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IRFBA Ministerial
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International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance Ministerial Conference

Date: 28.11.2023 - 30.11.2023 , Venue: Prague

The Article 18 Alliance 

Program of the Ministerial Conference of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance on Freedom of Religion or Belief under Authoritarian Regimes

The Ministerial Conference of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA) addressed the topic of Freedom of Religion or Belief under Authoritarian Regimes. The conference explored the misuse of religion for political purposes, building resilience and the role of new technologies in the suppression of religious or belief minorities. The main panel sessions also analyzed past experiences in Central Europe under communist rule, and considered how this may help understand the means by which repressive regimes currently restrict freedom of religion or belief. The objective of the conference was also to highlight how sports and youth engagement can build interreligious and cross-cultural communities that encourage a shared culture of respect. The final part of the conference was dedicated to women's rights, and how they can be articulated with freedom of religion. We appreciate the collaborative spirit in discussions, Q&A sessions and informal meetings of the 300 participants in the Czernin Palace and other 200 participants at the side events together from 60 countries. Such active involvement means a crucial contribution in promoting FoRB and advocating for specific people suffering for their religion or belief around the globe. The goal was to open new channels of discussion in order to raise a greater awareness of the diversity, mutual recognition, equality, and freedom of religion or belief. Each session was dedicated to a specific person suffering for faith or belief as the ultimate goal of our efforts.

Program as of Nov 30, 2023 

Photos from the conference

Freedom of Religion under Authoritarian Regimes

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


8:30 am – 9:00 am (Venue: Ceremonial Entrance of the Czernin Palace)


9:00 am – 9:10 am (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)

Invocation (Jewish, Christian, Muslim)



Rabbi David Rosen and Sharon Rosen



Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Orthodox Church of Ukraine 



Sheikh Al Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah, Forum for Peace in Muslim Societies, Abu Dhabi

Video recording of the session


1. Opening Speeches  

9:10 am – 10:10 am (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic 



Fiona Bruce MP, British Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom  of Religion or Belief, and Chair of IRFBA



Lord David Alton of Liverpool, Independent Member of the UK House of Lords  



Nazila Ghanea, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief 


Ambassador Robert Řehák, Special Envoy for Holocaust, Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion

Video recording of the session


Coffee Break

10:10 am – 10:30 am


2. Misuse of Religion for Political Purposes and Building Resilience

10:30 am – 12:00 pm (Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



The Central European region suffered from the systematic suppression of religious freedoms under Communist rule. This panel reflected on the region’s experience and considered whether and how the lessons learned from that period can be applied to the present.


 Jan Šnaidauf, Director of Foreign Policy Analyses and Planning Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic


Professor Tomáš Halík, Charles University, Czech Republic 

Telo Tulku Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist Spiritual Leader, Tibet

Natallia Vasilevich, Theologian, Activist, Moderator of Christian Vision, Belarus 

           * This panel was dedicated to Bishop Alvarez

Video recording of the session



12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (Venue: Gallery of the Czernin Palace)


3. 1. Youth FoRB Track

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



Young FORB champions from different parts of the world and with different religious background shared their personal experience working on practical projects to advance FORB for all. Expected outcomes included sharing of lessons learned between panelists and the audience, forming a network of young FORB champions, and gaining support for the projects presented.


   Merv Thomas, IRFBA Council of Experts, Founding President of CSW 

   Nguyen Dihn Thang, IRFBA Council of Experts, Boat People SOS 

   Sharon Rosen, Search For Common Ground, Israel


   Jordan Smith, Boat People SOS, Scotland

  Youth Speakers:

   Percy Ngyuen, Vietnam

   Marcella Bordon, Chile

   Uswatun Hasanah, Indonesia

  Dalia Goodhardt, Israel

Paing Hset, Myanmar

Mohammed Hussen Hassen, Ethiopia

      * This panel was dedicated to Yahaya Sharif-Aminu


3.2. National Statements, Contributions and Voluntary Pledges

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm (Venue: Blue Hall of the Czernin Palace)

During the conference, the Heads of Delegations were invited to make and record pledges on behalf of their respective country in support of Freedom of Religion or Belief and proposed new ideas and concrete steps that can be taken. 

