Vice President Lone Ree Milkær made an intervention on behalf of EHF at the 3rd Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting at OSCE held online on the 9th and 10th of November. The theme of the meeting was Freedom of Religion or Belief: The Role of Digital Technologies and Civil Society Actors in Advancing This Human Right for All.
The intervention focused on the role of civil society in advancing the right to freedom of religion or belief for all, which was the theme of the third session of the meeting.
“I would like to point to the importance of securing equal rights to all religious and belief based organizations. And to emphasize that this includes BOTH religions and beliefs.
We have in other interventions heard about the importance of being able to express your religion or belief, especially in a pandemic. This includes gathering in times of prayer, rituals and ceremonies which of course have been restricted to align with the pandemic guidelines. But not on an equal basis, as belief based organization have had to argue their equal rights in several instances, in example for gathering at ceremonies.
Even though international conventions stress Freedom of Religion or Belief as a fundamental human right, belief based organizations, including the humanists, do not have the same rights and recognitions as organizations based in religious belief in some countries of this region – and I am sad to say that this includes my own native country of Denmark.
This lack of inclusion of all life stances leaves groups of citizens with no representation in important decision making and in ethic discussions.
In these times of the pandemic, which poses an extra need for asking meaningful questions and looking for answers in meaningful communities, it is increasingly important to be sure to include all groups in the conversation on moral and ethics, in example in discussions of vaccinations and health care.
The European Humanist Federation encourages the countries in the region to pay extra attention to the ramifications of not bestowing equal rights on all ForB organizations, especially those representing minorities. And to include belief based organizations in interfaith dialogue.
The importance of interfaith dialogue, both online and in real life, was stressed in the session this morning and by the presenters in this session and. Even though it is not a quick fix, I would like to underline this. To paraphrase Dr. Clarkes comments from yesterday: common ground do not exist before we imagine it and then we have to work really hard to create it.
European Humanist Federation would like to remind the countries in the region to align with international human rights conventions and secure equal rights to all organizations of both religion and belief, in legislation as well as in practice.”