Order of Malta participates in a two-day ministerial videoconference on advancing freedom of religion or belief
The third Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief was held via videoconference on 16 and 17 November. It was hosted by Poland for the first time, with the two previous editions, in 2018 and 2019, having been convened in the United States.
The first day of the event was attended by representatives of almost 60 states and international organisations, including ministers of foreign affairs, deputy foreign ministers, and special envoys for freedom of religion. Participants from the Sovereign Order of Malta included the Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager, Ambassador Stefano Ronca, Secretary General for Foreign Affairs, and Niels Lorijn, Ambassador to Poland.
The second day included a ministerial meeting of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA), organised by the United States. The IRFBA is an international initiative which aims at fostering greater awareness and coordination to protect members of religious minority groups from prosecution and combat discrimination based on religion or belief. Its Declaration of Principles is grounded in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, which states everyone has freedom to believe or not believe, to change faith, to meet alone for prayer or corporately for worship. Launched in February 2020, the Alliance brings together 32 states representing all geographical regions of the world. The Sovereign Order of Malta joined the IRFBA as an observer member in September 2020.
In his address, the Grand Chancellor thanked the member countries for having invited the Sovereign Order of Malta to join the IRFBA and underlined the unshakable values that lie at the core the Order’s global humanitarian mission: solidarity, generosity, compassion, and respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of each person and of all minorities. He acknowledged the important role of faith-based institutions in advancing freedom of religion or belief, and reaffirmed the Order’s commitment to promoting interfaith dialogue and greater inter- and intra-religious understanding