Video recordings:

National Statement of Albania: 

National Statement of Armenia: 

National Statement of Australia: 

National Statement of Canada:  

National Statement of Croatia: 

National Statement of Greece: 

National Statement of Hungary: 

National Statement of Kosovo: 

National Statement of Lithuania 

National Statement of Poland 

National Statement of Sovereign order of Malta: 

National Statement of Slovakia: 


4. Youth Religiously Diverse Football Panel and Exhibition Match





Panel discussion and religiously diverse exhibition football match at the Great Strahov Stadium was organized by Czech MFA, US State Department, Football for Peace, and the leading Czech football team "AC Sparta Prague" and presented different perspectives of football players with diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds. The objective of this event was to highlight how sports and youth engagement can build interreligious and cross-cultural communities that encourage a shared culture of respect. The participants were accomplished foreign and domestic football players, accompanied by local youth. The Great Strahov Stadium is a historical stadium from communist times with capacity of 250,000 spectators. Lead: Carter Allen, Special Assistant, Department of State, Office of International Religious Freedom; Ambassador Rudolf Hykl, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic

      * This panel and exhibition match was dedicated to Le Tung Van, Y Yich and Pum Bya

Video recording of the session: 

   4.1. Youth Religiously Diverse Football Panel Discussion 

   2:00 pm – 2:30 pm  (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



   Steven Caulker from Tottenham, former professional football player of the British Premier League

   Oumar Niasse from Everton, former professional football player of the British Premier League

    Jeff Mostyn, AFC Bournemouth Chairman

    Costa Nhamoines, former captain of AC Sparta Praha


    4.2. Youth Religiously Diverse Football Exhibition Match  

   3:00 pm – 4:45 pm  (Venue: Great Strahov Stadium)






 The exhibition football match, which was closed to public, took place at the Great Strahov Stadium and in addition to the panel discussion participants saw former Sparta players David Lafata and Bořek Dočekal, Czech football legends Jan Fiala and Antonín Panenka, as well as younger players of Sparta. Personalities of Czech culture such as actors Jakub Kohák, Roman Skamene, moderator and producer Petr Salava and singer Stanislav Hložek participated in the mach, as well.


Side event: Special IRF Roundtable “Live from the Ministerial”, Tuesday Nov 28, 3:30pm-5:00pm (Venue: Zoom)
Concept: IRF Secretariat convened a special International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable meeting in Prague. This was a virtual meeting on Zoom, and all were welcome to participate. The IRF Roundtable is an informal space where NGOs, individuals, and government officials from all faiths and beliefs gather, share information and stories of religious persecution, and take multi-faith actions to advocate for and build religious freedom for all. This model has proven it is possible for people of all faiths and beliefs to engage each other across their deepest differences and take actions together, as equal citizens. The practical results: mutual respect, trust, and reliance between faith and belief communities, and between these communities and governments. 


Side event: Freedom of Religion or Belief: Lessons from English Primary Schools, Tuesday Nov 28, 5:00pm - 6pm (Venue: Zoom)
Concept: Are you a teacher, educator, researcher, charity worker or policy maker interested in freedom of religion or belief? This free online session launched the project findings and recommendations from a Culham St Gabriel’s grant funded project. This small-scale action research project was designed to promote the understanding of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) principles by children in primary schools in England. Four primary schools from across England were recruited (one in Plymouth, one in London, one in Leicestershire and one in Cheshire) to work with a team from Culham St Gabriel’s Trust. Come along to this free online seminar to learn more about the project aims, the interventions that took place, its findings, and recommendations for teachers, senior leaders, and policy makers.


5. IRFBA Representatives Meeting at the British Ambassador’s Residence

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

“English tea at five” for Heads of Delegations and IRFBA Representatives with remarks by IRFBA leadership was hosted by the British Ambassador


6. Evening Session at the US Ambassador’s Residence 

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm 

Evening Session with remarks by IRFBA leadership was hosted by the US Government.




