Norway would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief for an important report.
We are indeed impressed by the extensive activities carried out by the Special Rapporteur since taking over the mandate.
And we fully agree with the Special Rapporteur in his discussion of the concept “recognition” - states must always ensure that all individuals can enjoy their freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief on the basis of respect for their inherent human dignity.
Respect for human rights should not depend on administrative registration procedures. As the Special Rapporteur rightly underlines, Procedures for obtaining legal personality status should be quick, transparent, fair, inclusive and non-discriminatory.
We would like to raise three brief issues here today:
First of all, women, in particular, are vulnerable to abuse and attacks. We appreciate the gender perspective applied by the Special Rapporteur in his report. We agree that women should be brought in as participants in formal inter-religious dialogues. We would, however, have liked to see an analysis of how dramatic societal changes, like we today see in the Middle East, could influence the situation for religious minorities in general and women in particular.
Seond, we agree with the special rapporteur that it is important to raise the concern of forced conversion of women from religious minorities.
Third, the Special Rapporteur mentions that strategic responses to hate speech were raised in regional workshops, including efforts to empower and give a voice to minorities. We would like to inform you that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have launch a “minority project”, focusing on religious minorities, and would very much like to work with the Special Rapporteur.
As for the present report’s final recommendation, the Special Rapporteur deserves credit for a precise language. The recommendations deserve to be studied both by states and religious groups.
See the statement as a webcast