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Report: Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Context of Sustainable Development Goals

In March 2019 Denmark launched a one-year Expert Consultation Process on the positive synergies between Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and Gender Equality in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). The project was launched as part of the Danish membership of the UN Human Rights Council. 

The project was a cooperation between Denmark, Norway, the UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB, the UN Population Fond, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), Danish Institute for Human Rights, and the Stefanus Alliance International. 

The project involved a diverse range of experts from all over the world, secular and faith-based experts from different institutional, professional, religious and geographic backgrounds with expertise in different areas. Through a series of workshops, the experts have explored the nexus between FoRB and gender equality in relation to four SDG's, formulating recommendations and concrete suggestions for action in each of these contexts. The SDG's used for the discussion in the thematic workshops was SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being, SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 13 Climate Action, and SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Four workshops were held in the context of the Expert Consultation Process: An initial brainstorming session in Geneva in March 2019, a thematic workshop on SDGs
4 and 16 in Oslo in May 2019, a thematic workshop on SDGs 3 and 13 in Copenhagen in October 2019, and finally a session to conclude and wrap up in New York in November 2019.

The UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB, Ahmed Shaheed, relied upon research and insight gained throught the explorative process in the drafting process of the Report on Gender-based violence and discrimination in the name of religion or belief (A/HRC/43/48), which was presented to the Human Rights Council at the 43rd session.

Senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Marie Juul Petersen, has on the basis of the Expert Consultation Process composed the report "Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief and Gender Equality in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals: A Focus on Access to Justice, Education and Health". The report contains reflections on the Expert Consultation Process and can be read here.

A short extract on on the process written by Marie Juul Petersen can also be accessed here on the webpage of the Universal Rights Group (URG).