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UN Security Council adopt UK resolution on highlighting threats to freedom of religion

by Premier Journalist
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FCDO

Recommendations first set out in a Foreign Office commissioned review into threats to Christians around the world have been adopted by the UN Security Council for the first time. It was tabled by the British ambassador at a gathering in the United Arab Emirates on tolerance and international peace and security.

“Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), including the freedom not to have a religion, is a fundamental human right”, Ambassador James Kariuki told the conference.

“And yet, religious minorities have time and again been specifically targeted, including in conflict. This was a key finding of the report commissioned by the former UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt from the Bishop of Truro”, he added.

“Minorities are too often targeted on the grounds of religion or belief. Indeed, there is evidence that religious or belief minorities may avoid seeking humanitarian aid due to fear or intolerance”, he went on to say.

In a vote, the Council adopted the proposal, which will see the UN Secretary General produce an oral report on FoRB-related threats to international peace and security. This must be done initially by 14th June 2024, with the intention of such a statement becoming an annual event.

“When communities come under attack in situations of conflict, it is the role of this Council to address it”, Ambassador James Kariuki explained.

“There is more we and the UN system can do to monitor incitement to violence against all minority communities in conflict”, he said.

Steps taken by the British government and adopted by the UN were welcomed by Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, who authored the review.

“I’m delighted by this news of the implementation of one of the recommendations of the Truro Review - especially in the light of the fact that last year it was deemed unlikely that any Security Council Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief would be possible”, he told Premier Christian News.

“That it’s happened is huge credit to the UK’s UN team and speaks volumes of the UK’s commitment to this vital human right”, he added.

The action taken by the British government is the first time a Security Council Resolution has been passed on FoRB, and puts in place Recommendation 20 of the Truro Independent Review.

Activists fighting for freedom of religion say the move will provide the global FoRB community a new opportunity to inform and lobby the UN Secretary General’s team and the UN Security Council.

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