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HRC37: Statement by Denmark in Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion

28.03.2018  16:50

Statement by Denmark in Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion

02.03.2018 

UN Human Rights Council     2018
 Thirty-seventh Session

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed
 Intervention by Denmark

Thank you Mr. President,
 Denmark aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.
 The negative global trend in Freedom of Religion or Belief is a cause for concern. We appreciate this opportunity to share views on how to make common progress.
 Mr. Shaheed, let me thank you for presenting your reports to the Human Rights Council, including your report on State-Religion relationships and their impact on freedom of religion or belief. It represents an analytically useful approach to categorizing states.

In Denmark, Article 4 of the Constitution states that ‘The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the Established Church of Denmark, and as such shall be supported by the State’. This places Denmark in a category, which according to your report may be challenged on freedom of religion or belief.
 Still all citizens in Denmark enjoy freedom of religion or belief. Hence, in his general observations of his country report on Denmark from 2016, your predecessor Heiner Bielefeldt noted that, “Freedom of religion or belief is a tangible reality in Denmark.” This proves that full freedom of religion or belief is indeed possible with a state religion or a favored religion. The point is how you protect other religions or beliefs in practice. Denmark concurs with your observations regarding anti-blasphemy laws, noting that we abolished our blasphemy ban in 2017.

To strengthen our efforts in promoting freedom of religion or belief worldwide, Denmark recently launched a dedicated Office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which I have the honor of heading. We look forward to support your work.

Mr. Shaheed, in a previous report you called for states to make more use of the Universal Periodic Review to come forward with more recommendations in the field of freedom of religion or belief – a suggestion that Denmark has taken to heart.

In this regard, could you elaborate on other ways in which governments can support the work in promoting freedom of religion or belief globally?

I thank you.