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News and activities

At this page, you can find information on selected activities and news of the Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Visit the Danish site for additional news

December 5 2019

The Minister for Development Cooperation launches new FoRB-project in Indonesia

The Minister for Development Cooperation, Rasmus Prehn, launched a brand new project on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Indonesia. The project is implemented by Danish Mission Council and Communion of Churches in Indonesia (CCI). The project aims to strengthen civil societies’ advocacy for FoRB, and provide legal aid for victims of FoRB-violations.

 

October 15 2019

EU FoRB Conference in Brussels

The Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr, participated in the stock-taking event for the EU’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief Jan Figel. Jan Figel presented five action-oriented recommendations to scale up EU’s engagement for promoting FoRB globally.

       

October 8 2019

Contact Forum for FoRB in the Danish Parliament

On October 8 2019, the Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief hosted the fourth meeting in the Danish Contact Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief. The meeting brought together more than 120 experts and Danish actors from various faith-based and secular civil society organizations, academia, religious institutions, and others interested in promotion of freedom of religion or belief globally. The focus of the fourth meeting was the intersection between FoRB and Gender Equality, Climate Change, Health, as well as conflict Prevention. Furthermore, on the program was the trends in the UN in relation to FoRB and the future work of parliamentarians promoting FoRB. The Minister for Development Cooperation, Rasmus Prehn, presented the new government’s adjustments to the Danish FoRB-initiative. The Minister for Development Cooperation established that the five tracks of the strategy is maintained with a few adjustments. Read more on the adjustments of the strategy here and read the Minister for Development Cooperation’s speech here.

    

The Forum for FoRB meets approximately twice a year. Press here to read more about Forum for FoRB and upcoming meetings as well as the program of the last meeting here.

       

October 7 2019

FoRB-SDG-Gender equality expert seminar

The Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr, participated in the Copenhagen Workshop in the Expert Consultation Process on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals. The workshop is a part of the expert project on positive synergies between FoRB and Gender Equality established by Denmark, Norway, and the UN.

Read more on the expert project here.

     

October 4 2019

Meeting with Danmission

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with the new Secretary-General for Danmission, Kristian Sloth Petersen.

        

October 4 2019

Meeting with delegation from Vietnam

The Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr, met with representatives from the Vietnamese Ministry of Home Affairs to discuss how to enhance the promotion of FoRB domestically and globally.

       

October 3 2019

The 3rd Indonesian-Denmark Interfaith & Intermedia Dialogue

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief attended the third Indonesian-Denmark Interfaith & Intermedia Dialogue in Asia House arranged by the Indonesian Embassy to Denmark. The Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr, participated in the panel to discuss how to understand cultural diversity and religious freedom as well as the role and responsibility of religious leaders and society in building peaceful and inclusive societies.

        

October 3 2019

Meeting with Prof. Syafiq A. Mughni

The Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr, met with the Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Indonesia for Interfaith and Inter-Civilization Dialogue and Cooperation, Prof. Syafiq A. Mughni, to elaborate on the Indonesian Special Envoy’s work and the Danish strategy for FoRB. Mr. Mughni visited Denmark as a part of the third inter-religious dialogue delegation arranged by the Indonesian Embassy to Denmark.

        

September 25 2019

Meeting with Bishop Czeslaw Kozon and Caritas

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Copenhagen, Czeslaw Kozon, and Caritas General Secretary Maria Krabbe Hammershøy.

        

September 25 2019

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with Danmission to hear about their work engaging with religious leaders and youth to promote conflict resolution, community resilience and peaceful co-existence in Northern Myanmar.

          

September 19 2019

Meeting with SAT-7

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with CEO Rita Elmounayer and Executive Director Kurt Johansen from the Christian satellite television network SAT-7. SAT-7broadcasts satellite television in Arabic, Persian and Turkish to 21 million viewers in more than 25 countries in the MENA-region.

            

September 18 2019

Meeting with Mission Africa

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with General Secretary, Henrik Engelbrekt Refshauge, from Mission Africa to discuss their work on conflict prevention, mediation and reconciliation in Western Africa.

         

September 15-17 2019

Sant’Egidio Annual Interreligious gathering

The Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr, participated in the annual interreligious gathering by the Community of Sant’Egidio. Sant’Egidio is a catholic association dedicated to social service. This year’s theme for the annual gathering was “Peace with no Borders” and took place in Madrid.

             

September 12 2019

Meeting with the Polish Ambassador to Denmark, Mrs. Henryka Dendys Mościcka

The Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr, met with the Polish Ambassador to Denmark, Mrs. Henryka Dendys Mościcka.

            

September 11 2019

Meeting with representatives from Jehovah’s Witnesses Scandinavia

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with representatives from the Scandinavian Branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to discuss the current FoRB-situation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea.

