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 and action 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".


Videos

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, German or Portuguese.

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, German or Portuguese.

=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.

The “Faith for Rights” framework has also been used by faith-based actors and civil society organizations. For example, the G20 Interfaith Forums in Buenos Aires and Osaka yielded the policy recommendation to reduce incitement to hatred by supporting religious leaders and faith-based actors in fulfilling their human rights responsibilities as summarized in the Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments.  Also referring to the Beirut Declaration, the Global Forum on Faith Action for Children on the Move called in its action plan for designing and implementing projects and initiatives aimed at promoting respect for and understanding of minority groups, including those with different beliefs, faiths and religions, to reduce violence, xenophobic narratives and nurture peaceful societies. Furthermore, the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process organized in October 2019 a “Faith for Rights” seminar in Nicosia, discussing the role that faith communities can play in combatting human trafficking and supporting victims.  In November 2019, Arigatou International published a multi-religious study entitled “Faith and Children’s Rights”, which also draws upon the Beirut Declaration.

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)
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)