On March 5, 2018, as part of the work of the regular session of the UN Human Rights Council, O. Denisov took part in the event “Religion and State – a Multidimensional Relationship.”
The event was moderated by the Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations Mr. Carl Hallergard. The main speakers were the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, the EU Special Envoy for freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union Jan Figel, Director of the OHCHR’s Treaty Department in the field of human rights Mr. Ibrahim Salama.
During the discussion, the participants of the event stressed that ensuring freedom of religious belief is the responsibility of states that must take effective measures to prevent and eliminate any form of discrimination and violations of rights in the religious sphere. Such a duty exists regardless of an attitude of the state to whatever religious organization – both in the case when the state recognizes a certain religion as dominant and in the case when the country’s legal system is regulated according to the principles of secularization and separation of church and state.
Earlier, NGO Public Advocacy, using the rights granted to organizations in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and in accordance with the procedure of the UN HRC, filed applications concerning violations of the rights of Orthodox communities in Ukraine and Israel, as well as violations of the rights of journalists and human rights defenders. These statements are included in the agenda of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The UN HRC, in accordance with its legal status, is authorized to review individual, collective complaints and statements of human rights organizations regarding human rights violations, and is also obliged to ensure the resolution of conflicts that arise both within the state and internationally.
After the event, a meeting was held between O. Denisov with the EU Special Envoy for Promoting Freedom of Religion and Belief outside the EU, Mr. Jan Figel, during which there were discussed ways to overcome the critical situation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in view of the numerous cases of violations of the believers’ rights and the exacerbation of religious confrontation in society. Mr. Jan Figel was given a human rights report by NGO Public Advocacy on violations of the rights of Orthodox Christians and copies of written statements, submitted to the UN HRC.
Representatives of the non-governmental organization Public Advocacy also held a series of talks on possibilities of improving the dialogue between the state and religious organizations during the events “Culture and Religious Diversity and Universality”, “Religion / Religious Freedoms and Their Impact on Peace and Security”, which were organized by the missions of the UN participating states and international organizations.