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
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.