Defending Freedom of Religion and Belief as a Matter of Principle
Vienna & Warsaw, 11.10.2016 (FOREF) – Ever since 2003, FOREF Europe has regularly represented civil society at the OSCE ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw. In this report we share points made by the introductory speakers at the working session on freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) at the HDIM (1), and discuss our intervention on Hungary’s controversial church law (2), the phenomena of government sponsored NGOs such as FECRIS (3), and the need of defending fundamental freedoms including FoRB as a matter of principle (4).
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest regional security organization. With 57 participating states in North America, Europe and Asia some refer to the OSCE as “the little UN”.
The beginning of the OSCE traces back to the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and the subsequent series of conferences known as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). The latter served as an important multilateral forum for dialogue between East and West during the Cold War and responded to new challenges arising in the post-Cold War period with the break-up of former Yugoslavia and the subsequent conflicts. Evolving beyond its original role the CSCE was renamed as the OSCE in 1994.
The OSCE serves as a forum for political dialogue that addresses security issues through (i) the politico-military, (ii) the economic and environmental, and (iii) the human dimensions, on the basis of political commitments among the participating States. The “human dimension” encompasses the advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms, support for holding transparent and democratic elections, ensuring the rule of law and the protection of national minorities and the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination.