December 15, 2018

“At the Forefront of the Promotion of Religious Freedom”

On December 8, 2018, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Centre for Religious Freedom and Public Affairs (CILRAP) organized its second Human Rights Day at the Adventist Campus of Salève in Collonges-Sous- Salève, France. 

Special guests included Jean Arnold de Clermont, president of the Pharos Observatory and former president of the Protestant Federation of France and the European Conference of Churches; Ambassador Ibrahim Salama, head of the Treaty Service and the Council to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and Gabriel Goléa, secretary of the Union of Adventist Federations of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

One day later, in partnership with OHCHR, CILRAP launched the first meeting of the Faith for Rights program between Geneva and Collonges-sous-Salève. Representing various religious groups, freedom-of-religion supporters visited a calligraphy exhibition by Abdelrazzak Fadloun on the 18 commitments of UN’s Faith for Rights declaration.

Faith for Rights is an OHCHR program that “provides space for a long-overdue cross-disciplinary reflection on the deep, and mutually enriching, connections between religions and human rights.”

CILRAP director John Graz, a former Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) director for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke about the importance of freedom of worship and religion. After his speech, the group attended meetings with Eric Ackermann of the Jewish community in Geneva and Hafid Ouardiri, from la Fondation de l’Entre-connaissance. They were also present at a special concert on the 18 commitments of Faith for Rights.

Confirming this historic partnership between OHCHR and the Adventist Campus of Salève, officers agreed to a meeting of experts, to be selected by OHCHR, that will take place on December 14-15, 2018, on the campus.

Also on December 9, French national channel France 2 broadcast a program from Paris on human and religious rights. Graz was one of the guests.

Graz said he is happy for the significant progress made. “This is a cooperation [initiative] that we had a hard time imagining a year ago, as the CILRAP was taking its first steps,” he said.

Adventist Campus of Salève president Jean Philippe Lehmann believes the school has positioned itself as an international leader in the area of protecting religious rights. “With the OHCHR Faith for Rights program and the following expertise seminar, Adventist Campus of Salève is at the forefront internationally for the promotion of religious freedom,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division news page.

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