Commonwealth Initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief (CIFoRB)
October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2018
Core Funding Area:
Individual Freedom and Free Markets
Director: Baroness Elizabeth BerridgeInstitution: University of Birmingham
Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) – the fundamental right to have, choose, change, and manifest one's religion or belief – faces significant threats worldwide. Our Commonwealth Initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief (CIFoRB) responds to the UN Special Rapporteur's appeal for supporting FoRB by exploring the potential of parliamentarians in Commonwealth countries. We believe parliamentarians have a unique capacity and opportunity to work within and across national boundaries for change and that they can become highly-effective agents of change.
Parliamentarians in some Commonwealth countries (such as the UK, Australia and Canada) have been key initiators of strategies to reverse the disturbing worldwide increase of restrictions upon religious and non-religious belief and practice, but we believe they can be even more effective if given the appropriate training and professional resourcing. We hope that our support will substantially impact the effectiveness of parliamentarians in their work to improve the lives of those whose freedom is presently curtailed.
We select the Commonwealth as our context since it is a diverse, multireligious global family of nations which, despite its Charter commitments, presents some of the worst and best practices internationally in FoRB. CIFoRB establishes a unique advocacy, support and professional development unit deploying international academic, parliamentary and policy expertise targeted to increase the number, knowledge, profile, and impact of parliamentarians and senior advisors working for FoRB across the Commonwealth. We will approach this task through research, training, mentoring, and development. We also plan to establish a Commonwealth Commission for FoRB which will work in strategically-significant nations to support and encourage parliamentary activity and help parliamentarians to maximise their opportunities to speak out authoritatively.
We aim for our work to have lasting and enduring impact in the attainment of a fairer, safer global society where FoRB is rightly cherished, and this would be a fitting tribute to the legacy of Sir John Templeton and his commitment to building a more peaceable and tolerant world.
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