The Human Rights Council must be ambitious on freedom of religion or belief and combating religious intolerance

Press release
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Five years after the adoption of Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution 16/18, [1] as religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion are rising, the UN is witnessing attempts by some states to revive the human rights-incompatible concept of “defamation of religion” and to challenge international standards on the rights to freedom of religion or belief and to freedom of expression.

As the UN Secretary-General is releasing his action plan to prevent violent extremism [2], which underlines the importance to address its root causes, among them disregard for human rights and the rule of law, injustice and alienation, and marginalization of minorities, FIDH calls on the Human Rights Council to step up its action to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief and to combat religious intolerance by tackling sensitive issues – from religious pluralism and protection of religious minorities, to giving the fight against religious intolerance its full meaning so as to cover acts committed against followers of all religions and beliefs and those who do not follow any religion or belief – as a matter of urgency.

In a briefing paper issued today, FIDH outlines mounting threats to international standards and consensus on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and the fight against religious intolerance, and formulates a series of recommendations to states on fully realizing freedom of religion or belief for all. The paper addresses religious freedom and pluralism, the protection of religious minorities and independent voices, and the mutually reinforcing character of freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression in the context of implementing HRC resolution 16/18.

It stresses the need for the Human Rights Council, the UN’s principal human rights body, to stand firm in its defense of international standards and consensus and to contribute to both full implementation of resolution 16/18 and realization of freedom of religion or belief in all its aspects.

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