• Monday, August 08, 2022

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UK hosts International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief

The conference brings together faith and belief leaders, governments, parliamentarians, and civil society organisations from 100 countries to take global action to promote freedom of religion or belief for all.

Representational Image (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE UK government is hosting the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) on July 5 and 6 in London.

The conference brings together faith and belief leaders, governments, parliamentarians, and civil society organisations from 100 countries to take global action to promote freedom of religion or belief for all.

The overarching themes of the conference are preventing FoRB abuses and protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief.

The opening plenary session was held from 1000 to 1100 on Tuesday, July 5, and it included a keynote speech from UK foreign secretary Elizabeth Truss.

Global religious and belief leaders, including The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, were also among the speakers in the opening session.

Lord Ahmad, minister for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, said ahead of the conference. “I’m delighted that the UK, and the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in particular, are hosting the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London.

“Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’. Put simply, Freedom of Religion or Belief – or FoRB for short – is a right for everyone, everywhere.

“However, in practice too many people around the world are unable to choose their religion or belief, how they practice it, or to change that belief if they so wish. It is vital that the international community comes together and does everything it can to safeguard this right.

“We have over 600 delegates from 100 countries and multilateral organisations around the world attending the conference including faith and belief leaders, government delegations and civil society representatives. This will be the first International Ministerial Conference on this theme to take place in person since 2019, and we want to use the moment to turn words into action.

“Participants include the Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Islamic Scholar Sheikh Abdallah Bin-bayyah, and Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic church in Erbil, Iraq. It will be an incredibly diverse gathering, reflecting interest from across the religion and belief spectrum, government and civil society in this important issue.

“I look forward to discussing how we can best prevent persecution and protect and promote individuals’ right to freedom of religion or belief.”

The conference will feature a number of sessions, including on the role of education in promoting a better understanding and the discrimination or abuse of women and girls as a result of their beliefs.

PROGRAMME

 

Day One – Tuesday 5 July

 

Morning session Day One Tuesday 5 July 2022

The conference begins with an opening plenary, featuring the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and a number of religious and belief leaders: 

 ‘FoRB: a right for everyone, everywhere’.

This is followed by 2 parallel sessions:

·        promoting FoRB in the face of global challenges

 

·        national pledges

 

Afternoon session

Prevention: early warning, early action

Protection: sharing global knowledge, delivering local action

 

Promotion: building FoRB for the future

Early warning and atrocity prevention

Beyond the constitution: building blocks and incentives for effective protection

Promoting FoRB with inter-religious and inter-convictional dialogues

Break

Break

Break

FoRB in times of conflict and insecurity

Leaving no-one behind: tackling discrimination

Promoting FoRB in a digital world

Day Two – Wednesday 6 July

 

Morning Session

Prevention: early warning, early action

Protection: sharing global knowledge, delivering local action

Promotion: building FoRB for the future

Women and girls: breaking barriers with FoRB

Women and girls: breaking barriers with FoRB

FoRB and education

Break

Break

Break

FoRB and the media

Declaration of Humanity

Innovation Hub: FoRB in the future

Afternoon session

Prevention: early warning, early action

Protection: sharing global knowledge, delivering local action

Promotion: building FoRB for the future

Civil society as a driver for change

Protecting cultural and religious heritage

Engaging the next generation

After a break, the conference finishes with a closing plenary panel discussion: reflections and the way forward.

 

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