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Religious Freedom

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 128297, tabled on 19 February 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how information from his Department's meetings with civil society groups on freedom of religion or belief will inform foreign policy.

Answered on

27 February 2018

Ministers and officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), including our network of Embassies and High Commissions overseas, frequently meet representatives of civil society groups to discuss human rights issues, including the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). These meetings include a wide variety of faith leaders, academics, human rights defenders and members of non-governmental organisations. Such meetings enrich policy-makers' understanding of issues and inform the development of better policy.

The FCO Minister of State with responsibility for human rights, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, has hosted two roundtables which have allowed for in-depth discussion of themes related to FoRB. The first, on 23 October 2017, looked at the Rohingya crisis. The second, on 12 December 2017, examined the role of women in tackling religiously motivated violent extremism. These roundtables have been excellent opportunities for policy-makers to hear the perspectives and insights of faith leaders and academic experts. This has helped deepen understanding and better prepare officials to respond to policy challenges.