             

September 9 2019

Meeting with Jørgen Thomsen from PaRD Steering Group

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with Jørgen Thomsen from DanChurchAid who is a member of the Steering Group of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) to discuss FoRB, religion and development. PaRD is a partnership network bringing together governmental and intergovernmental entities with civil society organisations to discuss and use the positive impact of religion and values in the sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. The Danish MFA supports the work of PaRD and its 105 current members.

       

September 2-9 2019

FoRB-delegation to Indonesia

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief visited Indonesia together with the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Danish Mission Council Development Department (DMCDD) to learn about the conditions for FoRB in Indonesia. The delegation met with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, as well as President Jokowi’s Advisor on International religious Issues, Dr. Hj. Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, and the Special Advisor to the Indonesian President & Ambassador Pak Diar Nurbintoro. The delegation met with representatives from several embassies to get insights and lessons learned from their FoRB projects in Indonesia, and the national Human Rights Institute in Indonesia, Komnas HAM, to learn about their new priorities, which includes work on FoRB. The delegation also met with representatives from Indonesian civil society, including civil society organizations, think tanks on FoRB, human rights figures, and minority religious groups, to learn more about their work on promoting FoRB and religious tolerance in Indonesia.

        

The delegation met with the following religious groups or organizations: Sunda Wiwitan, Ahmadiyah, Baha’I, Yayasan Buddha Tzu Chi, Jewish Community, Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, National Committee LWF Indonesia, Communion of Churches Indonesia, Shia Boarding School “Rausyan Fikr.

         

The delegation also met with the following human rights figures, civil society organizations and think tanks: Gusdurian Network, Habibie center, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Setara Institute, Standford University, LeIP, the Asia Foundation, ANBTI, Institute for Interfaith Dialogue in Indonesia, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies, AMAN, Perempuan AMAN, SEJUK, ELSAM, SFCG, INFID, Legal Aid Foundation.

             

August 22 2019

74th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief joined the celebration of the 74th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia hosted by the Indonesian Embassy in Denmark.

 

                               

August 22 2019

UN International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

The Office of and the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief spoke about the results from the Ministerial in Washington D.C.  in promoting FoRB  at an event to mark the new UN International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. The event was organised by the Danish Network of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Humanistic Society, The Council on International Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, and Danish Mission Council Development Department. One of the speakers was Helen Berhane from Eritrea who was imprisoned for 32 months - main part in a shipping container - in Eritrea because of her religion, and was granted asylum in Denmark.

             

July 19 2019

Meeting in the international network ICG-FoRB

The Office of and the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief Ambassador Michael Suhr participated in the meeting of the International Contact Group on FoRB (ICG-FoRB) in Washington D.C. The group is an informal network lead by the US and Canada and now consists of 28 different countries among these Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, UK, US.

         

July 16-18 2019

Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

The Office of and the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr participated in the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in Washington D.C. The ministerial was the biggest human rights conference ever hosted by the US State Department. 106 countries participated in the ministerial as well as more than 1000 NGO’s and representatives from religious communities.

          

July 9-11 2019

FoRB-delegation to Lebanon

The Office of and the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ambassador Michael Suhr visited Lebanon to launch a new project financed by Danish MFA FoRB in cooperation with Danmission and Adyan Foundation called “Women and Religion and Human Rights in Lebanon” and conduct a dialogue with the Government of Lebanon as well as various NGOs. The aim of the new project is to enhance women’s rights in the main religious confessional laws as well as promote interreligious dialogue of such improvements in Lebanon. The project agreement was signed at the Danmission office in Beirut on July 9 2019. See Tweets by The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief here.

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief also participated in a roundtable on interreligious dialogue, met with various religious representatives, the Middle East Council for Churches and visited Bird’s Nest Orphanage to learn of their work and history. The Danish missionary, Maria Jacobsen, took the initiative and leadership in providing shelter to 100s of Armenian children in 1919 who was victims of the persecution of Armenians by the Turks from 1915 to 1918. See link to the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ “Aram Bezikian” Museum here.

           

June 26 2019

Interfaith dialogue meeting with Dr. Dino Patti Djalal

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, held a meeting with Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, previously Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, on interfaith dialogue meetings and experiences hereof in relation to Dr. Dino Patti Djalal’s interfaith dialogue project “1000 Abrahamic Circles”.

 

 

June 18 2019

Meeting with David Fieldsend

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief met with Mr. David Fieldsend to deliberate on the victimization of Christians and protection of Religion or Belief minorities globally. Mr. Fieldsend is a part of the expert group conducting an independent review into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians worldwide led by the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen. The interim report was published on Easter 2019. The final review will be presented at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington D.C. on July 16-18.

 

 

June 3 2019

Meeting with Bishop Thomas

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with Bishop Thomas who is the Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of al-Qūsīyah and Mīr in Assīū in Egypt.

