I am pleased to make this statement as the Norwegian Government’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief.
Promoting of freedom of religion and belief is an important part of Norwegian policy. It is a basic human right and must be respected.
Human rights are for all, irrespective of gender or belief. Religious belief, doctrines, traditions, and practices cannot be used to justify discrimination and exclusion of girls and women, LGBTQI-people, and religious minorities.
Norway first appointed a Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief back in 2012. The Envoy is mandated to work with Civil Society organizations and within broader international organizations and alliances. And we have kept the allocations for this policy area at a substantial level over the last years. The Envoi is also the head of the Norwegian delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Unfortunately, and in many countries, people are discriminated against based on ethnicity, religion, and culture. The root causes of violations are often complex.
Norway is pleased to cooperate with the OSCE, including the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, on issues regarding tolerance and non-discrimination, and freedom of religion and belief.
As mentioned in the Norwegian general response to the reports of the Personal Representatives to the Permanent Council, we would be more than happy to welcome all three Personal Representatives of the CIO to an in person visit to Norway, to discuss some of the issues at hand more thoroughly with relevant stakeholders.
I thank you.