The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Throughout history, religious expression and people of faith have played important roles in our global community, promoting peace and tolerance. As one of the first rights enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America, the protection of religious freedom is a cherished value worthy of tireless defense. Today, the advancement of international religious freedom remains one of the defining challenges of the 21st century.
The UAE’s Year of Tolerance has worked to highlight inclusivity – a shared value between the United States and the United Arab Emirates where respect for religious plurality has allowed the UAE to showcase its vibrant diversity.
As part of our commitment to this freedom, the United States will host the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. from July 16-18, 2019. The upcoming Ministerial will build upon last year’s event, bringing together religious community members, foreign governments, international organizations, and a range of religious, faith-based, and civil society organizations to share experiences and offer concrete ways to advance this shared freedom.
Participants will gather to discuss challenges, address religious discrimination and persecution, and promote respect and the preservation of religious liberties. The Ministerial programming will also include the first-ever International Religious Freedom Awards for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to promoting religious freedom.
Defending freedom of religion is the collective responsibility of our global community. This February, we were pleased to cohost with the UAE the first regional follow-on conference titled Interfaith Tolerance Education to Combat Extremism. In just a few days, we look forward to welcoming the UAE delegation to the Ministerial in Washington, headed by His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah.
With participation from all corners of the globe, the 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom affirms the U.S. and international community’s commitment to religious freedom. We are proud to unite with individuals from all faiths to come together and stand up for a fundamental human right.