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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Spanish / Latin America / UN –

Source: Republic of Colombia

Bogotá (Oct. 23/20). At the close of the Forum on freedom of religion and belief organized by the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Interior of Colombia; The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Blum, assured that a milestone has been marked in the region by bringing together authorities from across the hemisphere to address an issue that is becoming increasingly important in the dialogue between nations and societies: freedom of religion and of beliefs.

“Colombia has wanted to be the host country of this Forum in order to contribute to the positioning of this significant issue in different public policy agendas, including foreign policy,” said the Foreign Minister, who also expressed that it is the duty of the States to prevent and face threats to all human rights and that “the comprehensive policies for the promotion of human rights adopted by each country must include, among them, freedom of religion and belief in accordance with treaties and instruments.

“This meeting of governments, religious leaders of the hemisphere, academic sectors and civil society organizations allows us to hold a frank and enriching discussion to guarantee respect for freedom and diversity of beliefs,” said Minister Blum.

During her speech, the head of the foreign affairs portfolio emphasized that the common goal of the States is to guarantee the full exercise of this right; eliminate all forms of discrimination based on beliefs, convictions or religions; and to confront threats that affect religious minorities in contexts where extremism appears.

Finally, he pointed out that “The freedom of religions and beliefs contributes to the promotion of the dignity of all human beings, as well as to a culture of peace, tolerance and coexistence.”

Remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Claudia Blum, at the closing of the Hemispheric Forum on Religious Freedom

Friday, October 23, 2020

Mr. Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS

Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations;

Mr. Samuel Brownback, US Itinerant Ambassador for International Religious Liberty Issues;

Mr. Mark Wells, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Colombia;

Ministers, Vice Ministers, and heads of delegation of the participating countries;

extinct religious leaders, panelists, academics and representatives of civil society;

Dear participants:

We have marked a milestone in our region by coming together at this Forum to address an increasingly important issue in the dialogue between nations and societies: freedom of religion and belief.

Colombia has wanted to be the host country of this Hemispheric Forum, with the purpose of contributing to the positioning of this significant issue on different public policy agendas, including foreign policy.

States must ensure citizens guarantees for the exercise of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, fundamental rights enshrined in international instruments.

Among the most valuable frameworks that define these freedoms, I want to highlight the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and, in our Hemisphere, the American Convention on Human Rights.

These are freedoms also included in treaties related to the rights of migrant workers, the elimination of racial discrimination, the status of refugees, among others.

Likewise, in 1981 the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.

In turn, the States have approved resolutions in multilateral forums, such as the UN and the OAS, aimed at making the fundamental rights that concern us today a reality.

Dear colleagues and participants:

Despite international recognition of freedom of religion, conscience and belief, a significant percentage of the world’s population lives in countries where this right is threatened or denied.

In different regions and societies, growing acts of intolerance and violence are observed that prevent their free exercise by individuals and communities.

In the Potomac Declaration, adopted in July 2018 at the First Ministerial Meeting for the Promotion of Religious Freedom, it was recognized that persecution, repression and discrimination based on religion, belief, or lack of belief, are a daily reality for many people in the world.

This Declaration underlines that religious freedom is essential to achieve peace and stability within and among nations. It emphasizes that their protection is related to other political, social and cultural rights. And it warns that where freedom of religion, conscience and belief are absent, phenomena of conflict, instability and terrorism appear.

It is the duty of States to prevent and confront threats to all human rights. Rights that the international community has recognized as indivisible and interdependent. In this sense, the comprehensive policies for the promotion of human rights that each country adopts must include freedom of religion and belief.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In most of the countries of our continent we have progressively built legal systems and tools for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion, belief, and conscience.

In Colombia, our Constitution includes freedom of religion and religion as a fundamental right. And, our Congress has passed statutory legislation to develop this right. The jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court has defined guarantees and guidelines for the practical application of these freedoms, in different areas.

The National Government through the Ministry of the Interior formulates and implements the national policy of freedom and equality of religion, religion and conscience. And local authorities have adopted territorial policies in this matter.

As part of the national interest in guaranteeing this right, since February of this year Colombia is part of the International Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Belief. There we work with countries that share the vision of the importance of promoting this right, in accordance with the international obligations of States.

Every year, Colombia commemorates the National Day of Religious and Religious Freedom. It is an occasion to recognize the richness and diversity of beliefs in our country and emphasize the peaceful coexistence between them. Likewise, to highlight the importance of protecting the right of people to adopt any creed, change their religion or not profess any religious belief; and to express their religion or beliefs, individually or collectively, both in public and in private.

Friends and friends:

Colombia considers dialogue in Forums such as the one we have convened to be of the greatest relevance, to define actions that enable us to face the challenges that put the freedom of religion and belief at risk.

This meeting of governments, religious leaders of the Hemisphere, academic sectors, and civil society organizations, allows us to hold a frank and enriching discussion to guarantee respect for freedom and diversity of beliefs.

Our common goal is to guarantee the full exercise of this right; eliminate all forms of discrimination based on beliefs, convictions or religions; and to confront threats that affect religious minorities in contexts where extremism appears.

The freedom of religions and beliefs contributes to the promotion of the dignity of all human beings, as well as to a culture of peace, tolerance and coexistence. I invite you in today’s ministerial segment to share good practices and lessons learned, which make it possible to strengthen national policies and cooperation that promote the full exercise of freedoms in our societies.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

MIL Translation OSI