International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief

New York Resolution for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Cognizant that severe violations of freedom of religion or belief continue to occur around the world, perpetrated by states, state proxies, and non-state actors;

Taking note of studies indicating an increase in restrictions on the free practice of religion or belief, with the majority of the global population living in countries where their freedom to peacefully practice their faith could be or is restricted;

Whereas in response to these violations, a group of parliamentarians gathered in Oxford, England, in June 2014 to discuss ways to confront the abuses;

Recalling that at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, parliamentarians from around the world gathered in November 2014 to pledge to advance religious freedom for all and launched the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief;

Reaffirming the Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief signed in Oslo that commits parliamentarians to support Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right of individuals to hold or not to hold any faith or belief, to change belief, to be free from coercion to adopt a different belief, and to peacefully practice the faith of their choice alone or in community with others;

Welcoming the creation of panels in domestic parliaments since the Oslo meeting, including in Brazil, Norway, and Pakistan, and existing bipartisan caucuses in Canada, the European Parliament, the United Kingdom, and the United States;

Taking note of and welcoming the creation of the International Contact Group for Freedom of Religion or Belief networking likeminded governments committed to advancing freedom of religion or belief around the world;

Appreciating the critically important work of civil society organizations, religious leaders, and individuals in academia who are endeavoring to advance freedom of religion or belief with their communities of influence and societies at large;

Now, in New York, on 19 September 2015, the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief commit to pursue efforts that:

  • Advocate for individuals suffering from persecution because of their religious or other forms of belief and urge greater respect for freedom of religion or belief;
  • Strengthen and promote freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief as a universal, established and non-derogable human right, as set out in the Universal Declaration, in international customary law and treaties, and in the work of national, regional, and global agencies and political bodies;
  • Enhance global cooperation by working across geographical, political, and religious lines to mobilize effective responses through regular communications, sharing of information, and endeavoring to meet annually;
  • Expand the network of parliaments focused on freedom of religion or belief around the world by supporting the creation of new parliamentary platforms or groups that support Article 18 and that are politically and religiously diverse;
  • Build capacity among parliamentarians committed to advancing religious freedom, both for those in stable countries and those in countries with problematic records on freedom of religion or belief, so as to equip parliamentarians to advocate for change at home and abroad;
  • Increase the number of governments and international institutions responding to the growing crisis of persecution of believer and non-believers and encourage the commitment of increased resources to ensure greater respect for this fundamental freedom; and
  • Build stronger linkages between members of parliament and civil society organizations, religious leaders, and members of academia so as to find more impactful ways to advance freedom of religion or belief globally.

Signed by Parliamentarians in attendance at the September, 2015 conference in New York, “Multinational Efforts to Strengthen Freedom of Religion or Belief“.

PDF Copy of New York Resolution (with signatures)