Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee for an Interactive Dialogue with Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur for the Right to Freedom of Religio

Mordica Simpson
ECOSOC Advisor
United States
New York City
October 22, 2018


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon. The United States thanks the Special Rapporteur for his efforts in promoting religious freedom for all people. We commend Mr. Shaheed for his direct engagement with governments to highlight their significant role in protecting this fundamental freedom.

The United States welcomes the progress made in certain countries, while noting with great concern the deterioration in others.

In Uzbekistan, the government has passed a religious freedom roadmap. We commend Uzbekistan for progress to date and urge the government to work with the Special Rapporteur and other international experts to ensure their laws and policies are consistent with Uzbekistan’s international human rights obligations and commitments and with best practices.

In China, we are appalled by credible reports that authorities have arbitrarily detained hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions of Muslims in “re-education camps” in Xinjiang. There are reports of torture and deaths in these camps. Chinese authorities are restricting religious freedom and fueling intolerance by labeling Muslim religious practices as manifestations of “religious extremism.” We call upon all states to speak out against the egregious human rights violations by the People’s Republic of China.

The United States convened the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July and co-chaired with Canada the International Contact Group for Freedom of Religion or Belief. We continue to support the Istanbul Process, designed to challenge intolerance and discriminatory actions through open dialogue between governments, civil society and religious leaders with full respect for freedoms of religion and of expression. We hope a Member State will convene a follow-up conference.

Mr. Shaheed, what more can the international community do to address the human rights crisis in Xinjiang, China?