Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
50. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome of discussions at recent EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings in relation to the persecution of Christians in many countries throughout the world; if he put forward a specific proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3711/20]
Ireland strongly condemns all forms of persecution on the basis of religion or belief, irrespective of where they occur. We are committed to promoting freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the rights of persons belonging to religious minorities. This commitment to promoting freedom of religion or belief is reaffirmed in Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World. We regularly advocate for effective action to counter the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in all relevant international fora, including within the European Union and United Nations.
The EU's policy in this area is led by the Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief, which were adopted during our Presidency in 2013. At the February Foreign Affairs Council, Council Conclusions were adopted on EU Priorities in UN Human Rights Fora in 2020 which reaffirm the EU's commitment to the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. The EU confirmed that it will condemn persecution, discrimination and violence against persons belonging to religious minorities and communities and the abuse of blasphemy laws, while defending the right for individuals to manifest their religion or belief, to change or leave a religion or belief.
At the United Nations, Ireland engaged actively in EU led initiatives on freedom of religion or belief at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2019 and the 74th session of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in November 2019 and co-sponsored resolutions in both instances.
At the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, currently underway in Geneva, Ireland delivered a national statement reiterating our commitment to promoting freedom of religion or belief and our support for the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
Ireland regularly takes part in other international meetings on freedom of religion or belief and most recently attended the 7th Meeting of the Istanbul Process on combatting religious intolerance and the 11th Meeting of the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, both of which took place in The Hague in November last year.