Freedom of Religion or Belief & Foreign Policy
Welcome to this website of the FoRB & Foreign Policy Initiative (FoRB&FPI) based at the University of Sussex. This is a collection of current research and resources from policy dialogues offering latest thinking and policy recommendations on FoRB and Foreign Policy by international experts, advocacy and religious representatives including input from policy makers in the UN, the EU, the US Department of State, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is organised around three areas of research and policy work.
Read our most recent Report on Interreligious Engagement Strategies and FoRB
FoRB is increasingly under threat globally as religious persecutions and discrimination appears to be on the rise in many parts of the world. As governments and organisations from Europe and North America step up their commitment to the protection and promotion of FoRB, increased coordination and reflection become a more urgent need.
It is becoming ever clearer that solutions to combat violent extremism must also consider conditions that facilitate it. One key response is to build open and plural societies in which FoRB is respected.
This webpage is a partnership between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the University of Sussex to make available Open Access materials from the conference ‘Preventing Violent Extremism by building inclusive and plural societies: How Freedom of Religion or Belief can help’ hosted by the UK government on 19-20 October 2016.
Engagement with religious actors and interreligious collaboration are crucial policy tools to promote FoRB and combat intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief. Religious actors should not only be seen by policy makers as victims or perpetrators of FoRB violations, but as partners in building long-term strategies to advance FoRB for all and foster pluralism, social cohesion and sustainable peace.
Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, United Nations
“The primary responsibility for protecting populations and protecting human rights, including the right to FoRB, lies with States and is grounded in a framework of international law. But responsibility does not stop with the State, it lies with all sectors of society. All of us who have influence, and a voice, must use it for good – and the voices and actions of religious leaders are critical”
Emanuela Claudia del Re, Minister of State, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
“We have to be as inclusive as possible and Italy is promoting this kind of attitude within interreligious dialogue and interfaith dialogue, and promoting more participation of minorities, and also seeing politics as a vehicle for diffusion of good and positive strategies for the resolution of rivalries, conflicts, and obviously for promoting peace.
HE Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London
“The importance of religion in many parts of the world is that it is indistinguishable from life – daily life, daily expression – and religious leaders, religious representatives, religious institutions have a daily position and credibility and legitimacy and so, if we don’t interact with them, if we don’t have this cooperation with them, and collaboration, we lack what they’ve built up over centuries”
Sharon Rosen, Global Director of Religious Engagement, Search for Common Ground
“Too often religious actors are seen as either the perpetrators or victims of the problem and therefore there is a need to bring them in and see them as people who can help”
Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB
“FoRB is in crisis worldwide”
House of Lords Policy Dialogue, Sept 2016
Ján Figel, Special Envoy for FoRB outside the EU
“Freedom of Religion or Belief is a litmus test of all other civil and political freedoms and of overall human rights”
David Saperstein, US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
“You learn best about other faiths and learn to respect other faiths not just by talking about it, but by doing things together”
Andrew Bennett, Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Canada
“Religious belief and religious practice relate directly to how we understand ourselves; how we relate to our fellow human beings; how we relate to and encounter the world in which we live; and, how we relate to God or to a particular philosophy to which we elect to subscribe”
“The new multilateral FoRB networks or coalitions must be able to deliver action rather than being seen purely as a talking shop”
Baroness Berridge, UK APPG on International Freedom of Religion or Belief
“Recognising the different legal and institutional interpretations of FoRB within the West may be an asset in promoting the cause of FoRB beyond the West”
Dr Fabio Petito, University of Sussex
House of Lords Policy Dialogue, Sept 2016