Jan Figeľ, Katherine Cash, Ahmed Shaheed and others at the UN launch of the NORFoRB Learning Platform (NORFoRB)
Jan Figeľ, Katherine Cash, Ahmed Shaheed and others at the UN launch of the FoRB Learning Platform (NORFoRB)

A new website to help promote understanding of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) was launched yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland, at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council.

The Sweden-based FoRB Learning Platform provides downloadable resources in 13 different languages, including quick guides to religious rights, movie clips, theological reflections, and links to other sources – including World Watch Monitor – that analyse religious freedoms in specific countries and faith groups.

The initiative is aimed at “civil society, faith communities, decision makers and the media”, according to its creator, the Nordic Ecumenical Network on International Freedom of Religion or Belief (NORFORB).

It specifically targets educators and facilitators, and encourages good practice by inviting organisations to share their own initiatives with an online community.

The site was set up to fill a gap, according to NORFORB representative Katherine Cash: “Eighteen months ago, at a seminar here in the UN, a parliamentarian asked where they can learn about freedom of religion or belief. No-one had an answer. Civil servants, journalists and civil society faced the same problem.”

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB, who presented his annual report to the Human Rights Council last week, said the initiative “is a vitally important contribution and a quantum leap for human rights education on freedom of religion or belief”.

Jan Figeľ, EU Special Envoy on FoRB outside the EU, congratulated NORFORB “on a timely and needed initiative in order to address common misunderstandings regarding issues of freedom of religion or belief”.