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IRF Ministerial Logo Green [State Department Image]

July 24-26, 2018

Click here to view the livestream of Day 1: Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom 

Secretary Pompeo will host the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, the first-ever Ministerial to advance religious freedom around the world. This event will focus on concrete outcomes that reaffirm international commitments to promote religious freedom and produce real, positive change. The Ministerial will convene a broad range of stakeholders, including foreign ministers, international organization representatives, religious leaders, and civil society representatives, to discuss challenges, identify concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for religious freedom for all.

Expanding the Conversation: On July 24, we will equip and empower civil society organizations, including organizations working on religious freedom, to understand better how to access U.S. financial support for their efforts. Civil society, including religious organizations, are vital to protecting and promoting religious freedom. During this session, experts will explain to participants the U.S. grant making process and answer their questions. Then, senior U.S. government officials will provide an overview of foreign policy goals in relation to international religious freedom. Finally, philanthropic and private sector organizations will share best practices for civil society organizations to link their efforts to improve religious freedom with private sector initiatives and resources.

Civil Society Lessons Learned: On July 25, members of civil society groups, including religious leaders and survivors of religious persecution, will convene to tell their stories, share their expertise, and ultimately unite on a path to greater religious freedom in our societies. We have invited more than 175 civil society representatives and more than 100 religious leaders representing every corner of the world to participate. The program will include breakout sessions on the intersections between religious freedom and women’s rights; religious freedom and countering violent extremism; religious freedom and economic prosperity; confronting legal challenges to religious freedom; advocating for equal rights for all; preserving cultural heritage; and providing support and care to victims of religious violence or persecution. The Secretary will host an evening reception with foreign government delegations and authorities, religious community participants, U.S. government officials, and Members of Congress.

Role of Government: On July 26, government and international organization representatives will participate in plenary sessions focused on: (1) identifying global challenges to religious freedom, (2) developing innovative responses to persecution on the basis of religion, and (3) sharing new commitments to protect religious freedom for all. We have invited authorities from over 80 countries that have a demonstrated record for advancing religious freedom and are committed to promoting Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or that recently have taken meaningful steps to begin to do so. We also have invited representatives from international organizations to participate. Survivors or close relatives of those who suffered persecution due to their religious beliefs will share their stories. We ask delegations to announce at the Ministerial new actions to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future