I. Summary Of Major Developments
Since the first report on International Religious Freedom was issued in September 1999, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has worked continuously with the Office of International Religious Freedom (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor) in implementing H.R. 2431. The result of this cooperation has been the further integration of religious freedom issues into the regular curriculum at FSI. During the period covered by this report, members of the FSI training staff took part in numerous conferences dealing with religious freedom, persecution, conflict, and reconciliation hosted by academic institutions, think tanks and nongovernmental organizations. In addition the Director of FSI's Political Training Division has continued to work with the staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to ensure that its insights are reflected in FSI's course offerings. In all these ways, the staff at FSI has sought to bolster their own skills on religious freedom issues.
II. Courses Offered
The School of Professional and Area Studies (SPAS) at FSI offers training relevant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) in a variety of courses. Following are brief descriptions of courses offered by the divisions of Political Training, Orientation, Consular Training, and Area Studies:
-- Foreign Service Officer Orientation (A-100)
Every new Foreign Service Officer takes a 7-week orientation course to prepare for an initial assignment overseas and to obtain the grounding needed for a successful foreign service career. For a wide range of emerging policy issues the students are divided into study groups to engage in research on the topics and then make hour-long presentations to classmates, which includes question and answer sessions. The Political Training Division briefs the students who are selected to work on religious freedom issues, identifies initial contacts for them to make, and provides them with the research materials described in Section III below. These students routinely visit the Office of International Religious Freedom and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to discuss the work of these entities and the issue of religious freedom as an element of U.S. foreign policy. The Political Training staff monitors the work of each religious freedom group to ensure that key points related to IRFA are covered appropriately.
-- Political Tradecraft (PP-202) and Political Economic Tradecraft (PG-140)
Each of these two basic 3-week-long courses is offered three times per year. The students are full time government employees (mostly State Department Foreign Service officers) being assigned for the first time to work in an embassy's or consulate's political, economic, or combined political/economic section overseas. These are essentially required courses, in that State Department officers are assigned to take these courses by the personnel system and exceptions are rare. The State Department expects that a large proportion of these officers/students during their careers will be directly responsible for preparing their post's human rights and religious freedom reports. Therefore, these two courses provide training to one of the major classes of officers identified in the IRFA.
In these courses, each student is provided with a course notebook that contains the items listed in Section III. In addition the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor provides at least one half-day session during which religious freedom issues are featured prominently. There is also usually a segment that includes a discussion of religious persecution, religious identity, and religious reconciliation as important factors in contemporary international conflicts. Religious freedom issues also are covered in a major segment of the course related to doing contact work overseas.
-- Global Issues (PP-510)
This 3-day course is given twice a year and is geared toward mid-level foreign affairs and national security professionals working for the Department of State and other agencies. In the fall, this course is combined with a separate module on human rights.
In these courses students are provided with a course notebook that contains the items listed in Section III. As in the Tradecraft courses, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor provides a full-day session during which religious freedom issues are prominently featured in a discussion led by the Office of International Religious Freedom, together with other aspects of U.S. human rights policy. The importance of religious issues in the modern world also is raised in several of the other segments, including one devoted to U.S. foreign policy priorities and strategic planning. In cooperation with the Area Studies Training Division, the most recent session of the course included a major segment on "political Islam."
-- International Conflict Workshop (PP-519)
This weeklong workshop focuses on various aspects of international conflict, especially the enhancement of skills needed to analyze the causes of conflict and develop a plan for preventive diplomacy. This course trains up to 30 foreign affairs and national security professionals at all levels working for the Department of State and other agencies.
The students are provided with reading materials including most of the key documents listed in Section III. Multiple segments in this course deal with religious persecution and identity as a factor in ethnic conflict, and reconciliation as a potential preventive step.
-- Basic Consular Course (PC-530)
This course serves as the prerequisite for obtaining a consular commission. It is aimed at junior foreign service officers preparing to go overseas to fill consular positions, dependents of U. S. government employees who will work as consular associates overseas, and domestic employees of the Bureau of Consular Affairs who may serve temporary duty as consular officers should the need arise.
The course schedule includes a lecture related to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), "Working with the INS," that incorporates discussion of refugee and asylum issues as these pertain to consular officers. The subject also is covered in further detail in the Self-Instructional Guide (SIG) on immigrant visa processing, which includes a chapter on "Refugees, Asylum, Walk-ins, and Parole." This chapter describes the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee criteria, the U.S. refugee program, and processing requirements for refugees. Scenarios involving religious minorities have been incorporated into the "role play" portion of the training on consular prison visits.
-- Advanced Consular Course (PC-532)
The Advanced Consular Course is a 3-week course aimed at mid-level consular officers being assigned to overseas posts as first-time managers, as well as Civil Service employees of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
This course continues routinely to include a session, organized by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), on refugee processing and policy and religious persecution; and a second session, organized by representatives of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor's Office of Country Reports and Asylum Affairs (DRL/CRA) on U.S. asylum law and processing. Emphasis is given to the role of a consular officer in these areas, including processing of refugee and asylee cases (based on approved I-730 petitions).
-- Area Studies
The Foreign Service Institute and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation annually sponsor a major symposium focused on religious freedom and the role of U.S. diplomats overseas. Following keynote addresses, officers at FSI in language training and area studies courses take part in day-long sessions with outside experts on religious issues in their region, to permit in depth exchanges and discussions.
Throughout the year, the course chairs in the Area Studies Division, in cooperation with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, take steps to ensure that their courses address both regional and country specific issues of religion, religious freedom and human rights. Participants receive substantial information encompassing the full range of issues affecting particular regions, including religious freedom and human rights, religious history and religious traditions. Students also receive reading lists (and World Wide Web guidance) that direct them to even more detailed material.
-- Ambassadorial and Deputy Chief of Mission Training
In these courses, students are provided with a course notebook that contains the items listed in Section III. When possible the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs and/or the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor provide oral briefings on religious freedom and related human rights issues to these senior officials.
III. Background Material On Religious Freedom
The following background materials related to religious freedom are made available to FSI students:
Mission Statement for the State Department Office of International Religious Freedom
"Preparing the Annual report on Religious Freedom for 2001" -- State Department Telegram April 13, 2001 (MRN 66404)
2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (Executive Summary)
Main Web Page of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
List of Members (current and former) of the for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Executive Summary) May 1, 2001
Highlights from Key International Documents:
* Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18)
* International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 18, 26 & 27)