Safeguarding and promoting the freedom of religion constitutes one of the priorities in Italy’s foreign policy and in its commitment to protect human rights. This is why I am particularly happy today to greet here at the Farnesina the Conference co-organised with the ISPI and dedicated to the protection of religious communities, with the participation of representatives from the world of religion, academia and diplomacy and of international experts.
In line with the intention to support the culture of dialogue and mutual understanding, I have promoted the establishment of an Observatory on religious minorities in the world and on the respect for religious freedom, which will be set up precisely today.
The Observatory will be tasked with conducting surveys and analyses and monitoring the conditions of religious minorities in the world with a view to increasing their scope of protection. It will propose awareness-raising activities, also at local level, and will carry out its work in cooperation with our overseas diplomatic network.
I am confident that the Observatory’s work will be a new important element of Italy’s networked promotion of religious freedoms as it will involve representatives of the academic world and of civil society with the aim of making our action even better targeted and more effective in realising our wish for peace. Defending every individual’s freedom to profess his/her faith and protecting the rights of those who belong to minorities and religious communities are the co-founding elements in promoting inclusive and peaceful societies. The dissemination of these values is essential to achieve peace and stability.
On this front, I have wanted to relaunch our political action both within international organisations and in our diplomatic relations with Nations. Only too often has the religious factor been seen as the cause of conflict instead of part of the solution. The selectivity and systematicity of the violence perpetrated against minority religious communities especially – albeit not only – in the Middle Eastern area, demand a clear response by the international community. For example, we experienced great grief in witnessing the attacks and acts of violence against the Christian minorities in the world. But it is the same grief that affects everybody any time a religious community is struck and violated.
They are simple initiatives launched at international level to safeguard religious freedom. In this context, it is necessary to assure consistent actions and reinforce our cooperation – which is already positive and encouraging – with numerous partners. But the current situation calls for additional efforts. Our convinced contribution, also through humanitarian interventions, towards effectively repressing violence against emic and religious minorities, is grounded on the full respect for the principles of impartiality and humanity. Our international action has always been inspired by the principle of the universality of response, with the aim of defending the communities struck by these acts of violence, independently from their religion or ethnic belonging. The Conference will focus on an aspect that is particularly dear to me: the need to involve young people in promoting a culture of respect and dialogue. Indeed, young people are the main players actually in charge of promoting change in our societies. It is necessary to work on raising the awareness of younger generations on these issues in order to educate them to respect human rights, something that is essential in order for every individual to become aware of his/her rights and be fully capable to uphold and exercise them but also to respect other people’s rights.