Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Strategic Communications and Research Ernesto C. Abella during the virtual meeting of the Third Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief.
WARSAW 20 November 2020 – Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Strategic Communications and Research Ernesto C. Abella represented the Philippines in the Third Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief co-hosted by the United States and Poland on 16-17 November 2020.
The virtual meeting gathered high-level officials from 60 States and International Organizations, including ministers of foreign affairs, deputy foreign ministers, and special envoys for freedom of religion. It was the third to be held after previous meetings in 2018 and 2019 that were hosted by the US State Department.
Undersecretary Abella, who attended the Ministerial for the third time, thanked Poland for organizing the conference which enabled participants to share views and practices on how to advance this fundamental freedom of religion or belief and protect religious minorities.
In his speech during the General Debate, Undersecretary Abella stressed that the Philippines enshrines freedom of religion as a fundamental human right and guarantees the liberty to profess and adhere to religious beliefs, practices and convictions without unreasonable restrictions.
He noted in particular the active participation of religious minorities in the mainstream of national life and the Philippines’ advocacy of interfaith dialogues in multilateral, regional and domestic forums as a vital tool to advance and protect religious liberty.
The second day of the conference was devoted to three thematic sessions on the freedom of religion or belief and its links to security, human rights, gender equality, and sustainable development. Representatives of civil society, international, religious and non-government organizations discussed how international cooperation among entities committed to advancing freedom of religion or belief could move forward especially in these challenging times of a pandemic. They called for worldwide commitment to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief through concrete initiatives where coordinated and joint action could be explored. END