Freedom of religion is the right to choose what religion to follow and to worship without undue interference. This fundamental right is guaranteed by article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Freedom of religion or belief has many dimensions and intersects with other human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression or the right to life.
UN Human Rights works to ensure the respect of freedom of religion or belief, the prohibition of incitement to religious hatred, and the celebration of diversity in society. The core of our contribution centers around two initiatives. The first is the Rabat Plan of Action, which considers the distinction between freedom of expression and incitement to hatred, including religious hatred. The second, the “Faith for Rights” framework, builds on the Rabat Plan and articulates ways in which "Faith" can stand up for "Rights" more effectively so that both enhance each other. In parallel, UN Human Rights prepares reports on efforts and measures taken to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief (Human Rights Council resolution 16/18). Furthermore, the Office supports the work of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE
The Rabat threshold test
This six-part policy guidance helps law enforcement and judiciary officials determine whether a statement meets the threshold of incitement to hatred. It is a framework for examining if a restriction to freedom of speech is merited or not.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE
#Faith4Rights learning toolkit
This peer-to-peer learning toolkit contains 18 modules designed to help faith actors explore the relationship between religions, beliefs and human rights and to manage religious diversity in real-life situations. Full of concrete ideas, the modules can be adapted based on the context of the participants.
Who else is involved
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. The mandate is tasked with identifying existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and presenting recommendations on how to overcome such obstacles.
News and statements
22 Sep 2023
Press briefing notes
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Iran – Concerns over Chastity and Hijab Bill
04 Sep 2023
India: UN experts alarmed by continuing abuses in Manipur
01 Sep 2023
Iran’s proposed hijab law could amount to “gender apartheid”: UN experts
30 January 2023
A/HRC/52/38: Landscape of freedom of religion or belief - Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
10 October 2022
A/77/514: Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
03 June 2022
A/HRC/49/44: Rights of persons belonging to religious or belief minorities in situations of conflict or insecurity - Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
07 March 2022
The Beirut Declaration and its 18 commitments on Faith for Rights - Report and outlook
05 October 2021