Wednesday, November 29, 2023


8:30 am – 9:00 am (Venue: Ceremonial Entrance of the Czernin Palace)


9:00 am – 9:10 am (Venue: Main Hall)



Telo Tulku Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist Spiritual Leader



Diane Alai and Bani Dugal, Representing Baha´i religion

Video recording from the session:


7. Religious Life under Digital Surveillance

9:10 am – 10:40 am (Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



Technology can be used as an instrument for repression, including through unlawful or arbitrary surveillance. In addition to considering the impact of digital surveillance on religious or belief minorities, the panel also focused on the issue of growing digital persecution.


Nury Turkel, Senior Legal Fellow at Notre Dame Law School and Commissioner at US Commission on International Religious Freedom


Professor John Lennox, Oxford University, Great Britain

Rahima Mahmut, Uyghur Eyewitness, China

Professor Charles Burton, MLI Senior Fellow, Canada

      * This panel was dedicated to Gulshan Abbas

Video recording of the session:


Coffee Break

10:40 am – 10:50 am


8. Technology and Corporations: How Social Media Platforms and Artificial Intelligence Can Protect FoRB

10:50 am – 11:30 am (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



This session focused on social media, artificial intelligence, and corporate responsibility for the protection of FoRB. It reviewed considerations and strategies for technology firms' duties, abilities, and incentives to protect FoRB in theocratic, communist, and even democratic environments. It explored the use of social media platforms and AI for FoRB suppression and encouraged governments and companies to work cooperatively and constructively to respect human dignity and protect liberty of conscience for everyone.

   Simran Stuelpnagel, Vice Chair, IRF Secretariat

   Harbir Bhatia, CEO, Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce

   Robert Beringer, Founder & CEO, EOR – Electronic On Ramp 

   Kasey Barr, Ph.D., Fellow at the Program for Democratic Resilience and Development (PDRD), Reichman University

   Egle Markeviciute, Public Affairs Specialist and the Head of Digital & Innovation Policy, Lithuania 

      * This panel was dedicated to Mubarak Bala

Video recording of the session:


Side event: A Path Forward to Peace and Stability in Asia and the World: The Vision of the Dalai Lama, Wednesday Nov. 29 from 11:00am-12:15pm (Venue: Fortna Covent, Hradčanské nám. 3/184, Prague)
Concept: The transformative power of Buddhism and the beneficial cultural influence that Tibet has historically exerted over Inner Asia, India, China, and Russia holds the realistic potential to contribute to peace and stability in a region increasingly marked by tensions. Thus, the strategic significance of the Dalai Lama‘s conceptual contribution for a peaceful future in Asia and the world is closely linked to the fate of the Tibet and the preservation of its cultural heritage. Opening remarks by US Special coordinator for Tibetan issues Uzra Zeya and Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Conviction of the Netherlands Bea ten Tusscher.


9. Donors Session

11:30 am – 12:10 pm (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



This practical session aimed to raise awareness of the need for a holistic approach, partnerships, and youth engagement. It showed how philanthropy empowers constructive engagement focused on practical outcomes on the need for cooperative engagement across our deepest differences, public-private partnerships that build FoRB from the ground up, and education that equips young people to get involved in this work. The speakers offered the private corporate perspective related to philanthropy as investment (rather than charity), brought private foundations into the picture, and modeled donor collaboratives that empowered grantee collaboratives on the ground.


   William Christopher Stewart, Chief Grants Officer, Templeton Religion Trust


   Jean Sung, Corporate Philanthropy Advisor 

   Tina Ramirez, Founder and President, Hardwired Global

   Matius Ho, Executive Director, Leimena Institute 

   Wade Kusack, Founder and CEO, Love Your Neighbor Community 

   Brian Grim, Ph.D., President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation 

      * This panel was dedicated to Pastor Wang Yi

Video recording of the session:



12:10 pm – 1:00 pm (Venue: Gallery of the Czernin Palace)


10. Red Wednesday at the Charles University

1:30 pm – 5:00 pm (Venue: Charles University in Prague)

International conference within Red Wednesday at the Charles University in Prague on the topic of Freedom of Religion in Public Space. More details:

   1:30 pm Beginning of the Conference

   Jan Kuklík, Vice-Rector for Academic Appointments of Charles University

   Eduard Hulicius, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic  

   Ondřej Chrást, Deputy Minister for Culture of the Czech Republic  

   Stanislav Přibyl, Czech Bishops’ Conference 

   Petr Jan Vinš, Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic 

   Michael Pelíšek, Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic 

   1:45-3:10 pm I. panel: What Place Does the Religious Freedom Have Among Human Rights?

