49th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Freedom of Religion


March 10th, 2022: Interactive Dialogue on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

All sources used to draft the report can be found here. The report was drafted by Xiaochuan Yu on March 11th, 2022.

Composition of the HRC

Vice President: Opens the agenda for the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief: Presents his report on challenges faced by minorities of religion or beliefs. Mr. Shaheed recognizes the severity of the contemporary global security challenge, where 2.4 million people had experienced forced displacement in 2020 alone. Minorities often suffer the most in conflict-affected contexts, affected by their religions or beliefs, ethnicities, or gender. The Special Rapporteur expresses deep concerns for recent systematic human rights violations imposed on members of religious (or beliefs) minorities and their property damages due to the target on their beliefs and identities. Mr. Shaheed mentions that some religious minorities' rights are often sidelined and silenced in humanitarian activities, and women are particularly vulnerable because of intersectionality. Mr. Shaheed's report comprises a diverse range of evidence and advances evidence-based understanding of specific needs and vulnerabilities during crises. The report includes views from religious minorities, findings from 37 consultations, 16 bilateral meetings, and 64 submissions from state and non-state actors. Mr. Shaheed stresses his opposition to homogenizing or generalizing experiences of religious minorities and advocates for an objective assessment of religions in conflicts. The following items are recommended to advance a human rights-based approach to protect religious minorities in peacemaking efforts:

1. Reform policy and practice engaging with actors such as humanitarian agents, communities, and media.

2. Conditions on increasing security after consultation with experts on the subject. 3. Topics of gender inequality, anti-Semitism, securitization, the SDGs, Islamophobia, and will be followed during the remaining time of his mandate.

Finally, Mr. Shaheed emphasizes the importance of diversity as a pathway to achieve resilience. His report also contains conflict prevention for achieving sustainable peace and recommends collective actions to prevent future suffering and leave no man behind. Mr. Shaheed closes his speech by welcoming feedback from state actors and civil society.

Vice President: Invites interested delegations to ask questions and make comments on the report.

The Representative of the European Union: Recognizes the right of minorities to practice religions free from discrimination. Pledges determination to promote freedom of religion and beliefs based on the principle of equality, non-discrimination, and universality. The European Union will continue to be a strong advocate promoting the freedom of religious rights. The European Union uses the floor to strongly condemn Russia's unlawful and unprovoked

aggression against Ukraine and expresses concerns for human rights violations and prosecution of religious minorities in Eastern Ukraine, particularly in Crimea and Donetsk.

Brazil (on behalf of a group of countries): On behalf of 30 countries, Brazil believes that the international community must do more to protect religious minorities and combat prosecution based on religious beliefs. Brazil advocates for freedom of religion or beliefs for all and calls for collective action from member states of the Human Rights Council member states.

Denmark (on behalf of a group of countries): On behalf of a group of Nordic and Baltic countries, Denmark expresses deep concerns for systematic human rights violations in recent and ongoing conflicts. Denmark recognizes multifaceted factors driving conflicts worldwide and calls for a halt of prosecution based on religion or beliefs, including in the context of Russia's ongoing, illegal aggression against Ukraine. Denmark strongly condemns Russia's aggression and urges Russia to refrain from further aggression. Denmark also expresses solidarity with Ukraine and its people.

Morocco (on behalf of Group of Arab States)

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Poland (on behalf of a group of countries): On behalf of the Lublin Triangle countries, Poland expresses concern that many findings in the report accurately reflect the situation caused by ongoing Russian military aggression against Ukraine, supported by Belarus. Russia's politicization of religion has been evident. Poland condemns the instrumentalization of religion to justify Russia's agenda of aggression. Poland mentions the prosecution of religious minorities happening in Russia-occupied Crimea and Donbass and Russia mainland. Poland requests the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor the situation of religious minorities under Russian aggression.

Austria (on behalf of a group of countries): Expresses regrets for violence against religious minorities and advocates for preventive measures. States have obligations to protect their citizens from genocide or crime against humanity, including violence against religious minorities. Other non-state actors, including civil society, and religious leaders, should also take up responsibilities to prevent atrocity crime.

Sovereign Order of Malta: Agrees that there is a definite need to correct narratives that discard the influence of religious leaders on the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Advocates for a holistic approach to peacebuilding in domestic context and international context. Notes that more attention to religion could contribute to peaceful reconciliation.


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UK: Welcomes the Special Rapporteur's recommendations in peacebuilding and transitional justice processes. Recognizes the role of religion in reconciliation and conflict resolution. The

UK recalls its attendance at the 8th meeting of the Istanbul Process in February and the success of resolution 16.18. The UK looks forward to maintaining the consensus built over the last decade in promoting freedom of religion or beliefs with international efforts.

Sierra Leone:Sierra Leone recalls itself being considered by various international agents as religious tolerant. Sierra Leone is committed to tolerant religious policies in its national legislation and enacted safeguard measures to prevent sexual abuse of women and children. Sierra Leone will continue to practice its policy that encourages freedom of religion or belief.

Nepal: Acknowledges findings in the report and recalls the religious tolerance in Nepal. Nepal pledges commitment to the protection of religious minorities and social harmony. Nepal invites global collaboration to protect freedom of religion, particularly during global crises.

Fiji: Believes that freedom of religion is crucial to human rights and recalls the diversity of beliefs in Fiji. Fiji continues to support equitable, sustainable, and right-based solutions.


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Malaysia: Agrees with findings in the report and the Special Rapporteur's recommendations. Malaysia recommends the participation of religious minorities in the peacebuilding process.


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India: India rejects the report's findings and believes that it contains unfounded, unjustified, and irresponsible allegations against India based on unverified information. India claims that contrary to the report, there is no conflict in India. The report makes seven unwarranted references to India and illustrates a clear misunderstanding of India's multicultural and multi-religious reality, according to the representative. India finds it unacceptable that the Special Rapporteur has rejected information provided by the India government. India recalls its achievement in protecting minority rights, as enshrined in its constitution.

China: Recalls that Islamophobia in the United States and other Western countries has rendered Muslim minorities targets of hate crime and human rights violations. China expresses concern about the Special Rapporteur failing to mention Islamophobia in its report. China firmly denies findings based on lies of Western media reports and anti-China parties and slanders against China. The Chinese government has been a keen promoter of human

rights and human dignity. In China, freedom of religion is protected by law. All religions, including Islam, co-exist in harmony. China claims that the ratio of mosque per Muslim is higher than many Western countries. The Special Rapporteur has failed to mention China's achievement in celebrating and protecting religious diversity, rendering him an instrument of Western anti-China forces. The ignorance and extremist beliefs of the Special Rapporteur have severely compromised the finding's legitimacy. China alerts the Council of ignorance and misinformation, as it would misdirect the focus of human rights advocacy work.


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Namibia: Aligns itself with the report's findings and expresses concern of stigmatization and discrimination experienced by religious minorities around the world. Namibia recommends states to take up responsibilities to protect minorities' religious rights and punish preparators of human rights accordingly.

Armenia: Recognizes that religious conflicts make peace resolution more difficult. Recalls recent policy change in Azerbaijan that might further misappropriate and destroy Armenian culture. Armenia believes that it constitutes a violation of the decision of the International Court of Justice, but Azerbaijan has not responded to any communication from Armenia.

Netherlands: Aligns itself with recommendations of the Special Rapporteur. The Netherlands expresses concerns for the violation of human rights of religious minorities perpetrated by states.


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Pakistan: The country disagrees with the "ill-informed" references about Pakistan in the report as it ignores Pakistan's effort to protect equal rights of its citizens. Takes notes of findings about the relationship between conflict and rights of religious minorities and questions if minorities in the UN-recognized conflicts qualify as minorities. Recalls the tension in Kashmir and urges the Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor human rights situations on the occupied territory.

Indonesia: Recognizes that states have inherent duty to protect all citizens despite religious beliefs and recalls Indonesia's success in protecting religious diversity. Indonesia strongly rejects the reference to Indonesia in the Special Rapporteur's findings, which portrays a political demonstration as a conflict between religious majority and minority. Indonesia denies the accusation of the state enforcing the death penalty on religious minorities and alerts member states of misinformation.

Russia Federation

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Cambodia: Recalls that freedom of religion is well protected by Cambodia's constitution. Muslim minorities are well integrated into mainstream society and enjoy a high level of political representation.

South Africa: Shares the concern of religious intolerance and human rights violation based on religion and beliefs. Recalls that political, economic, and cultural rights of all religious groups are protected in South Africa.

Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief: Reminds delegations of the content of his mandate which is to identify obstacles to freedom of religion or belief. Mr. Shaheed feels the obligation to examine and report challenges faced by all people in this regard. Mr. Shaheed invites delegations who disagree with his framing to re-read his report, as there is sufficient nuance to ensure the balance of his report.

Mr. Shaheed answers questions imposed by delegations:

(1) The report has detailed findings of Islamophobia around the world. (2) Mr. Shaheed has been refused to enter a certain country, therefore, sources used in his report have been limited

(3) Social media companies have obligations to battle misinformation.

(4) Evidence-based approaches should be highlighted in conflict prevention and resolution.

(5) Specific needs of vulnerable communities ought to be taken care of. (6) All stakeholders should be engaged in an inclusive solution for a bottom-up approach.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace