Conflicts in Countries
& the Security Council

  Freedom of Religion or Belief

Geneva: 61st Human Rights Commission (CHR61)
Update: April 11th

In recent sessions, CHR61 has turned its attention to Freedom of Religion or Belief. Dr John Taylor is closely involved with the Anglican Representation at the UN in Geneva and brings his considerable experience to our involvement in this area. Formerly responsible for Inter-Faith Dialogue at the World Council of Churches, he is now UN (Geneva) representative of IARF (International Association for Religious Freedom) and Secretary of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief (Geneva). He describes the recent debate at CHR61:

“Although this item is still addressed in the Human Rights Commission under the title of "Religious Intolerance", the emphasis is upon promoting tolerance in an active and fully respectful way. The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ms Asma Jahangir, is a Muslim Pakistani woman human rights lawyer who has already proved herself as a fearless and fair human rights defender when she held the mandate on extra-judicial killings. In her new mandate she is committed to protection of the far too many victims of intolerance and discrimination in all religions, but she also continues the work of her predecessor in promoting strategies of prevention, notably through education and inter-religious dialogue.

She is not afraid to take up specific cases of violations against religions, between religions and within religions. By correspondence and visits she follows up complaints both with governments and with non-governmental bodies. She recognizes the complexity of many issues such as the banning of French schoolchildren (mostly Muslim girls) for wearing a headscarf in public schools, or of Turkish women university students for the same reason. She makes the important connexions between the universal and inalienable rights of freedom of religion or belief (including secular belief) and other rights and obligations such as the rights of the child, the right to freedom of expression, or the prohibition of torture.

Ms Jahangir, as an independent expert, co-operates closely with civil society and held a public briefing during the Human Rights Commission in which she answered a wide range of questions posed by the representatives of non-governmental organizations including those of several religious minorities. She appealed for swiftly transmitted and carefully verified information about any instances of discrimination whether by states or non-state actors.”

More information from Dr Taylor c/o:
Revd Michael French, Secretary to Geneva Representation,

Published by the Anglican Communion Office ©2002 Anglican Consultative Council