Human Rights Council Session 42 – Statement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – General Debate Item 3

Thank you Mr. President,

Recent horrendous attacks in places of worship around the world continue an alarming trend of religious intolerance and violence against persons based on religion or belief.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is deeply concerned about this heightened religious intolerance worldwide. We assert that violence in any form against people, groups or communities, and against the right of individuals to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief is unacceptable.

The Netherlands is fully committed to the promotion of, and respect for, the right to freedom of religion or belief worldwide. This includes the right of every individual to change one’s religion and the right not to profess any religion at all.

States have an obligation to not commit violations against the right to freedom of religion or belief, as well as to fight against abuses of this human right in an inclusive manner. This involves respecting the rights of religious minorities and avoiding any discrimination in favor of, or to the detriment of, a particular religion or belief. Undue restrictions, including the repression of unregistered religious activities and blasphemy laws, should be removed.

We call on this Council to foster a climate of tolerance and inclusivity in which all people can practice and express their beliefs. For this, we believe dialogue is key. We are, therefore, proud to announce that on 18-19 November this year the Netherlands will organize and host the seventh meeting of the Istanbul Process, which is the agreed mechanism for combating religious intolerance and promoting freedom of religion and belief. It will provide an excellent forum for States, practitioners, academia, companies, and faith-based actors to enter into dialogue, exchange experiences and share best practices.

Thank you.