Middle East

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 8th September 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell DUP, East Londonderry

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UN is taking to highlight the ongoing persecution of Christian communities in the Middle East and assist those so persecuted.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The UK has been at the forefront of international activity calling for the right to freedom of religion or belief to be protected, including through the UN, seeking to ensure that all tools at the UN’s disposal (in particular, the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief) are brought to bear.

In Iraq, the Government believes the international community must condemn, in the strongest possible way, abuses and crimes committed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups. During the UK’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council in August, the Council condemned the systematic persecution of individuals from minority populations, including Christians, and those who refuse the extremist ideology of ISIL and associated armed groups. The Council also recalled that widespread or systematic attacks directed against any civilian populations because of their ethnic background, religion or belief may constitute a crime against humanity, for which those responsible must be held accountable.

As a member of the Human Rights Council, the UK has given strong support to mandates (such as the Commission of Inquiry on Syria—sustained by a resolution on which the UK is chief sponsor) that monitor and report on the plight of people who have suffered violations or abuses because of their religious identity. Twice every year the EU sponsors a resolution at the UN on Freedom of Religion or Belief. This provides an opportunity to highlight specific developments. During a special session of the UNHRC on 1 September 2014, the UK requested a UN investigation into ISIL abuses, which would include those directed at Christians, as well as Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities.

Through a UK co-sponsored resolution the UN is calling on Iraq to protect members of religious and ethnic minorities, women and children, and members of groups in vulnerable situations, and to provide support to them. Barbaric acts by ISIL such as targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery and sexual abuse carried out on the basis of ethnic, religious or sectarian discrimination will be confronted at the forthcoming UN General Assembly and UN Security Council meetings.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes1 person thinks so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.