Launch of new Oslo principles on Freedom of Religion or Belief

The right to freedom or religion or belief is increasingly becoming a political tool. So how can we deal with this challenge?

The future challenges of FoRB: Lena Larsen, Director of the Oslo Coalition, in discussion with Mark Lattimer, Director of Minority Rights Group, and Nazila Ghanea, researcher at Oxford University (photo: T.M.F. Vestheim)

Around 60 experts and practitioners in the field of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) attended the two-day conference 'Politicization of Freedom of Religion or Belief – For Better and Worse' held in Oslo last week.

Among key speakers were Heiner Bielefeldt, recent UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Mark Latimer, director of Minority Rights Group and Nazila Ghanea, researcher at Oxford University.

Watch UN Special Rapporteur Bielefeldt's opening statement here.

New Oslo guidelines addresses politicization

Reviewing recent developments in the field, and drawing on nearly two decades of experience since the Oslo Declaration (1998), the conference endorsed a new set on principles: The Oslo Principles on the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief

Watch our short video in which Bielefeldt analyses how the politicisation of the right to freedom of religion or belief has evolved - and how governments are undermining this right currently. 

Increased attention to the protection of FoRB

In recent years, states and international organizations have given increasing attention to the international protection of FORB. These developments offer welcome opportunities to prevent violations of FORB, but also raise many questions about how and why FORB is promoted.

Sometimes, FORB is even pitted against other rights, such as freedom of speech, gender equality, and the rights of minorities. All actors, regardless of their diverse beliefs and agendas, should be encouraged to seek inclusive approaches to promote FORB as a universal right in line with international standards.

The Oslo conference was hosted by the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, in cooperation with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University.

By Tone Magni F. Vestheim
Published Oct. 31, 2016 04:43 PM - Last modified Dec. 8, 2016 05:28 PM