CSW - everyone free to believe

Belief and belonging: Indigenous identity and freedom of religion or belief

7 Dec 2022


The rights of indigenous peoples have received considerable attention from the United Nations (UN) bodies, in human rights treaties and through their respective monitoring mechanisms. Within that framework, however, the right of indigenous peoples to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) has received scant attention. Though recognised by some international treaties and declarations, the intersection between the right to FoRB and the unique vulnerabilities facing indigenous peoples as rights holders is largely unacknowledged. This has led to ambiguity especially in regard to the intersection of the collective right to protect and maintain indigenous cultures with the fundamental rights of the individuals within those cultures. The result has been a growing, predominantly accepted view that collective cultural rights are incompatible with some individual rights, and an either-or approach to the issue, with collective cultural rights taking precedence over the individuals’ rights. 

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We believe no one should suffer discrimination, harassment or persecution because of their beliefs