Special Rapporteur Reports to UN Human Rights Council on Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief

Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, addressed the U.N. Human Rights Council during its March 2017 regular session

The rise of hatred, hostility, discrimination and violence based on religion or belief was the subject of the first presentation by United Nations Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The Rapporteur spoke during the 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council that ended its annual March four-week session March 26. Mr. Shaheed expressed his concern to the delegates about “continuing reports of mass atrocities and violence that threaten the very existence of religious minority communities, including some groups that have existed for over two millennia.”

Mr. Shaheed was appointed in November 2016 with the mandate to identify existing and emerging obstacles to freedom of religion or belief and to present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles, His report emphasized that freedom of religion is an individual right, and he outlined the operational approach to human rights implementation that includes “focus on laws, courts and other conventional aspects of compliance, as well as efforts by the State, through policy, programmes and activities, to translate commitments to human rights into practice.”

He stated that he also wishes to ”build on existing synergies within the United Nations framework by working with partners across the wider United Nations human rights system to mainstream the promotion of the right to freedom of religion or belief in its work, and to increase the salience of the core principles related to this right.”

“State and non-State actors, alike,” Mr. Shaheed noted, “continue to impose restrictions (or limitations) and engage in targeted harassment, intimidation of, or discrimination against religious minorities, unrecognized religious communities and dissidents, who are often confronted with threats to their freedom, safety and security.”

Read the full report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

For more information, see What is Freedom of Religion?