Broadcast: News items

Sussex brings international stakeholders together in support of freedom of religion or belief

Stephen Lloyd MP and Dr Fabio Petito listening to points made by Emanuela Claudia Del Re, the Italian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

The Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Ahmad, speaking at the event on interreligious engagement

Academics from the University of Sussex brought together parliamentarians and representatives from governments, faith groups and other organisations across the world on 12 July, for an event in Parliament to discuss the importance of supporting freedom of religion or belief.

Dr Fabio Petito, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Director of the Freedom of Religion or Belief & Foreign Policy Initiative, based at the University, worked with his team to organise the event.  

The seminar was co-hosted by the All‐Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Stephen Lloyd MP and the Labour Party’s Faith Envoy, the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, helping to chair the discussions on how to address the complex challenge of intolerance and discrimination, based on a person’s religion or beliefs

The Prime Minister’s new Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Ahmad, was amongst the senior policy makers who attended the event and paid tribute to the University’s work on this issue.

Senior diplomats from the Italian, Danish and French governments, as well as representatives from the United Nations, the European Commission and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) also attended, alongside other international experts on religious freedom.

Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell spoke during the event and thanked delegates for joining the discussions.  He told attendees their approach in bringing people together to promote tolerance, understanding, and respect for others’ voices and opinions chimed with the University’s own core values, embodied in the new Sussex 2025 Strategic Framework.   

The parliamentary meeting forms part of a wider consultation process with international partners, led by the University’s multidisciplinary Freedom of Religion or Belief & Foreign Policy Initiative, in conjunction with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

The consultation will culminate in a report later this year, outlining interreligious engagement strategies that can be used by governments and international organisations as key policy tools to combat religious intolerance.

Commenting after the parliamentary event, Dr Petito said: “Engagement with religious actors and interreligious collaboration are crucial and under-utilised policy tools to promote freedom of religion or belief and to combat intolerance.”

“The inhumane situation many religious believers and atheists are facing at the hands of violent extremism and oppressive states is unacceptable.  The protection of freedom of religion or belief requires the intensification of our common policy effort, bringing people with different perspectives and experiences together to develop innovative solutions that will tackle discrimination and make a real difference to people’s lives”.


By: Sarah Whitehead
Last updated: Thursday, 19 July 2018

Share: