07/20/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – The 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit highlighted a wide array of issues facing persecuted religious communities around the world, from Christians and Uyghurs in China to Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan to Yazidis in Iraq and so many others around the world. Horrendous stories of the persecuted tore at the hearts of conference attendees and alerted the world to the true nature of what life looks like in countries where religious freedom barely exists or is completely suppressed.
The Summit was a great success, but now the real work begins. Multilateral leadership by the United States is key in the months and years ahead. Without US leadership on international religious freedom, the movement that mobilized governments and civil society will be in danger of fizzling out. The following steps must be taken.
First, the Biden administration must appoint the next Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom and empower the individual at the same level as the prior Trump Administration. International religious freedom grew at an unprecedented rate as a foreign policy priority during the three-year term of Ambassador Brownback. Under him, religious freedom became a pivotal issue in American multilateral and bilateral policy making.
Second, the Biden administration must adopt the recommendations put forth by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The Commission is a bipartisan congressional establishment that monitors religious freedom conditions around the world. USCIRF’s recommendations–if adopted by the Biden administration–will send a signal to countries around the world and emphasize the United States’ commitment to global religious freedom.
Finally, the Biden administration must make IRF a standing issue in every multilateral and bilateral meeting. Continued emphasis on these issues is critical to advancing this core human right at a global scale. Religious minorities around the world are a constant target of hate, bigotry and violence and the United States must take every opportunity to push back on governments that persecute their own people.
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