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

Ms. Ghanea is a prominent figure in the field of human rights. As the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, her mandate is focused on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief based on the standards of international law concerning human rights.

Nazila Ghanea, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights participant of the 2023 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit.
Nazila Ghanea, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights participant of the 2023 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit.

Currently, there is an urgent debate occurring at the United Nations to “discuss the alarming rise in premeditated and public acts of religious hatred as manifested by the recurrent desecration of the Holy Quran in some European and other countries.” Ms. Ghanea has been vocal about addressing this issue and has called on all actors involved to take necessary measures to prevent such acts.


In her work, Ms. Ghanea has described the meaning of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says that we all have the right to our own beliefs, to have a religion, to have no religion, or to change it. This right is a fundamental aspect of human dignity, and it cannot be taken away from anyone.


Moreover, Ms. Ghanea has called attention to specific human rights issues and their effects on certain communities whose access to the law has been trampled. She has highlighted the need for governments to respect and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief for all individuals and communities, regardless of their background or beliefs.


When describing the actors currently involved in this fight for the protection of religious liberty, Ghanea called on more people to get involved. She emphasized that the responsibility to protect religious freedom is not just on the shoulders of governments or international organizations, but it is also the responsibility of civil society, including religious communities, NGOs, and individuals who must all work together to promote and protect this fundamental human right.


In conclusion, Ms. Nazila Ghanea has been a tireless advocate for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. Her work has been instrumental in advancing this important human right and ensuring it is respected and protected for all individuals and communities worldwide.


Nazila Ghanea, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Nazila Ghanea, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms. Nazila Ghanea assumed her mandate as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief on 1 August 2022.


Ms. Ghanea is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Director of the MSc in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. Prior to that, she was Senior Lecturer at the University of London (2000-2006), and she has also previously taught in the People’s Republic of China (1993-1994). She has researched and published widely in international human rights law and served as consultant to numerous agencies.


Though her nearly 30-year career has been rooted in academia, Ms. Ghanea’s academic work has often connected with multilateral practice in international human rights law. She has contributed actively to networks interested in freedom of religion or belief and its interrelationship with other human rights, and advised states and other stakeholders. In her professional activities, she has taken every opportunity to support the promotion and application of principled understandings of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief. She has supervised well over 100 master’s dissertations and doctorates and served on doctoral panels internationally. She has also co-authored a 700-page publication by Oxford University Press that addresses freedom of religion or belief and is focused on the UN record.


Ms. Ghanea’s most recent publications include: Are Religious Minorities Really Minorities? 1.1 Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, 2012; Combatting global religious intolerance: The Implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 16/18, Universal Rights Group, 2014 (with Marc Limon and Hilary Power); Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016 (with Heiner Bielefeldt and Michael Wiener); Nazila Ghanea, Back to Basics in Evaluating Belief, 36.4, Emory International Law Review, 2022; Nazila Ghanea, Piecing the Puzzle, Women and Freedom of Religion or Belief, 20.3 The Review of Faith and International Affairs, 2022


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