 

 

May 20-23 2019

TPNRD meeting in Bern, Germany

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated as observer in the Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion & Diplomacy (TPNRD) biannual meeting in Bern, Germany, where experiences and knowledge of trends in religion, religious literacy, and training were shared informally.

 

 

May 14 2019

Bilateral visit to Finland

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with Ambassador for conflict mediation and religious dialogue, Mr. Pekka Metso, the Ambassador for Human Rights and Democracy, Mr. Rauno Merisaari, and Deputy Director of the Unit on Human Rights, Ms. Janina Hasenson, to elaborate on the use of religion as an entry point to peace facilitation.

 

 

May 10 2019

Meeting with French political scientist Olivier Roy

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met with expert on religion Mr. Olivier Roy at Embassy of France in Denmark. Olivier Roy is professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, where he holds the Chair in Mediterranean Studies.

 

 

May 3 2019

PaRD General Assembly

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated as a panelist in the panel on “Shrinking Civil Society Space and the role of religious actors” at the General Assembly of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) in Copenhagen.

The ambassador had bilateral meetings with Secretary-General of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Interculturel Dialogue, Mr. Faisal A. Bin Muaamaar, to converse on interreligious cooperation, and with various NGOs and the German Ambassador for Global Religious Affairs, Mr. Berresheim.

 

 

March 22 2019

Meeting with representative from Danish Europe Mission

 

 

March 19-22 2019

Bilateral visit to Jakarta, Indonesia

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, visited Jakarta from the 19-22 of March. Ambassador Suhr and held meetings with the Minister for Religion and the Deputy Foreign Minister as well as representatives from the civil service:

State representatives: Minister for Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin; Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir; Head of Department Ministry of Justice, Mualimin Abdi; Director for Public Diplomacy Ministery, Azis Nurwahyudi; President’s Advisor for International Religious Affairs, Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin (Muhammadiyah).

Indonesian civil society organisations and international organisations: Chairman of Komnas Ham, Ahmad Taufan Damanik; Country Representative of The Asia Foundation, Sandra Hamid; Founder af GusDurian Network, Alissa Wahid; Country representative for Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harsono; Head of Center for the Study of Religion and Democracy (PUSAD), Ihsan Ali-Fauzi; Advisor at Human Rights Working Group, Rafendi Jamin.

Think tanks: Dino Patti Djalal, founder of Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI); Director of Setara Institute, Bonar Tigor Naipospos; Researcher at Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Noory Okhta; Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, I Ketut Putra Erawan; Researcher at Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Nava Nuraniyah.

Religious representatives: Franz Magnis Suseno, founder of Driyakarya School of Philosophy og catholic priest; Head of Operations of Istiqlal Mosque, First Admiral, Asep Saepudin; Vice-Archbishop, Samuel Pangestu; Secretary General for Nahdlatul Ulama, Yahya Cholil Staquf; Deputy Secretary General of  Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), Krise Gosal; Lutheran priest and chairman of Lutheran Church HKBP Menteng, Tulus Opussunggu.

Women’s rights organisations: Deputy chairman of the women’s rights committee Komnas Perempuan, Yuniyanti Chuzaifan and commissioner Khariroh Ali; Country manager for UN Women, Sabine Machl; Coordinator of Indonesian Women Coalition, Farida Indriani; Deputy chairman of The Female Household Heads Empowerment Programme (PEKKA), Fitria Villa Sahara.

The international community: Ambassadors and representatives from US, UK, EU, Netherlands, Norway, UN and Germany.

LGBT+ organisations: Lies Marcoes, Rumah KitaB; Anastasia N. Petronela, Arus Pelangi; Yulianus Rettoblaut, Transgender Communication Forum Indonesia.

Media organisations: Director of the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ), Endy Bayuni; Director for the Journalist Association for Diversity (SEJUK), Ahmad Junaidi og founder of SEJUK, Saidiman Ahmad; Chief of Asia Department in International Media Support (IMS), Ranga Kalansooriya og local employee in IMS Indonesia, R. Kristiawan.

      

March 18, 2019

Regional Seminar and Workshop for Journalists “The Nexus between Freedom of Religion or Belief and Freedom of Expression in Southeast Asia”, Bali

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated as keynote speaker in a regional seminar on the nexus between Freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression in Southeast Asia.

 

 

March 15, 2019

Chief advisor for FoRB met with the Secretary General of Open Doors Denmark, René Ottesen

 

 

March 8, 2019

First discussion held in the new established Expert group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, gender Equality and the Sustainable Development goals

On March 8, the one-year expert consultation process on freedom of religion or belief, gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals began in Geneva, when the expert group met for their first 1-day discussion. The expert group reported, that they had an stimulating day filled with creative ideas, clear added value and an action oriented focus and concluded that these first discussion has created a solid framework for the upcoming expert seminars in September and June this year.

