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Should we give greater priority to upholding the freedom of religion and belief? Lords to debate

On Thursday 16 July, members of the House of Lords, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the former Chief Rabbi and the Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations (UK) will discuss worldwide violations of Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They will also debate the case for the UK and the wider international community giving greater priority to upholding the freedom of religion and belief.

Lord Alton of Liverpool, who tabled and will open the debate, said: 
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born out of the infamies of the twentieth century - from the Armenian genocide to the depredations of Stalin, Hitler and the Holocaust.

“In response to the persecution of millions of people, targetted because of their religion or beliefs, Article 18 insisted on the freedom of all men and women to cherish and uphold their faith or beliefs - or to change them.

“Seventy years later, from North Korea to Syria - and all over the world - Article 18 is honoured daily in its breach - evident in contemporary concentration camps, abductions, rape, imprisonment, displacement, persecution, public flogging, mass murder, and beheadings.

“The House of Lords debate will be an opportunity to build on the All-Party Report "Article 18 - an orphaned right"; to highlight countries where Article 18 is under attack today; to discuss the clear links between freedom of religion and belief, a nation's prosperity, stability, and the other rights enjoyed or denied its citizens; and to insist on greater political and diplomatic priority being given to upholding Article 18."

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

  • Lord Bach, shadow spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs;
  • Lord Avebury, President of both the Kurdish Human Rights Project and TAPOL (Indonesian Human Rights);
  • Lord Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth;
  • Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations (UK);
  • Lord Alderdice, Chairman and Director of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building;
  • Baroness Berridge, Member of the Advisory Council for the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief; and
  • Lord Carey of Clifton, Chairman of World Faiths Development Dialogue.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Sheikh, Lord McFall of Alcluith, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Palmer of Childs Hill, Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, Lord Harrison, Baroness Howells of St Davids, Lord Glasman, Lord Anderson of Swansea and the Bishop of Leicester are also expected to take part in the debate.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns will respond on behalf of the Government.

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