To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, for what reasons the Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief was not re-established after the 2015 General Election; and if he will make a statement.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
23 February 2016
Since the General Election, we have adopted a new strategic approach to human rights, refocusing our work around three themes: democratic values and the rule of law; strengthening the rules-based international system; and human rights for a stable world. Our work on freedom of religion or belief is an integral part of each of these themes.
The Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, as with our other former thematic human rights advisory groups, provided important contributions to our policy and activities. Under our new approach, our thematic advisory groups remain part of the expert constituency to which we turn when designing and delivering human rights initiatives. For example, we involved members of the former Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief in a workshop on Christians in the Middle East that we held in November 2015. We put forward another expert to form part of the Independent Review Panel of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund. We continue to convene regular meetings of the Foreign Secretary's Advisory Group on Human Rights to discuss a range of topics of interest to its members.