I. Summary of Major Developments
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)
During the A-100 Course, we address Religious Freedom in two different sessions on human rights. A senior State Department official from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) presents one session. For the past year, a representative from the Congressional Executive Committee on China has presented the second session. Additionally, we provide key background materials on religious freedom to all students via a CD-ROM we distribute to each officer. We also direct them to key websites of related materials.
Political/Economic Tradecraft (Pg-140)
This is a 3-week-long course. The students have been assigned for the first time to work in an embassy's or consulate's political, economic, or combined political/economic section overseas. Political/Economic Tradecraft is essentially a required course, in that State Department officers are assigned to take it 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.
Each student is provided with the Annual Report on Religious Freedom and the report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom listed in Section III. In addition the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor provides at least a half-day session during which religious freedom issues are featured prominently. There also usually is a segment that includes a discussion of religious persecution, religious identity, and religious reconciliation as important factors in contemporary international conflicts.
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.
Students are provided with a course notebook that contains materials addressing religious freedom issues. As in the Tradecraft courses, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor provides presentations during which religious freedom issues are featured together with other aspects of U.S. human rights policy.
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 (e.g. Bosnia and Afghanistan) deal with religious persecution and identity as a factor in ethnic conflict, and reconciliation as a potential preventive step.
Basic Consular Course (Pc-530)
PC-530 serves as the prerequisite for obtaining a consular commission in the Foreign Service. It is aimed at new Foreign Services 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 in order that they may serve temporary duty as consular officers should the need arise.
The PC-530 schedule includes a lecture related to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), "Working with INS," that incorporates discussion of refugee and asylum issues as they 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.
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. Officers in FSI language training and area studies courses take part in this symposium. The symposium brings together leading experts on religious issues and foreign affairs practitioners who can speak to the job related aspects of religious freedom issues to provide our officers with a clear understanding of the importance of these issues and the challenges and responsibilities they will face.
Throughout the year, the course chairs in the Area Studies Division, in cooperation with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 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
The Ambassadorial Seminar hands out a photocopied and bound publication put together by the Office of International Religious Freedom. The Under Secretary for Global Affairs regularly is scheduled to speak to the Ambassadorial Seminar.
III. Background Material on Religious Freedom
The following materials related to religious freedom are made available to FSI students:
Highlights from Key International Documents:
Links To International Religious Freedom Materials: