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The 2018 SEAFORB Conference convened from 17 August, 2018 to 19 August, 2018. Co-organizers chose these  dates  early in  the planning process in order to ensure the attendance of the  UN Special  Rapporteur on  Freedom  of Religion and  Belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed. The UNSR/FORB not  only gave keynote speeches opening and closing the conference, but also attended conference sessions  and met with  country-specific  focus  groups to  discuss the context of FORB in their respective countries. His presence elevated the event and provided an opportunity for civil society leaders and advocates in the region to engage with important international stakeholders and leaders.  

The 2018 SEAFORB Conference consisted of the following strategic objectives:  

1. To provide a platform for civil society groups, representatives  from  religious   groups,   and  key  policymakers  in  Southeast Asia,  to  have  greater understanding of the importance of the right to freedom of  religion or  belief,  in the  context of  legal  infrastructure and  mechanisms  and  its  impact on FORB; deepen the understanding of participants on new thematic issues such as freedom of expression and the use of restrictive laws in Southeast Asia, harmful practices and violation to women’s FORB in Southeast Asia, intersectionality of ethnicity and gender.  

2. To strengthen the SEAFORB Network by further engaging civil society groups with key policymakers and international FORB protection mechanisms such as the members of Parliament, UNSR/FORB, and the EU Special Envoy for the Promotion of FORB outside the EU.  

3. To develop action plans for the SEAFORB Network to carry out the commitment made in the 2015 Bangkok Declaration. 

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