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Selected activities of the Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief

August 9, 2018
Briefing on the International Religious Freedom Summit

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, briefed selected Danish partners and stakeholders on Denmark’s participation in and lessons learned from the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC as well as the follow-up process.

 

 

July 26, 2018
Bilateral meetings with Special Representatives from US, UK and EU

Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation had bilateral meetings with the US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Mr. Samuel Dale Brownback, to discuss the outcome of the International Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom as well as the future cooperation between US and Denmark and US/EU cooperation in promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief. Ulla Tørnæs also had bilateral meetings with EU’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis and the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon. During the two they discussed the outcome of the International Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom as well as areas for future cooperation and US/EU cooperation in promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief.

 

July 26, 2018
Meeting with the Administrator of US Agency for International Development

Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation met with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, Mark Green, to discuss amongst others programs in support of disadvantaged, marginalized and persecuted religious or belief groups.

 

July 25, 2018
Meeting with Survivors of Religious Persecution

During the day Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation met with a number of survivors of religious persecution from the MENA region.

 

 

July 24, 2018
Engaging Transformative Religious Narratives for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

The United States Institute of Peace and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and Muslims for Progressive Values working together under the Partnership for Religion and Development are inviting to a discussion on engaging transformative religious narratives for the elimination of violence against women. Ambassador, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Franz-Michael Mellbin will participate for Denmark. The event will be held on 24 July from 11:30 am - 1:00 pm in Kathwari Amphitheater at the United States Institute of Peace, located at 2301 Constitution Avenue NW. Please contact the office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief if you would like to participate.

 

 

July 23 to 26, 2018
International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC

Ullla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation, will participate in the first International Religious Freedom Summit from July 25 to 26. Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief will be accompanying the Minister and will arrive for meetings earlier in the week.

 

July 23, 2018
Meeting with the Executive Director of Middle East Concern

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with the Executive Director of Middle East Concern, Daniel Hoffman, to discuss freedom of religion or belief issues in the MENA region.

 

July 16-20, 2018
DK Outreach ahead of the International Religious Freedom Summit

Between 16 and 20 July, Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief had brief consultations with representatives from Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, UK and US as well as a number of Faith Based Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in preparation of the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC, 25 to 26 July, 2018.

July 12 to 13, 2018
OSCE meeting on Interreligious Engagement and Freedom of Religion or Belief

On 12-13 July 2018 Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated in an OSCE meeting on Interreligious Engagement and Freedom of Religion or Belief as part of the official programme of Italy’s 2018 OSCE Chairmanship and the Towards Med meetings co-organized by the UK AllParty Parliamentary Group on International FoRB, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Italian Institute for International Political Studies. The focus of the discussions was on identifying specific actions that state actors and others can take to promote FoRB.

July 12, 2018
Meeting with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom's Special Representative the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief to discuss preparations for and priorities at the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC, 25 to 26 July, 2018. EU’s engagement in promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief and future British-Danish cooperation was also raised during the meeting.

 

July 12, 2018
Meeting with John Kinahan from Forum 18

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with John Kinahan from Forum 18 to discuss the promotion and protection of Human Rights of religious minorities, in particular in the MENA region.

 

July 5, 2018

Participation in the Swedish Almedalen Week

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, will participate in the traditional Almedalsveckan on Gotland. The Ambassador will do this as a speaker in a seminar titled "Freedom of Religion or Belief: towards a more effective foreign policy".

 

June 28, 2018
Meeting with Archbishop Tobji Aleppo

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with Archbishop Tobji, Aleppo, to discuss situation of the Catholic community in Syria in general and Aleppo specifically and the future prospects for the Catholic community in Syria. Furthermore, Archbishop Tobji outlined the Catholic relief and support programs in Syria.

 

June 28, 2018
Consultation in Bruxelles
Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, had consultations in Bruxelles with partners and stakeholders on FoRB, including Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for freedom of religion or belief and MEP Dennis De Jong.

 

June 27, 2018
Meeting with World Council of Churches

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with Director Peter Prove of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs to discuss global freedom of religion or belief issues, including specifically developments in the MENA region and Asia.

June 24 to 27, 2018
PaRD (Partnership for Religion and Development) General Assembly in Geneva

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief and Head of Section Siva Aziz participated in the General Assembly where Denmark was re-elected to the Steering Committee. The next PaRD General Assembly will be hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen in June 2019.

