- EU Special Envoy calls for better protection of religious freedom in EU foreign policy
- International conference reveals need for action on national and international level
Bratislava (30 October 2018) – On 30 October ADF International co-sponsored an international conference on the EU and its responsibility towards international religious freedom organized by the Work, Education and Family Institute. Amongst others, the EU Special Envoy for the Promotion of the Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside the EU, Ján Figeľ, spoke at the conference titled The EU and its Member States: Responsibility for Religious Freedom in the World. Panelists included members of the European Parliament, national ministers, members of the national parliaments of various member states, as well as representatives of civil society involved in the protection of the freedom of religion.
“Every other freedom stems from the freedom of religion and belief, for example, most prominently the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights refers to this freedom and is at the centre of human rights as it acts as a litmus test for all other fundamental rights. When religious freedom is respected all other human rights are respected as a result,” said Ján Figeľ as he highlighted the need for the EU and its members states to robustly protect freedom of religion.
Global threats to religious freedom remain a pressing issue
The panel discussions explored religious freedom in the foreign policy of the EU, and its member states. They addressed avenues for national parliaments and other institutions to help those persecuted for their faith around the world through foreign policy.
“No individual or group should be persecuted for their faith. The EU should use its considerable influence to contribute to this becoming a reality on a global scale. Especially now, in the year of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU and its Member States should improve their efforts to promote and protect religious freedom,” said Andreas Thonhauser, Director of External Relations for ADF International, a global human rights organization, who spoke during the event.
As shown in the recent discussions of the UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, religious freedom often acts as a barometer for other human rights. Violations of freedom of religion regularly lead to violations of other human rights.
Special Envoy calls for action
The event developed a range of ideas for the development of EU policy on freedom of religion. “It is time we make the twenty-first century more humane. The European Union has both the responsibility and the means to work towards this goal. Additionally, it is up to each and every member state to protect and promote religious freedom at home and on an international level,” said Figeľ.