I was honoured to meet the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) and her Deputy, David Burrowes, for a detailed exchange of views, facilitated by the UK Delegation to the Council of Europe. Fiona Bruce was nominated Special Envoy for FoRB at the end of 2020 with a mandate to bring together UK efforts to promote religious tolerance abroad. Based on a cross-party parliamentary approach, and in close cooperation with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), she aims to increase UK and international engagement on “FoRB for all, whatever one’s religion or if one has no religion at all”.
We shared our concern about increasing reports of FoRB abuses of FoRB, including the persecution of Christians, across the world. Special Envoy Fiona Bruce emphasised the importance of the 33-country International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance in raising awareness of cases of particular concern. I welcomed the UK’s intention to host a major international ministerial conference on 5 and 6 July 2022 in London. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had announced the conference by stating: “There are still too many places around the world where practising one’s religion, or having no religion, can cost you your freedom or even your life. The challenges to these freedoms continue to grow in different shapes and forms around the world. So we must act...to help ensure that everyone, everywhere can follow their own religion or belief.”
I offered my support toward this important event.