 

 

March 7, 2019

Launch of the Expert Consultation on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Gender Equality and the SDG’s

Denmark, together with Norway, launched an expert consultation process on Freedom of Religion of Religion or Belief, Gender Equality and the SDG’s at a side-event during the UN Human Rights Council 40th session. The process will convene and mobilise a diverse constituency of actors in support of freedom of religion or belief and gender equality, including both faith-based and secular perspectives, with the purpose to identify areas of common ground and encourage common action.

 

 

March 6, 2019

Meeting of the international Contact Group for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated in the international Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, Geneva. Read more about the meeting here.

 

 

March 5, 2019                

Interactive dialogue with UN special rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, delivered a statement during the interactive dialogue with UN special rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief at the UN Human Rights Council 40th session. You can read the statement here.

 

 

 

February 28- March 1, 2019

Bilateral meetings with respectively the Egyptian, Iranian and Indonesian Ambassador to Denmark 

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, held bilateral meetings with respectively the Egyptian, Iranian and Indonesian Ambassador to Denmark

 

 

February 28, 2019

Meeting with International Media Service

 

 

February 7, 2019

Third meeting of the Danish Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief

The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, hosted the third meeting of the Danish Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief. The Forum, which aims to gather Danish stakeholders on Freedom of Religion or Belief, is open to all. The Minister provided an update on the Parliamentary debate on the status of the Danish FoRB-initiative 

 

 

February 6, 2019

Parliamentary debate on the status of the Danish FoRB-initiative 

Based on a written Report to Parliament by Government on the status and perspectives for the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief and protection of religious minorities Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs held a parliamentary debate on the status of the Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Danish Parliament.

 

 

January 31, 2019

Meeting with Danish Atheist Society

 

 

January 25, 2019

Panel debate on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Africa

Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs participated as opening speaker at a Panel debate on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Africa, organised by Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA), Danmission, Mission Africa, Danish Mission Council’s Development Department and Danish Mission Council.

January 24, 2019

Meeting with Danish Humanist Society

 

 

January 16, 2019

Meeting with Open Doors Denmark

 

 

December 6, 2018

Seminar: Freedom of Religion or Belief in a shrinking space for civil society

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated as opening speaker at Globalt Fokus’ seminar on “The right to Freedom of Religion or Belief in a shrinking space for civil society: Challenges and strategies”.

 

 

December 5, 2018

Seminar: Freedom of Religion or Belief in the MENA-region

The Office of the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief participated in a seminar on Freedom of Religion or Belief in the MENA-region arranged by Danmission

 

 

November 26-29, 2018

Indonesian interfaith delegation visiting Denmark

During the 26-29 November, an Indonesian interfaith delegation visited Denmark as part of strengthening bilateral cooperation in freedom of religion or belief. The delegation met with Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen and the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief to discuss, among other issues, Freedom of Religion or Belief and religious extremism.

 

 

November 8, 2018

Meeting with State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and for Humanitarian Assistance, Azbej Tristan

 

 

November 5-8, 2018

Conference on interfaith dialogue, Amman, Jordan

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated in the Danish-Arab Interfaith Dialogue’s international conference “Muslim-Christian Dialogue towards a Better Understanding” in Amman, Jordan. This dialogue is financed by the DAPP programme which has a geographical focus on the MENA-region. The dialogue-conference involved 46 participants from nine different religious groups: Protestant, Catholic, Maronite, Orthodox, Yezidi, Sunni, Shia, Druze, and Alevite.

 

 

October 31, 2018

Meeting with ADRA

 

 

October 22-26, 2018

Seventy-third session of the Third Committee of the General Assembly, UN New York

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, visited New York in connection with the seventy-third session of the Third Committee of the General Assembly, where he on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries delivered a statement on the interplay between freedom of religion or belief and gender equality. During his visit, Ambassador Michael Suhr, participated in the International Contact Group ICG-FoRB, and had bilateral meetings with World Jewish Congress, the Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmeed Shaheed and representatives, Head of Freedom of Religion or Belief, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Margaret Galy and Special representatives for Freedom of Religion or Belief and Minority Rights, Aud Marit Wiig

 

 

October 11, 2018

Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the rescue of the Danish Jews

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, took part in the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the rescue of the Danish Jews at Gilleleje Kirke.

 

 

October 9, 2018

Symposium on Human Dignity and Freedom of Religion or Belief

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated in the 25th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium on “Human Dignity and Freedom of Religion or Belief: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70” held at Brigham Young University.

 

 

September 24, 2018

Meeting with Dansk Europa Mission

 

 

September 4, 2018

European Parliament intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance

Ambassador Michael Suhr, Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, participated in the launch of the European Parliament intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance Annual Report

 

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.