Brussels, 21 August 2023 (TDI): On the occasion of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief, the European Union underscores its unyielding commitment to upholding the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, the EU, through the words of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, asserts that the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion must be protected and defended for all individuals, regardless of their beliefs.

Despite the passage of decades since the adoption of the UDHR, the global landscape remains marred by incidents of violence, discrimination, and persecution rooted in religious or belief-based differences.

Tragic acts such as threats, physical assaults, killings, and prejudice continue to afflict many individuals across the globe.

The EU, on this solemn occasion, seeks to honour the memories of all victims of such violence and reiterate its call to all nations to wholeheartedly embrace and uphold Article 18 of the UDHR.

The European Union unequivocally urges that any forms of religious persecution and discrimination be combated relentlessly.

As the world rallies against these injustices, the EU emphasizes that individuals at risk must be safeguarded, while the perpetrators of such acts must face justice.

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The EU firmly repudiates the misuse of religion as a pretext for targeting individuals belonging to minority groups.

The European Union reaffirms that freedom of religion or belief, alongside freedom of expression, are intertwined and mutually reinforcing rights that must be protected universally.

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Beyond state entities, the EU recognizes the indispensable role that religious and non-confessional figures, political leaders, civil society organizations, and private enterprises play in identifying and countering incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence against individuals and groups.

The EU’s commitment extends beyond mere statements.

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Utilizing a range of tools including human rights dialogues, resolutions in multilateral arenas, collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, interfaith initiatives, and rapid support for human rights advocates, the EU is resolute in its pursuit of safeguarding freedom of religion or belief for all.