On behalf of 21 Members, Friends and Observers of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, we are proud to address the UN Human Rights Council.
The Alliance is a network of like-minded countries and partners fully committed to advancing freedom of religion or belief around the world. Launched in February 2020, this group of 42 countries and partners gathers a diversity of representatives from governments and civil society to complement existing work to promote freedom of religion or belief within the multilateral system and beyond.
Members of the Alliance are focused on what more the international community can do to protect the right to freedom of religion or belief globally, including for members of religious or belief minority groups, and to combat discrimination and persecution based on religion or belief. In support of Article 18 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all, including the ability of individuals to hold any belief, to change their belief, or to not profess or practise any religion.
In February 2023, the Alliance marked its third anniversary. In the preceding year, it experienced continued numerical growth, with Costa Rica, Cyprus, Romania, and Sierra Leone joining the Alliance as Members, Guyana joining as a Friend, and Taiwan joining as an Observer.
The Alliance also increased its areas of action. Members of the Alliance issued statements in support of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and the Baha’i community, and on matters of concern including the situation in Ukraine, attacks on worshippers in Nigeria, the status of freedom of religion or belief in Nicaragua, the use of the death penalty for blasphemy and related offences, and on the contribution of the Jewish Faith and combating anti-Semitism. Members of the Alliance advocated on behalf of several people imprisoned for peacefully exercising their right to FORB, organised a delegation to Algeria, and held a Regional FoRB Conference in Slovakia.
In March 2022, Members, Friends, and Observers of the Alliance and its Council of Experts – which also expanded during this period – gathered in-person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic in the margins of the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to coincide with the presentation to the HRC of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s report ‘Religious or belief minorities in situations of conflict and insecurity.’
In July 2022, Members of the Alliance made up the core among the 88 governments officially represented at the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London. This Conference was well supported by a diverse range of civil society organisations, who coordinated over 130 side events. Following the Conference, Members of the Alliance and Council of Experts are taking forward several workstreams, including on inspiring the next generation, protecting religious and cultural heritage, education, legislative reform, and developing a global network of roundtables.
We invite members of the Human Rights Council and others to join us and work together in solidarity towards a world where no one suffers discrimination or persecution for having a religion or belief, or for not professing or practising any religion. Together, let us strive for a world where all individuals can realise the full potential of their human dignity, irrespective of what they believe.
Signatories: Austria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kosovo, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sovereign Order of Malta, Taiwan, United States, United Kingdom.