I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak at the 2nd annual International Religious Freedom Summit.
Like all of you at this gathering, the United States has a deep and abiding commitment to protecting and promoting religious freedom for all people, everywhere.
Freedom of religion is a human right.
It’s a vital part of our identity: to follow whichever belief system we embrace, or to choose not to follow any belief system at all; to practice our faith in public, or in private; with our loved ones, our communities, or by ourselves.
Supporting religious freedom is a core American value.
We know the world is safer, and more stable, when people have the chance to practice their faith freely, and to contribute their fullest selves to their communities’ success.
Since the last time I had a chance to address this summit, the United States, led by the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department, has continued advancing religious freedom worldwide.
In January, Rashad Hussain was sworn in as our Ambassador for International Religious Freedom.
He and his team have helped drive forward our foreign policy priorities, including by engaging with foreign governments to coordinate our efforts to protect the rights of all individuals, including religious minorities; and by partnering with civil society, advocates, and religious leaders across faiths, to advance cooperation, mutual respect, and the meaningful and equal inclusion of all.
In March, I made the determination that Burma’s military committed genocide and crimes against humanity in 2016 and 2017 with the intent to destroy predominantly Muslim Rohingya, in addition to decades of atrocities against other ethnic and religious minority groups.
And just a few weeks ago, the State Department released the 2021 International Religious Freedom Report, which offers a thorough, fact-based review of the state of religious freedom in nearly 200 countries and territories around the world.
It noted how we’re seeing rising hate in many places – including antisemitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and attacks on Christians, religious minorities, and people who choose not to believe.
This just makes this work even more important.
And the State Department will continue to stand up for religious freedom worldwide – and speak up about threats, attacks, discrimination, and other abuses when they occur.
We can’t do this work without our partners across civil society.
They lift up the voices of those suffering from persecution.
They open our eyes to atrocities and abuses on the ground.
And they offer support – shelter, a safe haven to practice their faith openly, or a platform to speak up – to those suffering.
I’d like to thank our partners across more than 35 governments and multilateral organizations, who have helped monitor religious abuses and respond collectively – and in so doing, multiply our shared reach.
For our part, the United States will continue to stand up for religious freedom worldwide – including in venues like the United Kingdom’s International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
As we go forward, my ask of our civil society partners is this: keep partnering with us, and with each other –especially across faiths and beliefs – to advance the cause of religious freedom.
Keep documenting abuses, as well as progress – and keep holding governments like ours accountable to defend these rights.
Our communities and our countries will be better off for your efforts.