UK Advocates for Religious Freedom for Sustainable Peace at UN

Thank you, President, and thank you Special Adviser Nderitu, for your briefing.

Colleagues, we were very pleased to co-pen this landmark resolution with the UAE when they were on the Security Council, and we are also pleased that the Arab League welcomed the resolution.

I'll make three points.

First, on the basis of the resolution. Resolution 2686 is underpinned by human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and the promotion of gender equality. These rights are interdependent, mutually reinforcing and all play a role in promoting peace and security. As a Council, it's important that we acknowledge that respect for human rights is vital to our work in preventing and addressing conflict.

Second, on the relevance of this resolution. In conflict situations, as we've seen, religious minorities too often face persecution and intolerance, as experienced by the Yazidis in Iraq and the Baha'i in Yemen. Religious intolerance and persecution fuels instability, impacting both conflict prevention and resolution. However, when freedom of religion or belief is respected, and interreligious dialogue is promoted, we can build trust and understanding between communities, helping to secure sustainable peace.

For example, the UK's Strengthening Peace and Resilience in Nigeria programme aims to increase the safety of 1.5 million citizens by supporting national efforts to tackle the root causes of intercommunal conflict in a manner that promotes tolerance and is sensitive to the religious identities of local communities.

Third, on the role of women. President, we know that women's participation is crucial to sustainable peace, yet women face continued threats and violence. The Secretary-General's latest report on Women, Peace and Security stated that, between May 2021 and April 2022, 172 women human rights defenders were subjected to reprisals for engaging with the UN. This is unacceptable. I welcome the Special Adviser's reference to women, and we must all follow-up on resolution 2686's call on Member States to promote women's 'safe' participation. Acknowledging risk of reprisals is a major barrier to women's engagement in political life.

In conclusion, President, we are committed to defending freedom of religion and belief alongside freedom of expression and gender equality. To overcome the forces of division we face today, that lead to the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict, the international community must implement the ideals of this resolution, helping to promote and uphold all human rights.

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