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White Paper

Freedom of Conscience: Protecting our moral compass

The right to freedom of conscience protects the right to live in accordance with our deeply held beliefs. Despite being protected by every major human rights treaty, this right is poorly understood and undermined. This white paper has six main parts: Chapter 1 highlights what conscience is and why it must be protected. Chapter 2 outlines the robust protections found in law for rights of conscience, while Chapter 3 presents how to recognize conscience claims. Chapter 4 puts forward three options for protecting conscience claims in practice, once recognized, ranging from protecting conscience as a mirror image of freedom of religion or belief to absolute protection. Chapter 5 demonstrates the need for a better approach by highlighting areas in which freedom of conscience is under attack. The paper concludes with recommendations on strengthening conscience protections.