In an article published today in Newsweek, Miles Windsor, Senior Manager for Strategy and Campaigns with RFI’s Middle East Action Team, reflects on the challenges and opportunities that the upcoming International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief, to be held in London July 5-6, presents.
The thought of a government conference might not inspire you. It might even conjure chilling images of time-wasting, vision-starved, enthusiasm-depleting black holes of banality. There is one summit on the U.K. government’s calendar that has the potential to overturn such unfortunate preconceptions. However, to achieve the full potential of this summer’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, it will require U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to seize the moment. There must be a modicum of will at the Foreign Office to aim higher than mediocrity. This is a platform from which to launch a range of dynamic policy announcements but the planning for any real outcomes must start now.
The first ministerials, hosted by the United States in 2018 and 2019, were the biggest events of their kind ever hosted at the U.S. Department of State. Representatives of around a hundred rights-defending and rights-abusing governments came together to make commitments and discuss policy. More than 1,000 religious leaders and members of various faith communities, organizations fighting for the rights of people all around the world, academics, journalists and survivors of religious freedom violations also descended on a sweltering Washington, D.C. to speak out, to stand up to persecution and to call for change. There was an effervescent atmosphere, at least among the civil society events held in and around the conference. A contagious spirit of optimism, creative problem-solving and collaborative resolve flowed through the city.
Now it’s the turn of the United Kingdom to conjure the vibrant energy of this summit. There is all the potential for the U.K. to use the ministerial to step up as a leader in the promotion of this foundational freedom, orchestrated by the prime minister’s energetic and determined Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Fiona Bruce.
Read the full article: How Liz Truss Can Champion Religious Freedom at U.K. Ministerial Conference.