Date: November 4, 2020
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new factsheet about the human rights mechanism within the United Nations (UN) system related to religious freedom:
Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief within the UN Human Rights System Factsheet - This factsheet provides an overview of the UN human rights mechanisms, with a particular focus on those most relevant to freedom of religion or belief. The factsheet describes the mandate and composition of the Human Rights Council and its subsidiaries, which include the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, the Special Procedures mandate holders, and factfinding missions. The UN treaty-based mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Committee established by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are also explained. The factsheet includes examples of engagement with these mechanisms that has advanced religious freedom. Although these bodies have limitations, they nevertheless provide opportunities for advocacy by and collaboration among states and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to promote freedom of religion or belief internationally.
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF highlighted key developments within the UN human rights system related to religious freedom conditions in countries including Burma, China, Eritrea, and Vietnam. USCIRF also recommended that the U.S. government urge Eritrea and Sudan to invite the UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of religion or belief, one of the Special Procedures mandate holders, to visit and assess religious freedom conditions.