Dr. Ghanea assumed her mandate as the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in August 2022, and this preliminary report is the first of many that she will present to the UN Human Rights Council during her 3 year appointment. UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Council to report and advise on human rights issues.
The intervention, delivered by Humanist International’s Advocacy Officer, Lillie Ashworth, reaffirmed the importance of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate in promoting a “human rights framing of freedom of religion or belief standards.”
Ashworth’s remarks focused on the risk imposed by the “incursion of anti-rights actors at the highest human rights institutions.” Many of these anti-rights actors deliberately seek to “misuse, mischaracterize and instrumentalize” the right to FoRB, often in order to serve a politicized agenda and to undermine fundamental rights, such as sexual and reproductive health rights, access to comprehensive sexuality education, the right to sexual orientation and gender identity and freedom of expression, amongst others.
“Without vocal opposition,” Ashworth said, “there is a risk that their intentional distortion of what FoRB protects will be entrenched and used to undermine equality for all.”
In her concluding remarks, Dr. Ghanea reiterated her commitment to supporting and addressing violations of FoRB for all, including attacks on the non-religious, amongst other belief groups.