International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief (22 August 2023): Statement by the High Representative on behalf of the EU


Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion

                                  Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights


75 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), which enshrined the rights of all human beings to have, change and manifest their religion or belief, too many individuals in many parts of the world still suffer from threats, physical attacks, killings, discrimination, and persecution, solely on basis of their religion or belief.

On the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief, the European Union wants to remember all the victims of such violence, and call on once again all States to fully respect article 18 of the UDHR, and combat any acts of religious persecution and discrimination.

All around the world individuals at risk should be protected, and the perpetrators of acts of violence must be brought to justice. Religion should never be invoked as a justification for targeting persons belonging to minorities.  The European Union recalls that freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression are universal, interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing rights.

In addition to States, religious and non-confessional actors, politicians, civil society organisations, private companies have a key role to play in detecting and countering acts of incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence against individuals and groups.

The EU will continue to use all tools at its disposal, including human rights dialogues, resolutions in the multilateral fora, cooperation with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), interfaith initiatives and emergency support to human rights defenders, to protect freedom of religion or belief for all.

As we mark the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the EU remains a staunch supporter of civil society organisations and defenders of freedom of religion or belief. Pursuing this goal, the European Union will this year launch a call for proposals of € 5 million to support organisations working to promote and protect FoRB.

The European Union continues to stand up for freedom of religion and belief, abroad and at home.

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