Religious Leaders of Cyprus will jointly address the
31st Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations
H.E. Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, representing H.B. Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Church of Cyprus) and H.E. Dr. Talip Atalay, Mufti of Cyprus will attend the 31st Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva on the 9-11 March.
On March 11 at 12:00 (Geneva time) the religious leaders will address the Human Rights Council together with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief at a side event, titled “Interreligious Communication, Freedom of Religion & Peacebuilding” hosted by the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations and related organisations in Geneva, organised by the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden in Cyprus. (RTCYPP). (Poster announcement attached)
During their visit, the religious leaders will also have the opportunity to attend the 30th anniversary celebrations of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief taking place at the United Nations.
At the end of the visit, the Office of RTCYPP will issue a press release.
Note to Editors:
About the Human Rights Council
“The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.” (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/AboutCouncil.aspx)
The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) is a peacebuilding initiative with the religious leaders of Cyprus who are committed to work together for human rights, peace and reconciliation.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Mufti Talip Atalay are the first religious leaders of Cyprus in over 5 decades who established a successful working relationship with each other with the help of Swedish facilitation. In 2012, the Greek Orthodox primate of the Church of Cyprus and the Muslim Mufti invited the heads of the Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Latin Catholic Churches to join them in their efforts to advocate for religious freedom, human rights and peace in Cyprus.
Originally a quiet initiative that started in 2009, at the residence of the Swedish Ambassador to Cyprus, the RTCYPP has evolved into an active peacebuilding effort based on 4 pillars: build trust among the religious leaders and communities, promote confidence building measures, ensure the protection of religious monuments and advocate for the right to access and worship.
The RTCYPP has brought about important breakthroughs for religious freedom and human rights in Cyprus fostering interreligious, cross-community communication and cooperation. The road ahead is still long and the challenges many but the religious leaders of Cyprus reiterate their commitment to working together for human rights and peace within the framework of the RTCYPP.
The Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden is established to encourage, facilitate and serve the religious leaders’ dialogue and efforts for religious freedom and peace in Cyprus and to contribute positively and constructively to the Cyprus peace talks. The Office is based at the Home for Cooperation in the UN controlled buffer zone in Nicosia.
About the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
The Special Rapporteur has been charged by Human Rights Council:
To promote the adoption of measures at the national, regional and international levels to ensure the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief;
To identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles;
To continue her/his efforts to examine incidents and governmental actions that are incompatible with the provisions of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and to recommend remedial measures as appropriate;
To continue to apply a gender perspective, inter alia, through the identification of gender-specific abuses, in the reporting process, including in information collection and in recommendations.
Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt (Germany) assumed his mandate as special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in August 2010.
He was the first human rights expert that conducted an official country visit to Cyprus in the March/April 2012. Read more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/FreedomReligionIndex.aspx
On 9 March 2016 at 9.00-12.00am the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt will present his latest report (A/HRC/31/18) to the Human Rights Council in which he acknowledges the interreligious dialogue between the Religious Leaders of Cyprus.
Extract from Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, A/HRC/31/18, para. 42:
“In Cyprus, the enhanced interreligious communication between Christian and Muslim leaders has led to recent breakthroughs including the re-opening of churches and mosques that had been inaccessible for decades owing to the protracted conflict on the island.”