My Department did not attend the 2nd International Conference on Christian Persecution convened by the Government of Hungary on 26 to 28 November. The EU was represented at the conference by the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU, Ján Figel, who addressed the conference underlining the EU’s commitment to freedom of religion or belief.
During November, my Department attended two other international meetings on freedom of religion or belief in The Hague: 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, of which Ireland is a member.
Ireland strongly condemns all forms of persecution on the basis of religion or belief, irrespective of where they occur or who the victims are. 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 the Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World.
Ireland has co-sponsored resolutions on freedom of religion or belief at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2019 and the 74th session of the UN General Assembly Third Committee in November 2019. As mentioned, we are also a member of the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief which is an informal cross-regional network which aims to encourage information sharing and cooperation between governments to discuss joint advocacy strategies.
Ireland also works within an EU context to address the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. 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. The EU Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy includes a commitment to the promotion of freedom of religion or belief.