Canada - Foreign Affairs Canada Adoption of IHRA

Freedom of Religion or Belief

Freedom of religion or belief, including the ability to worship in peace and security, is a universal human right. It is enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among other key human rights documents. Discrimination against religious and belief communities, as with all forms of discrimination, causes suffering, spreads division, and contributes to a climate of fear, intolerance, and stigmatization.

The promotion and protection of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, is an important part of Canada’s constructive engagement in the world. Canada’s multi-cultural and multi-faith experience is reflective of Canadian efforts to champion inclusive and accountable governance, pluralism, and respect for diversity in all spheres of society. Efforts to advance freedom of religion or belief internationally focus primarily on:
1. advocating on behalf of persecuted religious and belief communities under threat;
2. opposing religious hatred, discrimination and xenophobia; and
3. supporting dialogue among different religious groups where religious issues are principal factors of tension between communities

Recognizing the universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated nature of human rights, Global Affairs Canada continuously looks to broaden its approach to advancing freedom of religion or belief and engage with non-traditional partners. For example, freedom of religion or belief is often referred to as a “gateway” to other freedoms, including freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association, then freedom of religion or belief in its true meaning must be seen as empowering women to decide for themselves what they believe and how they wish to live.

Canada has made the promotion of pluralism and inclusion, and the recognition of and respect for diversity a priority, both at home and abroad, and works with partners to enhance the international promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief.