Infringements on religious freedom indicate early signs of violent conflict

Kelsey Zorzi

Infringements on freedom of religion indicate the early signs of violent conflict, a United Nations special rapporteur has said.

Speaking at an event in New York on the importance of the freedom of religion acting as an overall indicator of human rights protections, Ahmed Shaheed said: “From religious belief comes the idea that every human being is equal to one another.”

He was joined by Karima Bennoune, who looked at cultural rights, and Dr Fernand de Varennes, who discussed minority issues.

They focused on the global situation of religious freedom and how this impacts and acts as a barometer for the legal recognition of human rights.

“Infringements on freedom of religion or belief serve as the early warning signs of violent conflict. It is not only a barometer of other human rights, it is central to providing human rights more broadly. Freedom of religion or belief is at the heart of rights of minorities,” said Dr de Varennes.

Recent studies show that protections for the freedom of religion on a national level often provide for an overall higher recognition of human rights.

“Violations of the freedom of religion are often closely linked to or lead to violations of other human rights. We are glad to host this event and broaden the discussion on this link.

“Similarly, the protection of religious freedom also leads to increased legal recognition of other human rights. We hope to increase the realization of this in the international community,” said Kelsey Zorzi, who moderated the discussion and serves as president of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom at ADF International.

ADF International has documented the shortcomings in upholding religious freedom in the white paper, The UN’s Failure to Promote and Protect Religious Freedom.