June 21, 2014

UN Event Boosts Visibility of Religious Freedom NGO

The Adventist-affiliated group AIDLR got a welcome boost in
visibility this month by organizing its first event at the United Nations office
in Geneva, organizers said.

AIDLR, or International Association for the Defense of
Religious Liberty, co-sponsored a panel discussion on the sidelines of the 26th
session of the UN Human Rights Council on June 10.

<strong>THE PANEL:</strong> Liviu Olteanu, center, and other panelists discussing religious freedom at the UN's Geneva office on May 10, 2014. Photo credit: Corrado Cozzi / EUD

"The big miracle is that we could organize our event at
the UN level [and] in the most important place in the world regarding human
rights: the 26th session of the Human Rights Council,” Liviu Olteanu,
secretary-general of AIDLR, said in a statement. “We praise the Lord for it and
for the participation of so many UN delegations.”

Participating UN delegations included Algeria, Austria,
Denmark, Hungary, Malta, Russia, Serbia and the Vatican. People of various
faiths also were represented: Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox believers, and

"One of the biggest results is the international
visibility of AIDLR and a growing UN interest for religious liberty and
religious minorities," Olteanu said.

Panelists at the June 10 event, titled “Worldwide Human
Rights, Religious Liberty and Religious Minorities,” cautioned that religious
freedoms risked being curbed if efforts weren’t made to better coordinate the
work of the UN, European Union and other entities that have various approaches
to human rights.

The other co-sponsors of the event were the permanent
delegations to the UN of Canada, Norway, Spain, Uruguay, and the Council of

During the discussion, IADLR presented a new book,
“Worldwide Human Rights and Religious Liberty: A New Equilibrium or New
Challenges,” a collection of writings from four UN secretaries-general,
religious leaders and other personalities such as former U.S. first lady
Eleanor Roosevelt.

AIDLR is a UN-recognized nongovernmental organization
founded by a French Adventist physician in 1946.

John Graz, secretary-general of the Adventist-founded
International Religious Liberty Association, which assisted with the event, expressed
satisfaction with the results.

"It was the first meeting we have ever organized at the
UN Geneva,” he said. “It was excellent!”

Related links

EUD statement

Earlier Adventist Review article: “UN Panel Frets Over Religious Freedom”