In extreme cases, some of them are also arrested or killed due to their religious affiliation.
The United Nations has been concerned with this issue since its foundation and the prohibition of religious discrimination is enshrined in all core international human rights treaties. In this regard, States have the duty to refrain from discriminating against individuals or groups based on their religion and belief (obligation to respect); they are required to prevent such discrimination, including from non-State actors (obligation to protect); and must take steps to ensure that, in practice, every person in their territory enjoys all human rights without discrimination of any kind (obligation to fulfil).
Activities of the human rights office
- Supports the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, who is mandated to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and presents recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur presents reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, sends communications on individual cases to Governments and undertakes fact-finding country visits.
- Supports the activities of the Human Rights Committee. The Committee oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which includes Article 2 on non-discrimination and article 18 on freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
- Supports the activities of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In May 2009, the Committee adopted a general comment on Non-Discrimination in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (art. 2, para. 2).