Rabat Declaration underlines the need for international standards to bring all political abuses of religions to a halt

published 23 May 2022 updated 30 May 2022

The participants in the Rabat Global Conference held in Morocco’s capital city from May 11-12 adopted the Declaration reasserting the need to coordinate efforts to build global consensus on setting international rules to eliminate the use of religion in violating human rights. They called on the international community and all governments to support a proposed treaty to ban the political use of religions through the United Nations’ General Assembly.

Held under the title “International Standards to Ban the Political Use of Religions - Comprehensive Protection of Human Rights from All Forms of Extremism”, the conference was attended by leading legislators, officials, diplomats, religious dignitaries and civil society leaders from around the world. The Rabat declaration was unanimously adopted by delegates in which they underlined their commitment to recognise and uphold the values of faith and religion. At the same time, they seek to prevent fierce political and economic interests from manipulating religious teachings to serve harmful agendas.

The event aimed to reflect on ways to boost the initiative launched by the NGO BPUR calling to establish international standards to bring all political abuses of religions to a halt and to enact an International treaty in this regard, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the relevant international charters and treaties, including the Rabat Action Plan on the prohibition of incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence.

Increasing recourse to the use of religions for political purposes resulting in gross violations of human rights

Reaffirming that respect for human rights principles and democracy values have been and remain the fundamental anchor for moderation, equality and coexistence, the adopted Rabat Declaration expresses participants’ “deep concern, in light of the economic, social and environmental crises that the world is witnessing, about the increasing recourse of states and organisations to the use of religions for political purposes that result in gross violations of human rights.”

Participants also reiterated “in our personal and parliamentary capacities, our capacities as representatives of religious and political institutions and civic organizations from all around the world, our support for the global initiative to enact an international treaty to ban the political use of religions”.

They went on to recognise that “the absence of clear international standards is allowing fierce political and economic interests to manipulate religious teachings to serve harmful agendas”.

They added that “the time is now right to adopt international rules to prohibit all forms of discrimination, religious exclusion, and all political uses of religion that undermine equality and freedom of belief and worship”.

All governments must engage in the efforts to enrich the draft treaty and advocate for it

Encouraging governments to get involved in the draft treaty and endorse it, the Declaration recommends the following:

  • Forming a permanent secretariat to conduct intensive advocacy efforts in various countries in order to boost the legal and procedural process leading to the adoption of the treaty at the international level; and to submit a periodic report to all participants on its work.
  • Establishing a global monitor - after the adoption of the treaty - to expose all violations that use religions to violate human rights, by providing verified data to empower governments, organisations and individuals to apply political pressure on those who continue to commit such abuses, and we propose to establish its headquarters in Morocco,
  • Seeking to acquire an Observer status at the United Nations and other regional organisations to intensify efforts aimed at boosting the initiative.

All Education International’s member organisations in Morroco, i.e. the Fédération Autonome de l’Enseignement (FAE), the Syndicat National de l'Enseignement - Confédération Démocratique du Travail (SNE-CDT), the Syndicat National de l'Enseignement - Fédération Démocratique du Travail (SNE-FDT) and the Syndicat National de l'Enseignement Supérieur (SNESUP) also have stated their strong support the Declaration.

The Declaration is also of particular relevance in the case of Education International’s work in Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban refer to religious grounds to ban girls from getting an education and severely restrict their rights throughout Afghan society, even targeting schools and educational institutions to hinder girls' education.

Education International’s Resolution on the place of religion in schools

The Rabat Declaration echoes Education International’s Resolution on the place of religion in schools, which calls upon Education International to:

  • Reaffirm that public education must remain a place for teaching, the transmission of knowledge and the training and exercise of a critical mind;
  • State a position in favour of the teaching of the history of religions, essential for culture, inter-cultural dialogue and the training of the citizen;
  • Support its affiliated trade unions in their struggle against the growing influence of the role of religions in school, expressed in the introduction of courses in religion and the subordination of the content or the very existence of academic disciplines to religious dogmas and discrimination against behaviour not conforming to their standards; and
  • Recognise the role of trade unions in the inter-cultural dialogue, as vectors of recognition of cultural diversity and as bearers of universal values based on respect for the human person whatever he or she may be.