UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Urges End to Discrimination and Violence
In her first report to the UN Human Rights Council, Nazila Ghanea outlined her vision for how she plans to carry out her mandate as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Ghanea emphasized that freedom of religion or belief is a universal right and should be freely enjoyed without interference or fear: calling for an end to discrimination and violence based on it.
Ghanea’s report highlighted three critical dimensions of the mandate: the advancement of freedom of religion or belief for everyone, the prohibition of any discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, and the denial of human rights in the name of religion or belief. Ghanea stressed that the abuse of religion or belief as a tool of discrimination, hostility, and violence must cease and be condemned by all actors at every level of society.
The report’s recommendations include achieving coherence in domestic and foreign policy efforts, avoiding singling out particular religious or belief minorities, ensuring a good understanding of freedom of religion or belief among different authorities, and cooperating fully with the Special Rapporteur. The Special Rapporteur also recommended weaving freedom of religion or belief into all arenas of international organizations and multilateral institutions' work, using a victim-centered approach, and collaborating with faith-based actors.
In the ensuing discussion, many speakers expressed their gratitude to Ghanea for her comprehensive report and noted its recommendations. Speakers agreed with the concerns of the Special Rapporteur regarding the challenges around the freedom of religion, particularly the increase of religious hatred acts. They reaffirmed support for all international efforts aimed at rejecting all forms of defamation of religion.
The report by Ghanea and the following discussion demonstrates the importance of promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief for all. It is crucial for States and other actors to take concrete steps towards ending discrimination and violence based on religion or belief, and to ensure that everyone can freely enjoy their right to practice and believe as they choose.
The discussion will continue on Tuesday, March 14th during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur.