The G7 met in Cornwall on 11-13 June 2021. At the close of the summit a 25-page communique was issued, (curiously not currently published on the UK government website or the G7 website) which for the first time made a reference to freedom of religion or belief.
“We will work together to promote our shared values as open societies in the international system, as reflected in the Statement on Open Societies signed with the Leaders of countries from the Indo-Pacific region and Africa, who have joined us at Carbis Bay, namely, Australia, India, South Africa and the Republic of Korea. Further to this, we commit to: increase cooperation on supporting democracy, including through strengthening the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism to counter foreign threats to democracy including disinformation; strengthen media freedom and ensure the protection of journalists; support freedom of religion or belief; condemn racism in all its forms; address human rights abuses, including the failure to protect civilians in conflict; oppose the practice of arbitrary detention, including by amplifying the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations and welcoming its Partnership Action Plan; and recognise the need for action on corruption, including by sharing information on illicit financial activities, tackling the misuse of shell companies, and curtailing the ability of illicit actors to hide wealth, including in real estate.”
The Statement on Open Societies contained a very similar reference:
“…we commit to cooperate together and with partners to: Strengthen open societies globally by protecting civic space and media freedom, promoting freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and freedom of religion or belief, and by tackling all forms of discrimination, including racism;…”
As stated above, this was signed by India alongside the other signatories.
There was no specific reference to freedom of religion or belief in the sections of the communique referring to
- the response to the Covid-19 pandemic (though it did say “Ensuring fairness, inclusion and equity, including the empowerment and leadership of women and minorities in the health and care sectors”)
- reinvigorating the economy (“level up so that no place or person, irrespective of age, ethnicity or gender is left behind…” “As leaders accountable to all our citizens, we are determined to ensure our plans for recovery build back better for all including by strengthening education and upskilling, and facilitating labour market participation and transitions to ‘level up’ our economies so that no geographic region or person, irrespective of their gender, age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation or economic status, is left behind”);
- free and fair trade (“We will maintain a particular focus on ensuring that the prosperity trade can bring is felt in all parts of our countries and by all peoples across the globe, especially the poor”)
- climate change
- gender equality