Raising awareness and profile of international freedom of religion or belief as a human right among parliamentarians, government, media and the general public

 

All-Party Parliamentary Groups

APPGs are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, though many involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief exists to raise awareness and profile of international freedom of religion or belief as a human right among Parliamentarians, media, government and the general public in the UK, and to increase the effectiveness of the UK’s contribution to international institutions charged with enforcing this human right.

This is not an official website of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in these webpages are those of the group. The content of this website is the sole responsibility of the Officers of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief.

View the Group’s entry in the Register of All-Party Groups as at 8 November 2017

View the current members; members of the APPG at 2 May 2017; members of the APPG at 30 March 2015

The APPG held its 2017 AGM on 18 July 2017 Minutes

The APPG held its 2016 AGM on 24 May 2016 Minutes

View other meetings of the APPG 

View the APPG’s Income and Expenditure Statement 2015-16 – the break-down of the income (monetary donations) is available upon request. The APPG pays the London Living Wage to its staff.

What is an all-party group?

An All-Party Parliamentary Group is made up of Parliamentarians (MPs and Members of the House of Lords) who share a particular interest in a subject and wish to co-ordinate their work around this issue. They are informal, cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament and are not accorded any powers or funding by it; they should not be confused with select committees, which are formal institutions of the House.

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In 2012 a Speakers’ Working Group noted that these groups “are an effective way for Members of both Houses to inform themselves about specific subjects, to respond to outside concerns, and to have direct contact with external audiences”.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has clearly stated that the defence of freedom of religion or belief worldwide is a priority for its work. Thus the issue of international freedom of religion or belief is very firmly on the Parliamentary agenda, and Parliamentarians have significant opportunities to support and advance this right.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Freedom of Religion or Belief was established in July 2012 with the following purpose:

“To raise awareness and profile of international freedom of religion or belief as a human right amongst parliamentarians, media, government and the general public in the UK; and to increase effectiveness and awareness of the UK’s contribution to international institutions charged with enforcing this human right.”


WHAT OUR MEMBERS ARE SAYING

“The issue has for too long been viewed as global identity politics. Christians seemingly speak up only when Christians are persecuted, Sikhs for Sikhs, and Baha’is for Baha’is, and this has contributed to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not being treated as a universal human right… All the studies point to a simple fact: the persecution of people of faith or no faith on the basis of their belief is rapidly increasing.”

Baroness Berridge House of Lords, November 2013

“There is an ever-pressing need for systematic and proactive actions and policies to move FoRB from rhetoric to reality. The scope of FoRB violations is extensive. According to the Pew Research Centre, nearly 80% of the world’s population lived in countries with high or very high levels of restrictions and/or hostilities towards certain beliefs. The violations are truly global.”

Jim Shannon MP House of Commons, November 2017

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and that right includes the freedom to change one’s religion or belief and the freedom, either alone or in community with others, in public and in private, to manifest one’s religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. This most profound of rights allows the individual not only to hold to a faith, but to subscribe to their own views of a faith or a different theological school within a faith and also to hold non-religious beliefs. Indeed, it protects the individual from being compelled to state an affiliation with any particular religion or belief.”

Martin Whitfield MP, House of Commons, November 2017

WHAT THE MEDIA ARE SAYING

Cry Freedom

Erasmus blog for The Economist September 2014

“An increasingly vocal body of British legislators (numbering 45 and rising), from both Houses of Parliament, say they have a better idea: instead of rooting for particular religions, the stated aim of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom is to campaign for liberty of conscience in general, stressing the need protect all belief systems including atheism. Or to put it another way, they want the government to give greater priority to affirming Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which virtually all countries in the world have notionally signed up.”

Freedom of religion or belief must be protected, say MPs and peers

Church Times 27 October 2017

ATTACKS on the freedom of religion are on the rise around the world, and protecting that freedom must become a priority of both the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development (DfID), a new report by The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief argues.


 

“An estimated 76 per cent of the world’s population live in countries with high levels of government restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, or where they face high-level hostility due to their religious affiliations, and this figure is rising. That’s why I initiated this APPG – it’s time to act, and for Parliamentarians to take a lead.”
Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose

“I have spoken on it many times, but it continues to be an issue… I feel extremely passionate about representing those… who are persecuted for their beliefs.”
Jim Shannon MP

“From the Mediterranean to the Yellow Sea, freedoms that we take for granted are under threat: freedom of religion and belief, freedom to love, and freedom of speech. Those freedoms require not our tacit acceptance but shoring up.”
Gavin Shuker MP

“Manipulation of religious sentiment to persecute those of other faiths is a sad feature of human rights abuse in much of the world.”
Lord Singh of Wimbledon

“Economic development entails a series of linked freedoms, including not only freedom of opportunity and economic freedom but political freedom and, by extension, religious freedom and freedom of thought.”
Jeremy Lefroy MP



HOW YOU CAN USE YOUR
FREEDOM TO HELP OTHERS


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