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Freedom of Religion or Belief - An International Law Commentary by Bielefeldt, Heiner; Ghanea, Nazila; Wiener, Michael (21st January 2016)

Part 5 Cross-Cutting Issues, 5.3 Legislative Issues

From: Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary

Heiner Bielefeldt, Nazila Ghanea, Michael Wiener

Subject(s):
Religion — Freedom of association — Freedom of expression — Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion — Minorities — Human rights remedies

This chapter discusses the importance of legislation in order to respect, ensure, fulfil and protect freedom of religion or belief, without discrimination. In many instances, States are called upon to make changes to their legislation, for example by adopting new laws or amendments in line with international standards, by clarifying definitions in legal provisions, by implementing freedom of religion or belief standards and equal treatment, and by adopting constitutional amendments. However, the duty to ‘give effect’ to human rights goes beyond legislative provision and, as the text of article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights emphasizes, it includes other ‘necessary steps’ to implement these rights. This includes oversight, statistical data that may point to gaps, and independent supervisory bodies to ensure follow-up. This chapter also stresses the importance of creating space for religion and belief diversity for all, without fear and discrimination, and with a respectful functional distancing and distinction between the State and religion(s) or belief(s). This is expanded on in detail in chapter 2.2.

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