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OHCHR expert meeting on “Faith for Rights”

Video Message by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein,
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Beirut, 28-29 March 2017

I warmly welcome you to this expert meeting on “Faith for Rights”, which provides space for a long-overdue cross-disciplinary reflection on the deep, and mutually enriching, connections between religions and human rights.

Our objective is to foster the development of peaceful societies, where diversity is not just tolerated but fully respected and celebrated. Societies which uphold human dignity and equality for all.

The UN Charter speaks of the world's "faith in fundamental human rights". You have come together to discuss faith for rights – based on our common values and hopes.

“Faith for rights” should also enhance the freedom of religion or belief, which is integral to the universal and interdependent freedoms that my Office upholds. I very much hope we can work together to promote this and all other human rights, and to combat violations.

Hatred, discrimination, oppression, injustice, marginalisation and extreme poverty: these are drivers of conflict, destruction and misery. All have common roots. The absence of justice. The absence of empathy and solidarity, which impel true care for all our fellow human beings.

They also have common solutions: respect for the dignity, equality, and human rights of all.

I believe religious leaders, with their considerable influence on the hearts and minds of millions of people, are potentially very important human rights actors. They can play a crucial positive role in helping to shape our present and future. In 2012, the Rabat Plan of Action laid out some of religious leaders' core responsibilities against incitement to hatred. Today I hope your discussions can build on that, to articulate the human rights responsibilities of religious leaders and look at how they could be appropriately supported.

I am convinced that rather than focusing on the tension zones between some religious interpretations and human rights, we can find common ground and shared goals.

I look to you to help us establish a vision and a roadmap to improve the lives of people across the world.

I ask you to stand up for human rights, at this time of great turmoil in world affairs, and to help safeguard the deep and essential principles of equality and human dignity which risk being swept away.

I wish you fruitful discussions. Thank you.

Watch the High Commissioner's video message

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