To Address Religious Persecution The Mechanism Of The EU Special Envoy On FoRB Needs More Teeth
On February 4, 2016, the European Parliament, as the second international institution, adopted a resolution that formally recognized the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by Daesh as genocide. The resolution, among other things, urged "the members of the UN Security Council to support a referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court in order to investigate violations committed in Iraq and Syria" perpetrated by Daesh. The resolution further called for the creation of a new mechanism of a special representative for the promotion of religious freedom.
On May 6, 2016, President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, announced that Mr Jan Figel was appointed as the first Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU (EU Special Envoy on FoRB) with a mandate for one year, which is renewable.
According to that Decision of the President of the European Commission, "The Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU shall report on an annual basis in the context of the dialogue between the Commission and churches and religious associations or communities, led by the First Vice-President in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights."
Over the recent years, and having had his mandate renewed twice, the EU Special Envoy on FoRB has been supporting the implementation of the "EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief." He has been conducting country visits to engage a wide range of actors working at the national and international level, including governmental bodies, religious leaders, civil society, human rights organisations, and the affected communities. Furthermore, as the European Parliament’s page identified: "At the core of his work lays the promotion of respect for diversity on religious or belief grounds and the support for inclusive intercultural and interreligious dialogue processes.In his work, the Special Envoy is committed to an approach based on the protection of all human rights including freedom of religion or belief, the right to believe or not to believe."
However, in order to ensure that the mandate of the EU Special Envoy on FoRB can fulfil its potential, it is crucial to ensure that the mandate has more teeth.