School of Global Studies


Sussex lecturer joins prestigious international panel of experts on freedom of religion or belief

Members of the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief

A Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex has been appointed to a prestigious international panel of experts on the Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB).

Dr Fabio Petito, from the School of Global Studies, will sit on the independent panel, appointed by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), for three years alongside fifteen other experts from around the world.

Part of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), ODIHR is one of the world’s principal regional human rights bodies, with responsibility for promoting democratic elections, respect of human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and the rule of law.

Dr Fabio Petito said: "I am delighted to have been appointed as the UK member of what is one of the main international mechanisms focusing on the protection of fundamental human rights.

"Unfortunately today, millions of people of different religions or beliefs in different parts of the world, are subjected to persecution or serious discrimination because of what they believe.

"I look forward to providing advice to OSCE's 57 participating states, including on draft legislation, policies and states practices as well as educational and capacity-building efforts undertaken by ODIHR in the implementation of its efforts to advance freedom of religion or belief for all in the OSCE region."

The appointment came as a result of a recent consultation project led by Dr Petito’s FoRB and Foreign Policy Initiative, an interdisciplinary research network of Sussex academics co-funded by the University’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA).

Over recent years, Dr Petito has been able to engage policy makers in the UK and across Europe on combatting intolerance based on religion through high-level strategic events, including two in UK parliament.

Professor Elizabeth Harrison, Head of the School of Global Studies, said: “I am delighted that Fabio’s expertise and experience have been recognised in this way. The advice that he has provided to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office over several years has been important in the protection of the human rights of those of diverse religions and beliefs.

“Recognition of this through his appointment to this prestigious Panel of Experts will enable Fabio to further increase the reach and impact of his work.

“The School of Global Studies is committed to contesting exclusion, discrimination and inequality through both research and teaching. This appointment is a great reflection of this commitment.”

The first meeting of the ODIHR Panel of Experts on the Freedom of Religion or Belief will take place this week in Warsaw. Invitations to observe the meetings moving forward will be extended to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief amongst others. 

To find out more about ODIHR’s work on the Freedom of Religion or Belief, visit

To see all the members of the panel, click here. 


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By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Friday, 30 August 2019