 

June 22, 2018
Internal Freedom of Religion or Belief-seminar at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On June 22, the Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief is hosting a seminar to enhance internal capacity on FoRB-issues. In addition to the Special Representative, guest speakers will provide the latest take on FoRB and best practices within the field.

June 22, 2018
Visit by the PaRD (Partnership for Religion and Development) Secretariat in Copenhagen.
The visit included meetings with a range of departments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin and the Office of the Special Representative. Just as PaRD participated in a CSO/FBO round table organized by DanChurchAid.

June 13, 2018
2nd meeting of the Contact Forum for Denmark’s initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief in 'Landstingssalen' in the Danish Parliament

On June 13, the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, hosted the 2nd meeting of the Contact Forum for Denmark's initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Contact Forum, which aims to gather Danish stakeholders on Freedom of Religion or Belief, is open to all. The Minister provided an update on the work done so far and engaged in a very fruitful discussion on the intersection between women's rights, gender equality and freedom of religion or belief.

 

Program:

Session I - Status of the Danish Initiative (in Danish)

11:00 – Welcome and status report by Ulla Tørnæs, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation

11:15 – Two opponents critiqued the Danish Initiative: Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen, Secretary-General for DanChurchAid & Anders Ellebæk Madsen, Editor for 'Church and Belief' at the Danish daily Kristeligt Dagblad

11:35 – Rebuttal by the Minister

11.45 – Open debate and Q&A

12.20 – Sandwich lunch

Session II - Women's Rights, Gender Equality and Freedom of Religion or Belief (in English)

12.50 – Presentation by Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation

13.00 – Presentation by Marie Juul Petersen, Senior Reseacher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights

13.10 – Presentation by Azza Karam, Senior Culture Advisor at the United Nation's Population Fund

13.25 – Q&A

14.00 – Conclusion

June 8, 2018
Meeting with the
Assistant Minister, Ambassador, Dr. Ahmed Ihab Gamaledin of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with the Egyptian Assistant Minister, Human Rights & International Humanitarian & social Affairs, Ambassador, Dr. Ahmed Ihab Gamaledin, to discuss cooperation within the field of Human Rights between Egypt and Denmark.

 

May 18, 2018
Meeting with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
On May 18, Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, hosted a meeting with Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom's Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

 

May 15, 2018
Roundtable discussion on combating antisemitism in Bruxelles

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Bulgarian Presidency and the European Jewish Congress to follow up on the European Parliament Resolution on combating antisemitism of June 1, 2017. The Commission, Member States and MEPs will describe the work done so far and share best practices.

 

May 14, 2018
3rd International Conference on Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East, Bruxelles

Denmark took part in the third International Conference on Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East. It is an important topic which also falls under the purview of the Danish initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief as the Middle East is also one of the geographic priorities.

 

May 14-15, 2018
Consultations with stakeholders and partner countries on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Bruxelles

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, had consultations in Bruxelles with partners and stakeholders on FoRB, including representatives from the United States of America.

 

April 24, 2018

Inaugural meeting of the Friends' Group for the 'Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence That Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes' in New York

Mette Nørgaard Dissing-Spandet, Head of Department for International Law and Human Rights at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took part in the inaugural meeting of a Friends' Group for the 'Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence That Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes'. The meeting, which was held in New York, was positive with broad support to the Plan of Action.

 

April 16, 2018

Meeting with the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Denmark

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, visited with the Egyptian Ambassador to Denmark to discuss the Danish initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Egypt is one of the priority countries of the Danish initiative, which makes a good working relationship with the government of Egypt an important prerequisite to success.

 

March 23, 2018

Meeting in Copenhagen with strategic partners on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, hosted a gathering of strategic partners to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs relevant to the work on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The meeting was used to take stock of the work so far and facilitate enhanced cooperation on pertinent files.

 

March 22, 2018

Participation in Listener's Panel for the event "Faith, Peace and Inclusive Society - SDG 16 Seminar" in Copenhagen

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, took part in the Listener's Panel for this seminar. The purpose of the seminar was, within the wider framework of Agenda 2030, to discuss (i) the link between faith, peace and inclusive society and (ii) to share insights with participants about the latest developments in Zimbabwe. This seminar and others like it are organised by the Danish Network for Religion and Development.

