Remarks for the 2nd Annual International Religious Freedom Summit
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at the 2nd Annual International Religious Freedom Summit.
Like all of you at this gathering, the United States has a deep and abiding commitment to protecting and promoting religious freedom for everyone, everywhere.
Freedom of religion is a human right.
It is a vital part of our identity: to follow whatever belief system we adopt, or choose not to follow any belief system at all; practicing our faith in public or in private; with our loved ones, our communities or by ourselves.
Supporting religious freedom is a core American value.
We know the world is safer and more stable when people have the opportunity to freely practice their faith and contribute fully to the success of their community.
Since the last time I had the opportunity to address this summit, the United States, led by the Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom, has continued to advance religious freedom in the world.
In January, Rashad Hussain was sworn in as Ambassador for International Religious Freedom.
He and his team have helped advance our foreign policy priorities, including engaging with foreign governments to coordinate our efforts to protect the rights of all individuals, including religious minorities; and partnering with civil society, advocates and faith leaders of all faiths, to advance cooperation, mutual respect and the meaningful and equal inclusion of all.
In March, I determined that the Myanmar military had committed genocide and crimes against humanity in 2016 and 2017 with intent to destroy the predominantly Muslim Rohingya, in addition to decades of atrocities against others. minority ethnic and religious groups.
And just weeks ago, the State Department released the 2021 International Religious Freedom Report, which offers an in-depth, fact-based examination of the state of religious freedom in nearly 200 countries and territories across the world. world.
He noted how we are seeing a rise in hatred in many places – including anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks on Christians, religious minorities and people who choose not to believe.
This makes this work even more important.
And the Department of State will continue to defend religious freedom around the world — and to speak out against threats, attacks, discrimination, and other abuses when they occur.
We cannot do this work without our civil society partners.
They raise the voice of those who suffer from persecution.
They open our eyes to the atrocities and abuses on the ground.
And they offer support – shelter, a haven to openly practice their faith or a platform to speak out – to those who are hurting.
I would like to thank our partners in more than 35 governments and multilateral organizations, who have helped monitor and collectively respond to religious abuse – and, in doing so, multiply our common reach.
For our part, the United States will continue to champion religious freedom around the world, including in places like the United Kingdom’s International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
As we move forward, my request to our civil society partners is: continue to work in partnership with us and with each other – especially across faiths and creeds – to advance the cause of religious freedom.
Continue to document abuses, as well as progress – and continue to hold governments like ours accountable to uphold these rights.
Our communities and countries will be better off because of your efforts.
Thank you all.