Freedom of Religion or Belief and International Law: The time for a treaty is now


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The Women’s UN Report Network published this paper dealing with freedom of religion or belief and international law in 2016.

Across the globe, the practice of religion or belief “is one of the fundamental elements in [a person’s] conception of life.” In some parts of the world, however, the practice of a religion by some conflicts with the freedoms and rights of others, including the right not to profess any religion or belief. Currently, no international, legally binding text explicitly addresses the right to freedom of religion or belief. Past attempts to address this void have largely failed, and as a result religious intolerance and extremism continue to dominate public discourse.

Following a brief outline of the relevant international law acknowledging and establishing a framework for freedom of religion or belief, this paper addresses the continued and urgent need for ratification of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the need for an international treaty or convention on the elimination of all forms of intolerance or discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.

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