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The Office of International Religious Freedom promotes universal respect for freedom of religion or belief for all as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy. We monitor religiously motivated abuses, harassment, and discrimination worldwide, and recommend, develop, and implement policies and programs to address these concerns.

The office carries out its mission through:

  • The Annual Report on International Religious Freedom which describes the status of religious freedom in every country. The report covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world. Each year, the report is mandated by and presented to the U.S. Congress, and is also a public document available online and in book form from the U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • The designation by the Secretary of State of nations guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom as “Countries of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (H.R. 2431) and its amendment of 1999 (Public Law 106-55). Nations so designated are subject to further actions, including economic sanctions, by the United States.
  • Close cooperation with relevant actors to address problems of religious freedom, including foreign government officials at all levels, religious and human rights groups in the United States and abroad, and the independent United States Commission on International Religious Freedom  .
  • Providing testimony before the United States Congress on issues of international religious freedom.
  • Sponsorship and support of NGOs that promote reconciliation in disputes where groups are divided along lines of religious identity.
  • Programs of outreach to American religious communities.

For information on religious freedom in the United States, please check the website of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division  , which publishes a newsletter, Religious Freedom in Focus  , covering cases involving religious freedom around the United States.

Former Ambassadors

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future