Spaces of solidarity and FoRB engagement for parliamentarians
Collaborating for the first time in the Global South, IPPFoRB along with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) brings you the third International Parliamentarians Global Conference on freedom of religion or belief in Singapore this year!
In their 2018 report, the Pew Research Centre stated that ‘more than a quarter of countries (28%) around the world had “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions on religion in 2016, an increase from 25% [from] the year before’.
This worrying trend of widespread restrictions, persecution and violations against individuals and communities has not changed in the last few years and it is time the global community of parliamentarians and legislators come together to take notice and action.
Taking place against declining levels of protection for freedom of religion or belief in many parts of the world, from 30th to 31st October 2019, IPPFoRB and KAS will organize the International Parliamentarians’ Global Conference on “Upholding a Rules Based System on Freedom of Religion or Belief” for parliamentarians, legislators and like-minded individuals around the world.
In the preliminary meetings that were recently held in Singapore, Liv Kvanvig, Coordinator, IPPFoRB Secretariat noted, ‘this is the third time IPPFoRB and KAS have come together as partners in the last five years but it’s the first time that we have taken our partnership to the Global South.’
To this, Gisela Elsner, Director, Rule of Law Program in Asia for KAS, added, ‘the geography, social and cultural sensitives are all different and therefore this event provides us an opportunity to constantly reinvent our partnership.’
For parliamentarians, by parliamentarians
With the presence of several renowned experts, academics and diplomats, the Conference aims to equip parliamentarians and legislators with practical skills and tools to respond to the threats posed to the freedom of religion or belief, which has the potential to impair the social stability of nations.
‘We, as parliamentarians, have an increased role in influencing world affairs. Now, more than ever, parliamentarians from around the world need to come together, engage and learn from each other. This Conference will offer such opportunities and more to parliamentarians’, added David Anderson, MP Canada and Chair, IPPFoRB Steering Committee.
Aiming to provide more than just information about freedom of religion or belief, IPPFoRB and KAS intend to make this Conference a platform where parliamentarians and legislators will not only be shown the practicalities of using their political influence and thought-leadership skills to combat global religious persecution and violations but will also get opportunities to discuss freedom of religion or belief issues in a regional context.
Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP South Africa and Chair, African Parliamentarians Association for Human Rights (AfriPAHR) Steering Committee noted, ‘region-based leadership is the way forward since parliamentarians from the same region share a common social and cultural understanding and can use that to advocate for better legislation, multi-stakeholder dialogues and more’.
Dr. Otmar Oehring, Coordinator of International Religious Dialogue, KAS added, ‘the key takeaway of this conference should be that parliamentarians are empowered to go back home and do more to make the world a safer place for everyone, everywhere.’
Both IPPFoRB and KAS believe Singapore to be a unique choice of destination for this Conference. Apart from it being an easy destination for travel, Singapore is a country with a rich heritage of cultural and religious diversity.
Aishwarya Natarajan, Research Associate for Rule of Law Program in Asia for KAS, noted, ‘holding the event in Singapore allows the parliamentarians to learn a bit more about Singapore and its experience with promoting racial and religious harmony.’