Collonges, high place of "Faith for Rights"

Collonges, high place of "Faith for Rights"

The UN OHCHR chooses the Adventist Campus of Salève to hold its second Workshop of Experts on “Faith for Rights”

December 23, 2019 | Collonges-sous-Salève, France. | CD-EUDNews. J.Graz.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has chosen the Adventist University of France in Collonges-sous-Salève to hold its second expert workshop on "Faith for Rights".

On 18 and 19 December 2019, 18 women and 18 men from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America gathered at Collonges for a second expert workshop with the objective of educating on rights, raising awareness of the role of faith in the service of human dignity, and training religious actors to know and contribute to the implementation of the 18 Beirut Commitments on Faith for Rights.

This expert workshop was part of the dynamics of the Rabat 2012 Action Plan, which encouraged religious leaders to become more involved in promoting and defending religious freedom and human rights for all. In 2017, the Beirut Declaration on "Faith for Rights" elaborated a common platform for action in 18 commitments. At the time, Dr John Graz, as Director of the new International Centre for Religious Freedom and Public Affairs (CILRAP) established in Collonges, was invited to participate in the discussions and to co-sign the declaration.

Since then, the CILRAP and the Campus adventiste du Salève have cooperated in several events, including symposiums, concerts and an annual march on the theme "Faith for Rights". In December 2018, the OHCHR organized its first workshop in Collonges to prepare the #Faith4Rights toolkit. The second meeting in December 2019 further refined the draft manual around the 18 themes. It will be used as a toolkit for a future global training campaign to promote freedom of religion or belief and other human rights, in cooperation with secular, religious and State institutions.
The #Faith4Rights toolkit contains 18 modules, which offer concrete ideas for peer learning exercises, sharing personal stories, searching for suitable religious quotations or providing inspiring examples of artistic expression. It also offers several case studies for discussion that broaden the thematic scope of the training. All this is intended to strengthen the skills of religious actors to deal with real-life situations and to achieve the common goals of "Faith for Rights". The whole concept is interactive, action-oriented and conducive to critical reflection.

The expert workshp included the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, as well as actors and researchers from civil society and faith-based organizations. This second workshop was concluded with the adoption of the Collonges Declaration. According to Dr John Graz: "Having close cooperation between the United Nations and CILRAP at Collonges on our Campus was a dream. Today it has become a reality and this is the beginning of a major implementation program".

Dr Gabriel Monet, Dean of the Adventist Faculty of Theology, who was invited as an expert, highlighted the new possibilities for Collonges to have such a meeting focused on human rights and religious freedom. The President of the Campus, Jean Philippe Lehmann, said: "Having high-level academics and human rights actors here has given the Adventist University of France in Collonges a new dimension in the field of human rights and religious freedom.

This OHCHR workshop follows the Human Rights Weekend and Religious Freedom Day that take place every year on the Campus and at the Church of Collonges. All these events make of Collonges an international centre for religious freedom.

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