Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Privacy and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Statement by the United States of America as delivered by Michele Roulbet
31st Session of the Human Rights Council
March 9, 2016
Thank you, Mr. President.
At the conclusion of his tenure in this important mandate, the United States wants to take this opportunity to thank Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt for his exemplary work over the last six years. Our appreciation extends to his most recent report on two closely interrelated rights: freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. We agree with the Special Rapporteur that these rights mutually reinforce each other, facilitating free and democratic societies.
We strongly agree that, as reflected in resolution 16/18, communication is key to building trust between religious or belief communities. Resolution 16/18 and the report both reinforce the fact that “…the open public debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national and international levels can be among the best protection against religious intolerance.”
We would also highlight other conclusions in the report that we share. These include that some governments, in efforts to combat religious intolerance, are too quick to restrict speech. Instead they should use other measures called for by resolution 16/18, such as education and interreligious communication. We also emphasize that seeking to quell open expression generally has only inflammatory effects.
We strongly support the report’s encouragement of continued cooperation through the Istanbul Process to step up implementation of resolution 16/18. We also agree that states should consider reporting on their implementation of 16/18 in the Universal Periodic Review.
Question: What are some best practices with respect to implementation of resolution 16/18?