Combating intolerance against persons based on religion or belief

“There is a rising tide of incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence against persons based on religion or belief, both online and offline, often fuelled by radical nationalist politics. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, an upsurge in hate speech and discrimination targeted at Jews, Muslims, Christians, Baha’is and minority groups has been observed. To stem that tide, it is critical that States step up their efforts to fight discrimination, hatred and violence, using the action plan as a compass.”

Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, A/HRC/46/67, 11 January 2021

Since March 2011, the General Assembly and Human Rights Council have adopted resolutions on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief. In resolution 75/187 of 16 December 2020, the General Assembly:

  1. Calls upon all States to take the following actions, as called for by the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect by:
    1. Encouraging the creation of collaborative networks to build mutual understanding, promoting dialogue and inspiring constructive action towards shared policy goals and the pursuit of tangible outcomes, such as servicing projects in the fields of education, health, conflict prevention, employment, integration and media education;
    2. Creating an appropriate mechanism within Governments to, inter alia, identify and address potential areas of tension between members of different religious communities and assisting with conflict prevention and mediation;
    3. Encouraging the training of government officials in effective outreach strategies;
    4. Encouraging the efforts of leaders to discuss within their communities the causes of discrimination and developing strategies to counter those causes;
    5. Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence;
    6. Adopting measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief;
    7. Understanding the need to combat denigration and the negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred, by strategizing and harmonizing actions at the local, national, regional and international levels through, inter alia, education and awareness-raising;
    8. Recognizing that the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national, regional and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence;

  2. Also calls upon all States:
    1. To take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries, in the conduct of their public duties, do not discriminate against individuals on the basis of religion or belief;
    2. To foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society;
    3. To encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion or belief, in all sectors of society;
    4. To make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questioning, searches and other investigative law enforcement procedures;
  3. Further calls upon all States to adopt measures and policies to promote full respect for and protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines and to take protective measures in cases where they are vulnerable to vandalism or destruction;
  4. Calls for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs.

The Secretary-General has submitted annual reports to the General Assembly that include information provided by the High Commissioner on steps taken by States to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief. Furthermore, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has prepared and submitted to the Human Rights Council comprehensive follow-up reports with elaborated conclusions based upon information provided by States on the efforts and measures taken for the implementation of the action plan outlined above, and views on potential follow-up measures for further improvement of the implementation of that plan.

Report published in Document number Mandated by
January 2021
A/HRC/46/67Human Rights Council resolution 43/34 of 22 June 2020
September 2020 A/75/369General Assembly resolution 74/164 of 18 December 2019
February 2020 A/HRC/43/72Human Rights Council resolution 40/25 of 22 March 2019
July 2019 A/74/229General Assembly resolution 73/164 of 17 December 2018
January 2019 A/HRC/40/44
Human Rights Council resolution 37/38 of 23 March 2018
July 2018 A/73/153
General Assembly resolution 72/176 of 19 December 2017
January 2018 A/HRC/37/44Human Rights Council resolution 34/32 of 24 March 2017
September 2017 A/72/381General Assembly resolution 71/195 of 19 December 2016
March 2017 A/HRC/34/35Human Rights Council resolution 31/26 of 24 March 2016
and resolution 28/29 of 27 March 2015
August 2016 A/71/369General Assembly resolution 70/157 of 17 December 2015
October 2015 A/70/415General Assembly resolution 69/174 of 18 December 2014
January 2015 A/HRC/28/47Human Rights Council resolution 25/34 of 28 March 2014
August 2014 A/69/336General Assembly resolution 68/169 of 18 December 2013
April 2014 A/HRC/25/34Human Rights Council resolution 22/31 of 22 March 2013
October 2013 A/68/546General Assembly resolution 67/178 of 20 December 2012
Human Rights Council resolution 19/25 of 23 March 2012
August 2012 A/67/296
General Assembly resolution 66/167 of 19 December 2011
Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 of 24 March 2011

Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 46/27, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights sent notes verbales to all permanent missions in Geneva and New York on 23 July 2021 (also in French and Spanish), inviting them to forward contributions to the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General by 23 September 2021. A related call for inputs, including on views on potential follow-up measures, was also circulated to national human rights institutions and civil society organizations.