Press Release 27.9.17

Office of RTCYPP Convenes Third Round Table for Human Rights in Cyprus

The Office of RTCYPP will be convening its third Round Table for Human Rights with representatives of faith communities and partner civil society organisations on the 28 September 2017 at the Home for Cooperation. The main aim of the meeting will be to provide an opportunity for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to introduce its initiative “Faith for Rights” including the “Beirut Declaration” and its 18 Commitments as a follow up of the 2012 “Rabat Plan of Action” to the faith communities in Cyprus.
The initiative “Faith for Rights” was launched by the OHCHR in March 2017 with an expert workshop in Beirut and addresses stakeholders in the field of religion or belief. The initiative aims to provide space for a cross-disciplinary dialogue between religions and human rights, articulating that individual and communal expression of religions or beliefs thrive and flourish in environments where human rights are protected. The 18 Commitments included in the “Beirut Declaration” are formulated to take concrete action regarding the three core responsibilities of religious leaders articulated in the 2012 “Rabat Plan of Action” regarding racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. The three core responsibilities are:
• Refraining from using messages of intolerance that may incite violence, hostility or discrimination;
• Speaking out firmly and promptly against in tolerance, discriminatory stereotyping and instances of hate speech;
• Being clear that violence can never be tolerated as a response to incitement to hatred

Some of the issues in the 18 Commitments are as follows:
• Stand up for the rights of all persons belonging to minorities;
• Publicly denounce all instances of advocacy of hatred that incites to violence, discrimination or hostility;
• Monitor interpretations, determinations or other religious views that manifestly conflict with universal human rights norms and standard to refine the curriculums, teaching materials and textbooks;
• Revisit religious interpretations that appear to perpetuate gender inequality and harmful stereotypes or even condone gender-based violence

The Office of RTCYPP convened the first Round Table for Human Rights in 2013, in cooperation with the OHCHR and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief (FORB). For the first time faith communities in Cyprus came together with civil society partners from both sides of the divided island to address and discuss together issues related to freedom of religion or belief. The second Round Table for Human Rights took place in October 2015 once again in cooperation with the Office of OHCHR and the Special Rapporteur on FORB focussing on the right to access and restore sacred places and education as a tool to promote freedom of religion. The 2017 RTCYPP Round Table for Human Rights will discuss concrete ways to engage with “Faith for Rights" to be implemented for and with women, men and children on the whole island.

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