International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief
Poland initiates the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. “The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which is commonly referred to as the right to freedom of religion or belief, is a universal right of every human being and the cornerstone of many other rights,” Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said at the UN General Assembly session in New York.
Yesterday, the Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 22 August as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. During his keynote speech, the Polish foreign policy chief spoke about growing intolerance and an unprecedented increase in the number of acts of violence against people belonging to religious minorities. He pointed to the difficult situation of the victims of religious persecutions, who are often left without help and support.
Minister Czaputowicz said that apart from its commemorative value, the resolution establishing the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief also aims at raising the international community’s awareness of the situation of victims of religious persecutions. It also aims at prompting us to reflect and to take more actions to ensure full respect for the rights of religious minorities. Another goal of the resolution is to promote the values of religious tolerance and respect for diversity. “We hope that the resolution helps fight hate crime and violence on the grounds of religion or worldview, fostering dialogue between religions,” added the Polish top diplomat.
Work on the resolution establishing the International Day started at the end of 2018 on Poland’s initiative. The text was co-drafted by an interregional group of states bringing together Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Canada, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the US. Ultimately, the text was co-sponsored by 88 UN member states representing all geographical groups and various religions and cultures, who fully supported the text’s content and the issuing commitments.
The establishment of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief is a big success of Polish diplomacy. It fits in the implementation of one of the priorities of Polish foreign policy, which is the promotion of the right to freedom of religion or belief at international forums. Thanks to our initiative and commitment, the Assembly succeeded in achieving unanimous support for the document which raises a politically sensitive issue of paramount importance for the international community. It is the first resolution in many years that is tabled by Poland at the UN General Assembly, the largest organ of the Organization, grouping all members states.
The International Day will offer a joint platform for all member states, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector to get involved in commemorations of the victims and support for the survivors. We hope that annual celebrations of the International Day will help raise awareness of the need to respect religious diversity. “Let us show our joint commitment to ensuring freedom of religion and belief,” summed up Minister Czaputowicz, assuring that Poland will cooperate closely with the international community in its efforts to preserve freedom of religion and protect people who are persecuted on the grounds of religion or belief.