International Conference on Freedom of Religion starts in London
By Lisa Zengarini
A host of Ministers, Parliamentarians, faith leaders and members of civil society from several countris are gathering in London on Tuesday for a two-day conference aimed at strengthening international efforts to ensure freedom of religion or belief world wide.
The London 2022 International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) is organized by the UK government building on the previous Ministerial-level conferences held on this issue by the United States in 2018 and 2019, and in virtual format by Poland in 2020. It also brings together members of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA), a coalition of 36 countries founded in 2020 to agree on coordinated actions to protect people worldwide who are persecuted or discriminated against on account of their religion or belief.
As the severity and scale of violations and abuses of freedom of religion and belief continue to rise in several countries, the event is aimed at raising awareness on the current challenges to this fundamental human right, its relevance to other human rights, and on best practices in preventing violations and protecting it.
Addressing challenges to freedom of religion
The conference wants to galvanise partner countries and stakeholders, as well as human rights experts, civil society, academia and faith groups, to act together through exchanging best practices , building shared commitments and using UK experience in addressing human rights issues.
The gathering will also seek to strengthen the voices of and build the capacity of defenders of freedom of religion, including faith-based organizations, and it aims to inspire future leaders and young people, and build and reinforce global coalitions for collective action.
As well as discussing challenges, the Conference will, therefore, identify what is working in different countries; explore where and how to apply new lessons and approaches; and inspire the next generation to champion and defend freedom of religion or belief across the world.
A series of civil society side events coordinated by the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Forum, a group of over 70 civil society groups, faith or belief organisations and human rights Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), will enable more people to get involved in discussions on this issue.