UN: EU Statement on The elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion and belief

UN 61st Session; III Committee, Introductory Statement under Agenda Item 67b the draft resolution on 'The elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion and belief'
New York,  9 November 2006

Held by Ms. Kirsti Pohjankukka, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union

Mr. Chairperson,

I have the honour, on behalf of the European Union and all the co-sponsors listed in A/C.3/61/L.25, to introduce under Agenda item 67b the draft resolution on The elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion and belief. In addition Benin, Congo, Georgia, Madagascar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Sri Lanka, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey co-sponsor this draft resolution.

Twenty five years have passed since, upon adoption of the 1981 Declaration on Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, we all proclaimed our resolve to adopt all necessary measures for the speedy elimination of such intolerance in all its forms and manifestations and to prevent and combat discrimination on the ground of religion or belief. The European Union is firmly committed to the promotion of greater tolerance, and continues to actively partake in enhancing dialogue and mutual understanding, along with other efforts to this end undertaken in various fora such as the UNESCO, Council of Europe, OSCE, the Barcelona Process, the ASEM process, and the initiative for an Alliance of Civilizations. The draft resolution before us now is an important tool for the protection of each and every one’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief wherever they are, and has been recognized as such through its adoption by consensus last year.

To highlight the continuity of our common endeavours to eliminate religious intolerance and to further pursue the approach of consensus and moderation, we have based this year’s draft on the last year’s consensus text. Like its predecessor, the draft resolution reaffirms the importance of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief in the system of international human rights and in the lives of individuals, as well as expresses concern about serious instances of intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief in various forms. The draft resolution highlights the role of both education and dialogue as constructive means to enhance knowledge and mutual understanding and thereby – bring durable solutions to the tensions that still remain in this regard. The draft resolution contains provisions dealing with the protection of freedom of religion and belief by states and encouraging the efforts of all actors in society to promote tolerance. It also expresses firm support to the work of the UN Special Rapporteur.

Mr. Chairperson,

The UN Special Rapporteur, in her addresses to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, encouraged us “to take this opportunity to raise the threshold of tolerance” and “to take positive steps to create a tolerant and inclusive environment, in which all religions can be exercised, free of discrimination or stigmatisation”. We see the draft resolution before us as an indispensable tool for this purpose. To strengthen this understanding, the EU has been actively engaged in discussions with a broad range of countries. Introducing this draft resolution, we hope that, like in the previous year, all delegations will join in consensus upon its adoption. Adoption of this draft resolution by consensus would, once again, reaffirm the international community’s common concerns, common determination, and common objectives in relation to the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion and belief.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

 1) Overall, 57 countries: Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.