United Nations Security Council Receives its First Religious Freedom Mandate

August 25, 2023

Paul Marshall, RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Director, wrote an article published last month in Providence on a new resolution passed by the United Nations affirming the importance of religious freedom, reflecting a notable elevation of this fundamental human right on the international stage. Marshall writes:

Freedom of religion has usually fared poorly in United Nations deliberations. However, in a little noticed move, the Security Council, the UN’s highest body, passed a resolution earlier this month affirming the importance of religious freedom and thereby created a new reporting mechanism. This is one of several recent moves to embed religious freedom within international deliberations.

One reason why religious freedom has not received due attention internationally is that many leaders wish to play to domestic constituencies with animus against particular religious groups, especially minority ones. Others, like the Chinese government, have an animus against religion itself. Also, many in Western countries that want to defend religious freedom often cannot see any point of general UN proposals and committees. After all, if Iran has been chair of the United Nations Commission on Nuclear Disarmament and Saudi Arabia has chaired the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), then how can such resolutions be taken seriously? 

But to many less influential countries in the world these resolutions mean a great deal and so the incremental accretion of such affirmations can provide direction and limits on future actions in the international arena. What may at first appear to be merely bureaucratic shuffling may have real consequences.

And, while these processes are slow, even glacial, there is real progress.

Read the full article: “United Nations Security Council Receives its First Religious Freedom Mandate.”