 

March 21, 2018

Consultations on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Bruxelles

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, travelled to Bruxelles in order to meet the European Union's Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis, at the European External Action Service. While there Ambassador Mellbin also had an opportunity to sit down with the Human Rights NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

 

 

March 21, 2018

Consultations on Freedom of Religion or Belief in France

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, travelled to Paris in order to hold consultations with government officials and other stakeholders about areas for cooperation on FoRB.

 

March 20, 2018

Consultations on Freedom of Religion or Belief with Austria's Federal Ministry for Europa, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, travelled to Vienna. Possible areas for cooperation, also during the Austrian Presidency of the EU, were discussed.

March 20, 2018

Consultations on Freedom of Religion or Belief with Germany's Auswärtiges Amt

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, travelled to Berlin to meet with German government officials. They discussed possible areas for cooperation as well as the continued effort to mobilise further EU and Member States' action on FoRB.

March 11-15, 2018

Visit to the United States of America; New York and Washington D.C.

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, travelled to the US to participate at the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations and for meetings with US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Mr. Samuel Dale Brownback, and other government officials as well as international and non-governmental partners.

March 6, 2018

Event in Geneva on inclusion, diversity and pluralism led by ARTICLE 19 and Canada

Denmark intervened at an event focused on improving inclusion in the domain of Freedom of Religion or Belief. The importance of including women's voices in questions of religion and belief was underlined along with the responsibility of states for ensuring this.

 

March 4-9, 2018

Visits to Lebanon and Indonesia

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, travelled to Lebanon and Indonesia where he met with government officials and local stakeholders.


March 2, 2018

Interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated in an interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteur Shaheed. Ambassador Mellbin thanked Mr. Shaheed for his report. Coming forward with more FoRB-related recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review is something Denmark will strive to do. Further, Denmark expressed clear interest in ways that governements can get involved and help push the agenda on Freedom of Religion or Belief.



February 22, 2018

European Parliament/EEAS/COHOM/Member State Working Session on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Brussels

Discussion on how to make the EU a more actionable foreign policy actor within Freedom of Religion or Belief, with participation of MEP Dennis de Jong, Co-chair of the Religious Freedom Intergroup Bureau of the European Parliament among others. Ambassador Lars Bo Larsen and Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated from Denmark.


February 15-16, 2018

Seminar in Geneva
on Religion and Rights: Recognising Common Ground hosted by Musawah in collaboration with OHCHR and the UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief participated and moderated one of the sessions.



February 8, 2018

Meeting with Mark von Riedemann, Director of Public Affairs and Religious Freedom, Aid to the Church in Need.



February 5, 2018

Meeting with the Ambassador of Armenia to Denmark 

On bilateral cooperation on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the status of the followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church.



February 1, 2018

Visit to Brussels for talks with Heikki Huttunen, General Secretary for the Conference of European Churches, and MEP Dennis de Jong, Co-Chair of the Religious Freedom Intergroup Bureau European Parliament, among others.



January 29, 2018
Consultations on the future of the International Partnership on Religion and Development.



January 29, 2018

Conference on the responsibility of States, Institutions and individuals  in the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic hate crimes in the OSCE area in Rome.

Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief participated.


January 12, 2018 
Promoting freedom of religion or belief: exploring the role of state and civil society.

Event with UN Special Rappoteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed at Danish Mission Council together with Danish Institute for Human Rights. Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief participated as a panelist.


January 11, 2018

International high-level meeting on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Eigtved’s Pakhus in Copenhagen.

On January 11 2018, Denmark hosted an international meeting on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Eigtved’s Pakhus in Copenhagen.

The event covered three distinct sessions: A morning session where the EU and its Member States discussed how to make the EU a more actionable foreign policy actor within Freedom of Religion or Belief. A working lunch hosted by the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Anders Samuelsen, with interventions by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on FoRB, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed and EU Special Envoy on FoRB, Mr. Jan Figel. An afternoon session with broad international participation discussed potential areas of joint action and support for the efforts of the UN Special Rapporteur.


January 10, 2018
Launch of Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List with the participation of Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation


January 10, 2018

Launch of the Contact Forum for Denmark’s efforts for Freedom of Religion or Belief at Eigtved’s Pakhus in Copenhagen.

On January 10 2018, Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation, launched the new Contact Forum for Denmark’s efforts for Freedom of Religion or Belief in connection with the Danish Government’s decision to establish a new office for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Following the launch of the contact forum. Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief presented the planned activities and afterwards invited participants to share their views and/or questions regarding the new initiative.