   Fiona Bruce, Member of UK Parliament, UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Chair of International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA)

   Marcela Szymanski, Representative of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Council of Experts of the IRFBA, Center for Shared Civilizational Values working group at the G20

   Rabbi David Rosen, Special Advisor to the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi

   José Luis Bazán, Secretary of the COMECE Commission on Migration and Asylum and Legal Adviser for Migration & Asylum and for International Religious Freedom

   3:10-3:25 pm Coffee Break

   3:25-4:50 pm II. panel: How to Get Freedom of Religion Into Public Discussion?

   Jan Olbrycht, Member of European Parliament

   Paul Marshall, Senior Fellow at Religious Freedom Institute and Hudson Institute, and Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom at Baylor University Canon Chris Sugden, Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life

   Eva Saenz Diez, Researcher on Education in the Arab world and Freedom of Religion and Belief in Arab and Muslim countries, Catholic University of Louvain

   4:50-5:00 Closing Remarks

   Michael Benhamou, Research Associate of Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES) and Executive Director of OPEWI – Europe’s War Institute

   Pavel Svoboda, Chairman of Administrative Board of Institute for Christian Democratic Politics (IKDP) and Former Member of European Parliament

   5:00 pm End of Conference (5:00-5:45 pm Refreshments)

Video recording from Red Wednesday conference:  International Conference "Freedom of Religion in Public Space" - Red Wednesday 2023 - YouTube  

Side event: 6:00-6:30 pm Jewish-Christian Prayer, Great Auditorium of Carolinum, Charles University Prague

Side event: 6:45-7:30 pm Procession around Buildings Lit Up in Red, route: Carolinum – Church of St. Nicholas at the Old Town Square – Old-New Synagogue – Church of St. Giles

Side event: Protecting Culture, Identity, and Heritage:  Visions of Ukraine, PRC, and the Yezidi community (co-hosted by Canada and U.S.), November 29 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. (Venue: American Center, Prague)
Concept: Authoritarian governments and violent extremists have increasingly used cultural erasure, the purposeful destruction of identity and memory, as well as destruction of physical religious and cultural heritage sites, as a tool to advance their control over various populaces.  This cultural erasure, heritage destruction, and attempt to eradicate ethnic and religious communities are inextricably linked.  Key examples include Tibetans and Uyghurs in the People’s Republic China, the Yezidis in Iraq, and Ukrainians facing Russian aggression.  The objective of the side event was to raise awareness of these abuses, both tangible and intangible, situating each within the broad trend.  It further provided suggestions for how the international community can best respond and take action to prevent such destruction, including through documentation for possible prosecution, and to help safeguard the loss of culture.  Opening Remarks by U.S. Undersecretary Uzra Zeya. 

      * This session was dedicated to Pastor Lorenzo


11. Evening Cultural Program 

11.1. Guided City Tour 

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

Guided City tour organized by the Ministerial (meeting at 5:00 pm in front of the main entrance to the Historical Building of the Charles University Prague called Karolinum, Ovocný trh 3, Prague 1) 

Hybrid side event: Religious Freedom in Cuba and Nicaragua, November 29, 5:15–6:45pm (Venue: Langhans Centre and Café, Vodičkova 707/37 Praha 1)
Concept: The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) held a side event in partnership with People in Need about the FORB situation in Cuba and Nicaragua. In the framework of the Ministerial Conference, shared first-hand knowledge and updated information on the conditions and violations of religious rights in Cuba and Nicaragua through the presentation of report findings. 


