“FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
The fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief remains under threat in many parts of
the world. The implementation of the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB)
remained a key priority for EU action in protecting and promoting FoRB during 2016.
The EU raised FoRB in its human rights dialogues and consultations with partner countries.
Public statements and private demarches were made to promote FoRB, condemn violence
against persons belonging to religious minorities, and call for non-discrimination on grounds
of religion or belief.
The EU continues to work to ensure that FoRB retains a prominent place on the UN agenda,
featuring a strong human rights approach. At HRC 31 (March 2016), the EU presented a
resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
for three years. The resolution was adopted by consensus. As in previous years, the EU
Delegation in Geneva also hosted a side event with the UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB in
the margins of HRC 31 in March 2016. In addition, the EU co-hosted a public lecture on the
occasion of the 30th anniversary of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom
of Religion or Belief. The UNGA 71 (December 2016) resolution on FoRB, as well as maintaining
the updates of previous years, explicitly highlights the importance of a comprehensive and
inclusive community-based preventive approach – involving a wide set of actors, including
civil society and religious communities – to fight against acts of terrorism.
The EU has increased its efforts to raise awareness of the EU Guidelines and FoRB-related
issues among EU staff and Member State representatives by organising training sessions and
In 2016 implementation continued on projects across the world aiming to combat discrimination
on grounds of religion and belief, selected under the EIDHR 2013 global call for proposals and
its reserve list. This brings total EIDHR support for the promotion of FoRB in the 2007- 16
period to more than EUR 15 million. In 2016, the global EIDHR call also addressed the rights of
persons belonging to religious minorities.
In May 2016, the President of the European Commission created the new function of EU Special
Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU. The current mandateholder,
Ján Figeľ, focused particular attention in the second half of 2016 on interreligious
dialogue, with the Middle East as a priority region.
The EU supports initiatives in the field of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue in a spirit
of openness, engagement and mutual understanding, including within the framework of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Alliance of
Civilisations, the Anna Lindh Foundation, and the Istanbul process.”