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Bangkok Declaration

The following is the text of the Declaration of Freedom of Religion or Belief in Southeast  Asia,  the  Bangkok  Declaration,  that  was  adopted  at  the  first 

Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference (SEAFORB I) in 2015.

We, the undersigned participants to the Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Southeast Asia, co-organized by the  International  Commission  of Jurists (ICJ), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Boat People SOS (BPSOS), held on 30 September to 1  October  2015  in Bangkok, Thailand hereby declare:


Whereas the prospect of greater economic, social and cultural integration  among  the  States  of  the  Association  of  Southeast  Asian  Nations  (ASEAN) provides an important opportunity for acknowledging existing and emerging diversity of religions or beliefs in the region;


Whereas violations of freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief [henceforth ‘freedom of religion or belief’] continue to occur around the world and in Southeast Asia, perpetrated by both States and non-state actors;

Whereas Southeast Asian national and regional institutions are beginning to recognize the prevalence of violations of the freedom of religion  or  belief  in the region;


Whereas the freedom of religion or belief is a universal, established, and non- derogable human right, enshrined  in  international  treaties  at  the  United Nations, regional instruments, and domestic constitutions;


Whereas States are accountable under international human rights law to respect, protect and promote freedom of religion or belief in conjunction with all other human rights;


The signatories REAFFIRM:


Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares


“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.”


Freedom of religion or belief is  an inalienable, non-derogable human right, encompassing the right to hold or not to  hold  any  faith  or  belief,  to  change belief, and to be free from coercion and to manifest religion or belief.


For freedom of religion or belief to be fully enjoyed,  other human  rights  must also  be  respected,  particularly  the  principle  of  non-discrimination  and freedoms of expression, assembly, association, movement, and the right to education.


The signatories COMMIT to: Defend and promote freedom of religion or belief as a universal, inalienable and non-derogable human  right, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in international law and declarations, and in the work of national, regional, and global institutions.

Defend and promote freedom of religion or belief  for  all  persons,  as  individuals  and  in  community  with  others,  through  their  work  and  respective institutions by sharing information and mobilizing effective responses.


Work toward  the  non-discriminatory  realization  of  freedom  of  religion  or  belief   in  recognition  of  multiple  and  intersectional  discriminations  and vulnerabilities, including, among other grounds,  on  grounds  of  ethnicity,  indigenous  identity,  gender,  sexual  orientation,  citizenship,  and  disabilities.


Enhance global and regional cooperation by working across geographical, national, racial, ethnic, political and religious boundaries.


Advocate   for    accountability   and  remedies   for   individuals   and   communities  suffering   from  violence,  persecution,  discrimination,  harassment, marginalization or other abuses of human rights because of their religion or belief.


Express and act in solidarity with individuals and communities suffering from violence, persecution, discrimination, harassment, marginalization or other abuses of human rights because of their religion or belief.

*The text above was based on the 2014 Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief and the 2015 New York Resolution for Freedom of  Religion  or  Belief  of the International Panel of Parliaments for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFORB). 

For a full list of the individuals and organizations who signed the Declaration during or after SEAFORB I, click here

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