11.2. Dinner Cruise & Award Ceremony Honoring Victims of Religious Persecution 

7:00 pm – 9:30 pm 

      * This dinner was dedicated to Shamil Khakimov


11.3. Red Wednesday Concert 

7:45 pm (Venue: Church of St. Jiljí - entrance from Husova Street, Prague 1) 
The concert was organized by the Czech Bishops' Conference, the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Federation of Jewish Communities in cooperation with Charita Czech Republic. The financial contributions helped to reduce the costs of school fees at Christian schools in Lebanon by installing solar panels and wastewater treatment systems.  Performing: AFFETTO VOCAL EXPERIMENTAL ENSEMBLE: Jan Mikušek – countertenor, Marek Olbrzymek – tenor, Vladimír Richter – tenor, Adam Born – bass, Martin Jakubíček – organ. More details: 


Thursday, November 30, 2023

Registration for Roundtables

8:00 am – 9:00 am  (Venue: Ceremonial Entrance of the Czernin Palace)



9:00 am – 9:10 am (Venue: Main Hall)

Video recording from the session



Rabbi Michael Dushinsky 

12. MENA Region Roundtable

9:10 am – 10:30 am (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



Roundtable discussion on experiences and best practices related to building resilience in the MENA Region. 


   Elie Al Hindy, Adyan Foundation, Lebanon


   Sheikh Al Mahfoudh Bin Bayyah, SG of the Forum for Peace in Muslim Societies, Abu Dhabi

   Professor Nayla Tabbara, IRFBA Council of Experts, President Adyan Foundation, Lebanon

   Dr. Salah Ali, General Coordinator of Iraq Religious Freedom and Anti-discrimination Roundtable

   Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Executive Director of Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers

      * This roundtable was dedicated to Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet

Video recording from the session:


Side event: Addressing Online Hate in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) (co-hosted by OSCE/ODIHR and U.S.), Thursday Nov. 30 from 9-10 a.m. (Venue: American Center, Prague)
Concept: Antisemitic, anti-Muslim, and xenophobic online content spreads through text, images, video, and audio in overt and coded ways through algorithmic amplification, allowing networks of hatred to become increasingly emboldened. As misinformation spreads, there is a need for all to continuously build critical thinking skills and resilience, so that they do not succumb to the pitfalls of fake and hateful content.  Bearing these profound shifts in mind, this side event aimed to: (1) note existing challenges in automated systems and algorithmic amplification, (2) explain the application of generative AI in relation to hateful online content, (3) unpack the implications of AI in relation to antisemitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and xenophobia online, (4) highlight strategies that can mitigate risks posed by automated systems, algorithmic amplification, and generative AI.


Coffee Break

10:30 am – 10:45 am


13. Central European FoRB Roundtable

10:45 am – 12:15 pm (Venue: Main Mall of the Czernin Palace)



This roundtable focused on freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) in the Central European context. Two main themes were explored. First, the roundtable considered the Central European experiences with the struggle for freedom, with a special regard for FoRB and human dignity. These experiences were reflected upon and critically assessed in order to provide people living in the contexts of authoritarian regimes with means to fight for their religious and political freedom. While creating a parallel society certainly represents one such means, other ways were also be explored. The second theme discussed the dynamic between the claimed religious freedom and the various obstacles certain faith communities face in actual life. The speakers in the session included former dissidents, academics, and journalists.

   Pavol Bargár, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic 

   Alojz Peterle, Prime Minister of the first democratically elected Slovenian Government (1990-1992), Slovenia 

   Ján Figel, IRFBA Council of Experts, Former EU Commissioner and Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside the EU, Slovakia

   Ewelina U. Ochab, Lawyer, Human Rights Advocate, IRFBA Expert

   Gábor Dániel Nagy, Associate Professor at the University of Szeged University of Szeged, Hungary

   Bartosz Bartosik, Wiez, Poland

      * This roundtable was dedicated to Valentina Baranovskaya

Video recording from the session: 

Side event: Wolf at the Door: Challenges to International Norms on Freedom of Expression/Freedom of Religion or Belief, Thursday Nov. 30 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. (Venue: American Center, Prague)
Recent UNHRC, UNGA, and UNSC resolutions, interventions and discussions have provided alternative language and frameworks for addressing religious hatred, hate speech, and violent extremism and promoting moderation or tolerance that chip away at longstanding commitments to human rights and democratic norms, especially freedom of expression (FOE) and freedom of religion or belief (FORB), in multilateral spaces. These resolutions have arisen in response to demonstrations and expressions of hate, including the burning of holy books. This forum brought together key experts and partner countries to dive deeper into how best to integrate the protection of FOE and FORB and other fundamental freedoms.



