Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on "Faith for Rights"

"We hope the ‘Faith for Rights’ framework will also inspire interdisciplinary research on questions related to faith and rights. Deeper exploration of the ethical and spiritual foundations provided by religions and beliefs can help to debunk the myth that human rights are solely Western values. On the contrary: the human rights agenda is rooted in cultures across the world. Respect for human life, and human dignity, wellbeing and justice, are common to us all. 'Faith' can indeed stand up for ‘Rights’ so that both enhance each other." 

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet

In March 2017, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched the "Faith for Rights" framework (PDF) with an expert workshop in Beirut. This framework 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, High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein 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 on 28-29 March 2017 adopted the Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on "Faith for Rights".


Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

OHCHR Expert meeting on "Faith for Rights"

Beirut Declaration (March 2017)

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, Serbian, Greek, Turkish or German.

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.

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet stressed that the "Faith for Rights" framework aims at transforming messages of mercy, compassion and solidarity into inter-communal and faith-based projects towards social, developmental and environmental change (see her video message to a meeting of the ACT Alliance in June 2019). Furthermore, the High Commissioner underlined the importance of governments, religious authorities and a wide range of civil society actors working jointly to uphold human dignity and equality for all (see her press release in April 2019).

Download a PDF file with the 18 commitments on "Faith for Rights" in EnglishFrenchArabic, RussianAlbanianSerbian, Greek, Turkish or German.

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)

On 6-7 December 2017, more than 100 States, national human rights institutions, regional organizations, religious authorities and faith-based civil society actors participated in the Rabat+5 symposium, which was held on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Rabat Plan of Action (see concept note).

In his opening statement, the High Commissioner urged the various stakeholders to implement and support concrete "Faith for Rights" projects, notably at the grassroots level. During the Rabat+5 symposium, sixteen civil society organizations and OHCHR’s Regional Office for Middle East and North Africa presented their projects and areas of future cooperation on combatting discrimination on the basis of religion and enhancing the role of faith-based actors in the defence of human dignity (see programme).

Furthermore, an academic initiative presented the "Faith for Rights" online platform, which will serve as an inventory of relevant actors and projects in order to disseminate the 18 commitments, collect capacity building approaches and facilitate networking. 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 Rabat+5 symposium offered an opportunity for the various stakeholders to engage with several experts who had contributed to the elaboration of the Rabat Plan of Action and the 18 commitments on "Faith for Rights" and to hear experiences in the area of combatting violence in the name of religion, both by State representatives, national human rights institutions and civil society actors. The participation of a number of mandate holders of international human rights mechanisms also enriched the discussions at the Rabat+5 symposium from a human rights perspective (see Chairman’s final statement).

The Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on "Faith for Rights" have been referred to in several thematic and country-specific reports by the UN Secretary-General (concerning minorities’ rightscombating intolerance,  the UN operations in Cyprus and the work of the Organization), the High Commissioner (in his annual report, update on the situation of human rights of Rohingya people and thematic reports concerning minorities’ rights,  combating intolerancepreventing human rights abuses, and youth and human rights), Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (in reports to the General Assembly and Human Rights Council, also annexing the full text to UN Doc. A/HRC/40/58) and Treaty Bodies. For example, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women raised the "Faith for Rights" framework in their dialogues with States parties since July 2017, which was also reflected in the Committee’s concluding observations.

Geneva seminar (February 2018)

On 16 February 2018, the UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development, Musawah and OHCHR co-organized a seminar on "Religion & Rights: Strengthening Common Ground". The day-long seminar in Geneva (see programme) brought together civil society activists, UN officials and Member States to share diverse new initiatives in reconciling religion and rights to build common ground to advance human rights for all. The Geneva seminar:

  • Introduced international initiatives that promote a rights-based understanding of religion to build common ground between faith and rights;
  • Explored ways to enhance collaboration and more effective engagement with the international system to promote human rights for all; and
  • Highlighted good practices and possible approaches towards reform of discriminatory laws and practices in the name of religion to strengthen government compliance with international commitments and treaty obligations.

Youth workshop in Tunis (May 2018)

From 2 to 5 May 2018, OHCHR organized a regional workshop in Tunis on the role of youth faith actors in promoting human rights in the Middle East and North Africa region. The participants included young human rights activists, religious actors, women human rights defenders, human rights educators and government officials. They made the following main recommendations for follow-up:

  • Youth in the Middle East and North Africa region should be considered as a key partner in promoting tolerance and combatting radicalisation. 
  • OHCHR should strengthen its technical and financial support to youth-led projects.
  • OHCHR should also lead the development of capacity-building and training tools, especially for faith-based actors.

Regional workshop in Marrakech (November 2018)

From 5 to 8 November 2018, OHCHR organized a regional workshop in Marrakech, in partnership with Morocco’s national human rights institution. The workshop for 40 participants from 14 countries of the Middle East and North Africa region was fully gender-balanced and also included three persons with disabilities. The experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, trained the participants on international human rights treaties and engaging with UN mechanisms; how to protect and promote the rights of religious minorities; and ways to combat hate speech, notably through the Rabat Plan of Action as well as Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments. Furthermore, the workshop included a specific gender perspective with panel discussions on the integration of women and girls in decision-making and enhancing women’s participation in public affairs through CEDAW and the Sustainable Development Goals. The programme was interactive, with each participant presenting their national experiences, good practices and innovative ideas to take forward. The workshop included many practical exercises, including to summarize each of the 18 commitments on “Faith for Rights” into a tweet of less than 140 characters (see links below).

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
Download the full report and outlook on "Faith for Rights" (PDF)
Download a one-page flyer on the "Faith for Rights" framework (PDF)
Download a summary of the 18 commitments: English, French, Arabic or calligraphies (PDF)
Download an Arabic compilation of human rights standards for faith actors (PDF)