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Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

Publication Date: 
December, 2010
Source: 
Asma Jahangir


In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief discusses early warning signs of discrimination and violence on the grounds or in the name of religion or belief.

She gives an overview of her mandate activities with regard to communications sent to States concerning individual cases, her participation in recent conferences and meetings, country visits undertaken by the Special Rapporteur and further follow-up activities of the mandate.In addition, Special Rapporteur discusses early warning signs of discrimination and violence on the grounds or in the name of religion or belief.

These early warning signs relate to action, or inaction, by State actors, non-State actors and international or external factors.

The Special Rapporteur also provides an overview of some general patterns and issues of concern related to her mandate. In this regard, she distinguishes between discrimination and violence on the grounds of religion or belief (i.e. based on the religious affiliation of the victim) and discrimination and violence in the name of religion or belief (i.e. based on or arrogated to religious tenets of the perpetrator).

In her conclusions and recommendations, the Special Rapporteur emphasizes that prevention is key for creating an atmosphere of religious tolerance. The structure of the State, its method of governance, educational policies and the commitment of Governments and societies to fundamental human rights are the central ingredients that can act as precautionary factors in creating religious harmony or contributing factors to religious friction. The Special Rapporteur identifies some appropriate responses by various actors, including recommendations with regard to the role of the State, the role of religious leaders and civil society, and the role of the international community and human rights mechanisms. She stresses that States have the primary responsibility for implementing international human rights standards, including freedom of religion or belief. Politicians from different political parties should undertake brainstorming sessions on how to address new challenges in an increasingly globalized world. Religious leaders and civil society as a whole may also play an important role in supporting and encouraging religious tolerance. Emerging tensions in a given society may be defused, for example, if religious leaders clearly affirm the importance of the right to freedom of religion or belief for all and in all its dimensions. Finally, the international community and human rights mechanisms should continue monitoring freedom of religion or belief worldwide and detecting early warning signs of intolerance that may ultimately lead to discrimination on the grounds or in the name of religion or belief. Treaty bodies and special procedures can take the opportunity to follow up on the recommendations from the universal periodic review and continue to address the underlying human rights issues in their concluding observations, allegation letters and mission reports.

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