Historic Gathering on Freedom of Religion and Belief
Earlier this month, 80 parliamentarians, diplomats and religious leaders from almost 50 different countries gathered in New York City for an international consultation on Multinational Efforts to Strengthen Freedom of Religion or Belief. This event, scheduled to precede the United Nations General Assembly, was organized by The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB).
Open Doors USA Advocacy Director, Kristin Wright was in attendance at this landmark event which addressed ways to increase international cooperation, in defense of the basic human right of freedom of religion and belief.
The main public event included a range of interactive discussions. Featured speakers included Robert George, Chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and David Saperstein, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Many international parliamentarians and religious leaders also addressed the group.
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini, was one of the featured speakers at this historic gathering. Kristin Wright had a private meeting with Naghmeh and commented, “I am amazed by the perseverance and faith of this courageous woman as she campaigns relentlessly for her husband’s freedom and the freedom of others.”
The parliamentarians met in closed door sessions where several concrete actions were taken, including the signing of the New York Resolution for Freedom of Religion or Belief, where the lawmakers renewed a commitment to promoting these fundamental rights. They also drafted letters to several heads of state.
Although freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental right, as outlined by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these rights are increasingly violated around the world with devastating human consequences. Kristin Wright shared, “I am grateful to have attended this unprecedented gathering. I was pleased to see the tremendous level of participation and encouraged by the concrete actions that were taken in defense of religious freedom around the world.”