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Religious Freedom

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL4445, tabled on 8 January 2018

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are intending to review and strengthen their approach to addressing religious persecution worldwide; and what lessons they have learnt from steps taken by other countries in this regard, including the Hungary Helps initiative and the establishment on 1 January of the Danish Office for the Special Representative for Freedom of Religions or Belief.

Answered on

22 January 2018

All international efforts to promote the right to freedom of religion or belief are welcome. ​Her Majesty's Government notes with interest the 'Hungary Helps Initiative' and Denmark's appointment of a Special Representative on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB). All governments engaged in defending and promoting FoRB can learn from each other. To that end, Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) officials recently met with Denmark's Special Representative for FoRB to discuss this important issue.

The Government is constantly reviewing its own activities and looking for ways to strengthen our impact. Our approach is to work through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, seeking to encourage states to uphold the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including those which defend the right to FoRB. I recently wrote to all Ambassadors and High Commissioners urging them to look for ways to promote and defend FoRB, as appropriate, in the countries to which they are accredited.

The British Government also continues to support a number of projects which promote FoRB through the FCO's Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy. Examples include a project to support a network of human rights defenders in South Asia. In October 2017, I convened the first in a series of roundtable meetings on FoRB. These meetings will bring together faith leaders and civil society to discuss current challenges to FoRB internationally, and how we can collaborate to strengthen our response to these.