Monica Belitoiu, Executive Director of the Romanian Secular-Humanist Association, delivered the statement by video intervention on behalf of the two humanist organizations during the adoption of Romania’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report.*
The statement recognized the strides made by Romania in the area of freedom of religion or belief, which have occurred as the nation becomes increasingly diverse. Given this diversity, the statement continued, it is crucial to step up action on addressing discrimination and intolerance against religious and non-religious minorities. The organizations welcomed the acceptance of a number of recommendations in the UPR report on the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups, which included people of different religions and beliefs. However, the statement outlined disappointment that Romania failed to adopt a suggestion on a comprehensive national strategy on the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups.
In February 2021, the Romanian Government adopted its first National Strategy for preventing and combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech for 2021-2023. The statement called for this strategy to be amended to include people of all beliefs, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations. The National Strategy and associated action plan must be equally applied to all. Humanists International and the Romanian Secular-Humanist Association also underscored that the National Strategy and any laws to combat hate speech must respect the right to free expression, and so must be in line with the UN Rabat Plan of Action.
Ms. Belitoiu’s statement highlighted the necessity of these changes against the backdrop of the rich diversity of Romania. She said, “A nation that recognises its inherent diversity and ensures equality for all its citizens is stronger, more harmonious, and just.” Ms. Belitoiu also reiterated the commitment of the Romanian Secular-Humanist Association to continue to collaborate with the Government of Romania to ensure human rights are universally respected, protected, and upheld.
*The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a UN process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States, by each other. It is a unique human rights mechanism in so far as it addresses all countries and all human rights. The Working Group on the UPR, which is composed of the Human Rights Council’s 47 Member States and chaired by the Human Rights Council President, conducts country reviews.