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ICC NOTE: The first ever Asia-Pacific Religious Freedom Forum was held in Taiwan February 16-19, welcoming dozens of foreign dignitaries and international religious and secular NGOs. The purpose of the forum was to discuss the deterioration of religious freedom and the basic human rights all of mankind hold through God’s love and mercy. As the Asia-Pacific region boasts some of the worst offenders of religious freedom, it was a logical place to host the forum. As the information continues to trickle in regarding the proceedings, the Taiwan Declaration for Religious Freedom was launched by the President and Vice President of their legislative body. Below is the declaration in which they call for both human rights and religious freedom to be honored regardless.

2/25/2016 Taiwan (The Weekly Number) – The Taiwan Declaration for Religious Freedom was personally launched by the President (Su Jia-chyuan, pictured standing) and Vice President (Tsai Chi-chang, on right) of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, or Parliament (國會, guóhuì), together with former Taiwan Vice President (Annette Lu, center), in Taipei, on February 19, 2016.

​During the deliberations, attended by representatives of dozens of governments and country representatives, the mounting challenges to religious freedom in Asia-Pacific and worldwide were addressed.

Below is the Declaration, as released on February 19. A final version with all signatories is forthcoming. (For background, click here.)

TAIWAN DECLARATION ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Whereas the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is protected through international law as defined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Whereas reports by non-governmental organizations, such as Freedom House and government agencies such as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom indicate, religious freedom and related human rights abuse in the Asia Pacific region continue to deteriorate, and threaten regional security and stability.

Whereas the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) and the Inter-Governmental Contact Group for Freedom Religion or Belief are building and strengthening global efforts to promote this fundamental freedom.

Whereas research by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation indicates that the advancement of freedom of religion or belief has a direct correlation with the advancement of democracy, basic human rights, economic prosperity, and thriving civil societies.

Whereas Taiwan has proven to be a model for the Asia Pacific region in promoting human rights, including freedom of religion or belief within in its borders and abroad, and is a strategic location for coordinating human rights initiatives in the Asia Pacific region.

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