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“The EU works closely with all actors to promote FoRB”, said Gilmore, EU SR for Human Rights

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Message from Eamon Gilmore as EU Special Representative for Human Rights when attending on 5th july 2022 to the International Ministerial on Freedom of Religion or Belief hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

Gilmore in his Twitter account summarized saying that:

The global environment for freedom of religion or belief remains challenging. The EU works closely with all actors to promote Forb. All human rights have equal worth.

Watch the full video below

Full message (original transcript by The European Times):

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank the United Kingdom for hosting this ministerial conference today, which I am honored to address on behalf of the European Union.

We have all seen the work of both faith based and non faith based actors to build peace and to combat poverty in their communities and their countries. However, we have also seen that freedom of religion or belief has become something of a barometer for how governments perceive human rights in general and for how they protect those rights.

We all have the right to live and act according to our conscience, whether we are religious or not. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms everyone’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

No one should be persecuted or privileged because of their religion or belief. No one should be forced to live by another’s belief. And of course, freedom of religion or belief, should never undermine other rights, such as the right to education, women’s rights, LGBT rights, nor used as a justification for discrimination, bigotry or violence.

The global environment for freedom of religion or belief is challenging, and that is why promoting it remains a central part of the European Union’s work on human rights and a strong feature of my mandate as the EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights.

The main guide for our work is the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020 to 2024. And over the last few years, we have intensified action to prevent and combat all forms of discrimination, intolerance, violence and persecution against people based on the exercise of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.

We take a public stance through statements, and we also raise our concerns directly with governments through our human rights dialogs.

We call on all countries to protect the right for everyone to have or not to have a religion or belief to manifest or to change their religion or belief. And we firmly condemn the criminalization of apostasy and the abuse of blasphemy laws.

Building inclusive and resilient societies is a strong focus of our multilateral work and also guides many EU initiatives. At the March session of the Human Rights Council, the EU resolution on freedom of religion or belief renewed the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

We are also engaging actively with other international organizations, in particular with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and we continue to work with others in the Istanbul process. We have continued to implement the Global Exchange on Religion and Society project.

This aims to connect civil society actors from all around the world who are working on faith and social inclusion. Civil society and human rights defenders are critical partners in all of our works. This is a challenging moment, but much is being done and it is important not to be overwhelmed by the challenges and difficulties we face.

The European Union will continue to work closely with all actors to promote freedom of religion or belief. We will do so with the strong conviction that all human rights have equal worth. If religion is used to undermine another right, all other rights can be weakened.

Freedom is all encompassing, and this must always be our guide in promoting freedom of religion or belief. Thank you.

Role of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights:

The tasks of the Special Representative for Human Rights are to enhance the effectiveness and visibility of EU human rights policy. The Special Representative has a broad, flexible mandate, which provides the possibility of adapting to evolving geopolitical circumstances. The Special Representative will work closely with the European External Action Service, which will provide full support to his work.

As former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore had government responsibility for the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, including its core human rights provisions. Since October 2015, he has been the High Representative’s Special Envoy for the Colombian Peace Process. His work and contribution to the peace process were greatly appreciated by all sides.

EU Special Representatives promote the EU’s policies and interests in certain regions and countries as well as issues of particular concern or interest for the EU. They play an active role in efforts to consolidate peace, stability and the rule of law. The first EU Special Representatives were appointed in 1996. Currently, eight EUSRs support the work of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

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