NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Protecting freedom of thought and conscience within the international community of nations


Empowering women through the advancement of the freedom of religion or belief

Sponsor: The Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief
When: 14 March 2019, 1:15pm – 2:45pm
Where: Baha’i International Center, 866 UN Plaza, #120

Overview: On the occasion of the 63rd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the NGO Committee on FoRB is bringing together three experts to discuss the ways in which the freedom of religion or belief empowers women. Women disproportionately suffer the effects of religious persecution. One of the most strategic methods of empowering women in many places in the world is to ensure the freedom of religion or belief. This event brings together several key leaders to discuss a variety of ways in which ensuring the freedom of religion or belief is critical to empowering women.


  • Anurima Bhargava
    Commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious
  • Freedom (USCIRF) Katayoun Kishi, Ph.D.
    Research Associate, Pew Research Center, Religion & Public Life Division
  • Helene Fisher
    Global Gender Persecution Specialist, Open Doors International

International religious freedom: A new era for advocacy in response to a new age of challenges and threats

Sponsors: The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and the Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief
When: 1 March 2019, 11:00am – 12:30pm
Where: UN Headquarters, ECOSOC Chamber

Overview: This past year marked 70 years since the international community formally recognized the right to freedom of religion or belief for all with the adoption of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Yet the threats to religious freedom remain severe, as there have been in the past few years widespread and severe violations of religious freedom, including genocide against religious minorities. At this critical moment, several of the highest-ranking leaders on international religious freedom come together for the first time at the United Nations to analyze global assaults on religious freedom and strategize responses. This historic event promises to build on the momentum of the first annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by the US government in July 2018, that brought together leaders from over eighty countries and presaged a new era for the right to freedom of religion or belief.

Objectives: The goals of the event are: 1) to promote a better understanding within the United Nations of the current state of international religious freedom, with a focus on some of the most pressing issues, such as restrictions on religious freedom under the guise of counterterrorism, blasphemy, apostasy and anti-conversion laws, and repression by non-state actors; 2) to raise awareness of efforts underway to increase religious freedom globally; and 3) to provide both governmental and non-governmental representatives with an opportunity to discuss plans for collaboration and best practices.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • H.E. Sam Brownback
    US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
  • Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama
    Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria
  • Dr. Hajnalka Juhasz
    Ministerial Commissioner and Member of the National Assembly of Hungary
  • H.E. Bernardito Auza (moderator)
    Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

Freedom of Religion or Belief: An Indicator of Human Rights Protections

Sponsor: Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief (New York)
When: 22 October 2018, 1:15pm – 2:45pm
Where: Baha’i International Center  

Overview: Recent research demonstrates that national levels of protection for the freedom of religion or belief function as a barometer for legal recognition of human rights more broadly. Understanding why and how religious freedom plays this keystone role is therefore integral to advancing strong national and international human rights regimes. This event will advance the global conversation around this critical topic by bringing together three United Nations Special Rapporteurs focusing on freedom of religion or belief, cultural rights, and minority issues, respectively. Their insights will serve as the springboard for conversation about next steps to advance the freedom of religion or belief, and, in turn, other fundamental human rights.


  • Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of religion or belief;
  • Karima Bennoune, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights;
  • Fernand de Varennes, UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues

Annual General Meeting – 25 June 2018

The Committee’s Annual General Meeting will take place on Monday, 25 June 2018, from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at the American Jewish Committee (hosted by AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights), 165 East 56th Street (between Lexington and Third Avenues). A light lunch will be provided.

Mark Selby, Senior Policy Advisor on FoRB, Global Affairs Canada, will brief the Committee on the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief’s (ICG-FoRB) recent work and upcoming initiatives. Yerkin Akhiinzhanov, DPR of Kazakhstan to the UN, will also join us to brief the Committee on the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

Please come prepared with any questions or ideas you might have for our speakers as there will be an open discussion following the presentations.

Please RSVP directly to by Thursday, 21 June.

The Role of Media in Promoting Women’s Rights to Freedom of Religion and Expression

Monday, March 12 | 8:30—10:00 a.m.
Salvation Army, Auditorium, 221 E. 52nd Ave.


  • Michael DeDora, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Mary Darling, Producer, Little Mosque on the Prairie
  • Karri Whipple, World Association for Christian Communication

Panelists will explore how members of the media proactively contribute to a world in which women are
free to choose their faith and express their views and aspirations. They will also address the ways in which
women’s rights to freedom of religion and expression are presented by the media, and how the media
can proactively contribute to helping women safeguard those rights.

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