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Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights”

In March 2017, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched its initiative on “Faith for Rights” (PDF) with an expert workshop in Beirut. This initiative provides space for a cross-disciplinary reflection on the deep, and mutually enriching, connections between religions and human rights. The objective is to foster the development of peaceful societies, which uphold human dignity and equality for all and where diversity is not just tolerated but fully respected and celebrated.

In his video message, the High Commissioner stressed that religious leaders are potentially very important human rights actors in view of their considerable influence on the hearts and minds of millions of people. The 2012 Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence already laid out some of religious leaders’ core responsibilities against incitement to hatred. Expanding those responsibilities to the full spectrum of human rights, the faith-based and civil society actors participating at the OHCHR workshop in March 2017 adopted the Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights”. 


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Beirut Declaration (March 2017)

The The Beirut Declaration considers that all believers – whether theistic, non-theistic, atheistic or other – should join hands and hearts in articulating ways in which “Faith” can stand up for “Rights” more effectively so that both enhance each other. Individual and communal expression of religions or beliefs thrive and flourish in environments where human rights are protected. Similarly, human rights can benefit from deeply rooted ethical and spiritual foundations provided by religions or beliefs.

Rather than focusing on theological and doctrinal divides, the Beirut Declaration favours the identification of common ground among all religions and beliefs to uphold the dignity and equal worth of all human beings.

The Beirut Declaration reaches out to persons belonging to religions and beliefs in all regions of the world, with a view to enhancing cohesive, peaceful and respectful societies on the basis of a common action-oriented platform which is open to all actors that share its objectives.
Download a PDF file with the Beirut Declaration in EnglishFrenchArabicRussian, Albanian or Serbian.

18 commitments on “Faith for Rights”

Linked to the Beirut Declaration are 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights”, with corresponding follow-up actions. These include the commitments:

  • to prevent the use of the notion of “State religion” to discriminate against any individual or group;
  • to revisit religious interpretations that appear to perpetuate gender inequality and harmful stereotypes or even condone gender-based violence;
  • to stand up for the rights of all persons belonging to minorities;
  • to publicly denounce all instances of advocacy of hatred that incites to violence, discrimination or hostility;
  • to monitor interpretations, determinations or other religious views that manifestly conflict with universal human rights norms and standards;
  • to refrain from oppressing critical voices and to urge States to repeal any existing anti-blasphemy or anti-apostasy laws;
  • to refine the curriculums, teaching materials and textbooks; and
  • to engage with children and youth who are either victims of or vulnerable to incitement to violence in the name of religion.

Download a PDF file with the 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights” in EnglishFrenchArabic, RussianAlbanian or Serbian.

Symposium in Dakar (May 2017)

From 3 to 4 May 2017, OHCHR Regional Office for West Africa organized with the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice a symposium for religious leaders and civil society representatives on the rights of women and children from the perspective of Islam. This symposium in Dakar served as a first test and application of the Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights”.

The Dakar symposium resulted in:

  • The validation after thorough discussions of the 18 commitments framework, while adapting it to the Senegalese context;
  • The creation of a national “Faith for Rights” coalition in Senegal, open to new members from all religions; and
  • A concrete project focusing on Commitment 13 on children’s rights, especially children who are exploited by certain “Marabouts” in the name of religion.

Rabat+5 symposium (December 2017)

Another meeting for States, national human rights institutions, religious authorities and faith-based civil society actors is envisaged on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Rabat Plan of Action on 6-7 December 2017, in Rabat (Morocco).

Its aim is to determine a road map with an analysis of priority areas, outlining good practices and defining means of support to existing and new “Faith for Rights” projects at the local level. In this context, an inventory of relevant actors and projects should be established as a specific project/tool database in order to help identifying existing gaps, define capacity building approaches and linking the dots. The inventory could be housed in interested specialized academic institutions/centres, in an interdisciplinary mode and preferably in different parts of the world to ensure the universality of its outreach and global vision, based on a commonly agreed methodology.

This should also lead to strengthening the capacities of the existing UN human rights mechanisms by providing them with accurate and up-to-date analysis on environments, dynamics and early warning signs of incidents leading to sectarian conflicts and violence committed in the name of religion.

The Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights” has been referred to in several thematic reports by the UN Secretary-General (concerning minorities’ rights and combating intolerance), Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies. For example, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women raised the “Faith for Rights” framework in their dialogues with three States parties in July 2017, which was also reflected in the Committee’s concluding observations.

Faith for RightsShould you have any questions or wish to add your name as a supporter of the Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments, please send an email to faith4rights@ohchr.org
Download the full report and outlook on “Faith for Rights” (PDF)