12:15 pm – 1:15 pm (Venue: Gallery of the Czernin Palace)


14. Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue: Freedom of Religion and Women's Rights

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)

The conference organized by the Institute of International Relations Prague was dedicated to women's rights, and how they can be articulated with freedom of religion. The goal of intercultural and interfaith dialogue was to open channels of discussion in order to raise a greater awareness of the diversity, mutual recognition, equality, and freedom of all human beings. We want to build bridges to allow peaceful coexistence and fraternity in a time of crisis and conflict. One year ago, the revolt of Iranian women put the issue of women's rights back at the heart of political and societal debates regarding the Middle East and North Africa. Women's rights are often perceived as conflicting with religious values and religious institutions. But this is not a fatal problem, as everyone can benefit from more freedom and empowerment. Religious minorities in particular are interested in such issues as equality of rights and respect for individual freedom. Yet, women from these minorities are particularly vulnerable to violence, discrimination, and unequal access to resources. The expert community, policymakers, diplomats, and civil society can contribute to improving the living conditions of everyone by opening channels of communication towards an integration of women's rights and the rights of religious minorities. Religious actors and religious organizations have an important role to play in this dialogue. In the long run, freedom of belief benefits everyone, men and women, and members of religious minorities and majorities alike. Authoritarian regimes prioritize targeting the most vulnerable categories of people, as we can see with the forced sterilization of Uyghur women. Conversely, the more a society is open and respectful of its own diversity, the stronger and richer it becomes, thanks to the various inputs of its individuals. Women's rights and freedom of belief are both inalienable parts of human rights. The conference was hosted by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the International Religious Freedom of Belief Alliance and the Anna Lindh Foundation. 

Registration for public coming to the Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue: Freedom of Religion and Women's Rights
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (Venue: Ceremonial Entrance)
1:00 pm – 1:15 pm 

   Mats Braun, Director, Institute of International Relations Prague

   Azadeh Kian-Thiébaut, Director, Professor, Center for Gender and Feminist Studies, University Paris Cité

   Eduard Hulicius, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic

Keynote Speech
1:15 pm – 2:15 pm 



   Rola El-Husseini, Associate Professor, Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University

Coffee Break
2:15 pm – 2:30 pm 

Panel Discussion: Freedom of Religion and Women's Rights 
2:30 pm – 3:45 pm (Venue: Main Hall of the Czernin Palace)



Women from religious minorities are particularly vulnerable to state repression and societal pressure. In addition, religious freedom can at time clash with women right. How to find a way to guarantee equality of all citizens, without distinction of gender or faith?


   Alimatul Qibtiyah, Commissioner, The National Commission on Violence against Women; Professor, UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta

   Mariz Tadros, Professor, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; Director, CREID

   Elisa Chavez, Human Rights Adviser, Stefanus Alliance International

Closing Speech  
3:45 pm – 4:00 pm

Video recording of the session: 

Video recording of the panel discussion: 


15. Strategic Discussion on Next Steps  

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm (Venue: Music Hall of the Czernin Palace)

Short presentations (1-3 min.) of strategic plans to produce better outcomes that can be executed between now and the next ministerial conference in 2024.

