The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have reiterated the importance of the right to freedom of religion or belief in an event on December 11, 2017 commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have reiterated the importance of the right to freedom of religion or belief in an event on December 11, 2017 commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides explicit provision on the freedom of religion and belief, stating that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.
The event was coordinated by Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an NGO that promotes the rights to beliefs and religious freedom.
Its focus on freedom of religion or belief was justified by the escalation of the persecution of religious groups around the world and the various challenges faced by religious groups.
Lord Ahmad, Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Tuna Ramirez from Hardwired and Alissa Wahid from Gusdurian Network Indonesia all spoke at the event.
Panellists highlighted that the religious persecution occurring globally was part of a wider problem of the denial of individual and human rights.
For example, religious minorities in Syria and Iraq are being persecuted by Da’esh and their other rights are being denied, including the right to life, liberty, security of person, equality and non-discrimination, freedom from slavery, torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and many more.
Da’esh’s refusal to recognise the religious freedom of minority groups has led to murder, abuse, sexual exploitation and assault, and forced conversion, marriage and displacement.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned that escalating religious persecution was being ignored by international states and institutions, a neglect which was damaging to the overall fight to ensure rights for all.
It called for religious persecution to be permanently included as a topic on the UN agenda in its own right, as it is a leading cause of the atrocities and deprivation of humanity that the organisation does currently focus on.