Religion and freedom of religion or belief literacy

Religion has long been a factor in persecutions, manifestations of violence, terrorism or extremism and hatred. The renewed attention attributed to religion as a factor of international politics and socio-economy may naturally focus on those religions that can make a difference, i.e. politically influential, economically strong and culturally hegemonic religions. This can lead to serious discrimination against certain religions or beliefs; or new forms of ignorance and stigmatization. There is a need to create an inclusive space for all. Instead of providing protection to religions in themselves (i.e. to religious truth claims, identities, reputations etc.), freedom of religion or belief (FORB) protects believers and non-believers. The demands for better understanding of religions or beliefs in international politics can no longer to be overlooked, however, it should be connected with a solid understanding of FORB, as an integral part of international human rights law as well. Hence, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief strongly encourages the promotion of both religious and FORB literacy.

Recent activities

23 September 2016

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief with the sponsorship of the delegation of the European Union to the UN in Geneva and the World Council of Churches (WCC) organized a panel discussion on “Religion and Religious Freedom in International Diplomacy” during the 33rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

View the press releases* of the side event by the EU and WCC

22-23 September 2016

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in collaboration with the World Council of Churches and Finnish Ecumenical Council organised a workshop on “Religion and Religious Freedom in International Diplomacy” with the following objectives:

  1. Understanding the use of religion in foreign policies including in development and humanitarian aid;
  2. Sensitizing the need of both “literacies” on religions and religious freedom in international diplomacy and foreign policies;
  3. Finding ways to contribute to the advancement of religious literacy and freedom of religion or belief.

See Summary Brief of the Workshop

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