Advocacy statements

UPR Statement on Denmark

  • Date / 2021
  • Location / Denmark
  • Relevant Institution / International Humanist and Ethical Union
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review

Oral statement

Humanists International

UN Human Rights Council, 48th Session (September 13th – October 8th 2021)

UPR: Denmark


Thank you Madame President and thank you to the Danish delegation for their presentation.

We are pleased to note Denmark has accepted the recommendation to eliminate discrimination faced by minority groups and its commitment to ensuring that “all citizens are equal before the law”.[1]

In an increasingly diverse country, there is a need to broaden the concept of ‘Danishness’ to be inclusive of all religions and beliefs. As we put forward in our written submission,[2] the understanding of the term ‘belief’, in Danish society and legislation, should be expanded to incorporate identity-shaping convictions beyond traditional forms of monotheistic faith and worship. Non-religious people and organizations must be treated on equal footing with their religious counterparts.[3]

The right to equal treatment is especially important in the context of children’s education.

In public schools, “Knowledge of Christianity”[4] is a compulsory subject, regardless of personal belief. Children can only opt-out if their parents or guardian takes on the burden of providing an alternate form of “religious knowledge” education for them.[5]

In order to promote children’s philosophical, moral and cultural development in an inclusive manner, we recommend that the public school syllabus encourage universal, human-rights based values, such as critical thinking, and refrain from preaching any one religion.[6]

The right to dignity and equal treatment must also be upheld in the asylum system.  Currently, the needs and values of non-religious asylum-seekers are poorly understood, which can result in discrimination in terms of how their case is assessed, and lack of sensitivity in terms of their treatment.[7]

We recommend that Denmark develop guidelines and train officials regarding persecution on the basis of religion or belief, in order to better protect asylum-seekers who are vulnerable to this form of persecution.

Thank you.


[1] Recommendation 60.88; A/HRC/48/10/Add.1.

[2] https://uprdoc.ohchr.org/uprweb/downloadfile.aspx?filename=8571&file=EnglishTranslation

[3] E.g. See General Comment 22 from UN Human Rights Committee

[4] In Danish: Kristendomskundskab

[5] https://fot.humanists.international/countries/europe-northern-europe/denmark/

[6] E.g. See General Comment 1 adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child

[7] https://pure.au.dk/portal/files/172243359/Faith_in_the_system_OA.pdf

Suggested academic reference

'UPR Statement on Denmark', Humanists International

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