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International Standards Pertaining to the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief

UN Framework 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 18  

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion, which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 14 

1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (Among others Articles 1 and 6)

 (1) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.  This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. (2) No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice. (3) Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

  •  This freedom may be exercised in public or in private, individually or in community with others.
  • This freedom, at a minimum, encompasses the following freedoms:
  • To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief, and to establish and maintain, including the building of places of worship, freely accessible places for these purposes;
  • To establish and maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions, and seminaries or religious schools;
  • To make, acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites or customs of a religion or belief, including the use of ritual formulae and objects, the display of symbols, observance of dietary regulations, the wearing of distinctive clothing or head coverings, participation in rituals associated with certain stages of life, and the use of a particular language customarily spoken by a group;
  • To write, issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas;
  • To teach a religion or belief in places suitable for these purposes;
  • To solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals and institutions;
  • To organize, train, appoint, elect, designate by succession, or replace appropriate leaders, priests and teachers called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief;
  • To observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one’s religion or belief; and
  • To establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion and belief at the national and international levels.

Council of Europe Framework

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Article 9

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

 European Union Framework

Charter of Fundamental Rights Article 10

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. The right to conscientious objection is recognised, in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of this right.