   Dan Nadel, Director and Principal Deputy to the Ambassador at Large, Office of International Religious Freedom, US Department of State

   Chairs of the panels and round tables 

   Fiona Bruce, IRFBA Chair, Member of Parliament

   Ambassador Sam Brownback, Co-Chair, IRF Summit

   Greg Mitchell, IRF Secretariat 

   Knox Thames, Human Rights Lawyer, Advocate, and Author

      * This discussion was dedicated to Hannah Abdirahman Abdimalik



End of the Ministerial


Contact Details

Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust, Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Loretánská Str. 6, 118 00 Praha 1

E-mail:, Tel.: +420 224 183 251

Mrs. Petra Kaplanová, Coordinator and Administrative Support

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Loretánská Str. 6, 118 00 Praha 1

Ambassador Robert Řehák, Special Envoy for Holocaust, Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion


Addresses of the Venues

Czernin Palace, Loretánské náměstí 5, Prague 1

Charles University in Prague, Ovocný trh 560/5, Prague 1

Great Strahov Stadium, Vaníčkova 100/6, Praha 6  (Velký strahovský stadion)

American Center, Tržiště 13, Prague 1 (1st Floor, right next door to U.S. Embassy Prague)


The International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance is a network of like-minded countries fully committed to advancing freedom of religion or belief around the world. Alliance members must fully commit to the Declaration of Principles. The Declaration 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. The Alliance is predicated on the idea more must be done to protect members of religious minority groups and combat discrimination and persecution based on religion or belief. The Alliance brings together senior government representatives to discuss actions their nations can take together to promote respect for freedom of religion or belief and protect members of religious minority groups worldwide. Currently 37 countries have joined the Alliance: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Estonia, The Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. There are also five IRFBA friends: Canada, Guyana, Japan, South Korea, and Sweden. There are three IRFBA observers: Sovereign Order of Malta, Taiwan, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


In cooperation with

The Institute of International Relations Prague (IIR) is an independent public research institution that conducts excellent academic research in the larger field of international relations. It is established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

IRF Secretariat is an international non-governmental organization that was established to lead the way to better religious freedom outcomes by institutionalizing a new approach centered on cooperative engagement (that respects/protects each other’s human dignity and liberty of conscience) and coordination of actions across the “bottom up” of civil society sectors and the “top down” networks of governments to increase impact. It convenes the IRF Roundtable in Washington, DC, and is currently building a global infrastructure to serve the religious freedom movement. This includes convening a global series of events that catalyze the establishment of regional secretariats, which will create and coordinate new regional, national, and local roundtables.

Czech Bishops’ Conference, established by the Apostolic See, is an official assembly of bishops of the Czech Republic who jointly exercise certain pastoral functions for the Christian faithful of their territory in order to promote the greater good which the Church offers to humanity, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of time and place, according to the norm of law.

The Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic is an organization uniting 16 Christian churches and the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic. Together with the Czech Bishops’ Conference, it is an important representative of the interests of Christians in relation to the state. It coordinates the clerical service in the army, police, prison service, hospitals, and strives to work on a growing ecumenical understanding as well as on practical cooperation between Christians of different faiths.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic serves as an umbrella organization for Jewish Communities and other Jewish institutions in the country. Currently there are ten official Jewish Communities in Bohemia and Moravia. There is a number of various Jewish “secular” organizations which fall under the auspices of the Federation, e.g. Terezín Initiative, gathering of Czech Holocaust survivors, Union of Jewish Youth, sporting club Hakoach, etc.

The Institute for Christian-Democratic Politics is a think tank founded in 2016. Its goal is to present the values on which European civilization has grown by contemporary means and to bring the current perspectives of Christian-democratic politics into the public debate. The institute aims to be an important platform for middle-right partners.

Templeton Religion Trust is a global philanthropy established by Sir John Templeton operating from its headquarters in The Bahamas.  It supports a wide variety of efforts to establish and strengthen the conditions that enable constructive, mutually enriching engagement across deep differences in the context of religion, among persons of all faiths and none, such as freedom of conscience, cross-cultural religious literacy, and character strengths such as humility, empathy, and patience.

The Red Wednesday is a campaign with the motto “Make a stand for faith and freedom”. It aims at promoting faith and tolerance within society and encouraging solidarity with victims of persecution. Its attribute is red light – a symbol of the blood of those who suffer for the faith and a symbol of hope in the darkness.