Religion, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals

Religion, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals

Since May 2020, Religions for Peace and UN Human Rights have collaborated to pilot the conversation around the “Faith for Rights” framework and the #Faith4Rights Toolkit ( The scope of piloting is being expanded through partnering with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the syllabus for the course “Religion and Sustainable Development”.

Religions for Peace, UN Human Rights, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will conduct a two day online event “Religion, Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals” on 23 and 25 November 2020 at 9:00-11:00am ET.


Since May 2020, Religions for Peace and UN Human Rights have partnered to pilot the conversation around the UN Human Rights “Faith for Rights” framework and the #Faith4Rights Toolkit. The first pilot webinar, titled “Confronting COVID-19 from the Prism of Faith, Gender and Human Rights,” took place on 14 May 2020, the focus of which was the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality and rights of women and girls in the context of faith and religion as well as their leadership role in response to the current crisis. Religions for Peace co-facilitated the webinar with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), within the committee’s “CEDAW Knowledge Hub” initiative. By initiating this dialogue between various representatives from multi-religious faith and human rights communities, both partners aimed to creating a platform for mutual learnings, new insights and the exchange of best practices to ensure the integration of gender-sensitive crisis responses, using the #Faith4Rights toolkit, notably its modules 5, 6 and 16.

In the second pilot, entitled “Keeping the Faith in Times of Hate: The Practical Utility of Human Rights,” the webinar disclosed the harrowing and destructive impact of hate speech and the closely thereto connected acts of violence. It further shed light on the crucial roles of religious leaders and human rights activists within societies in curbing hate speech and incitement to intolerance, discrimination, and violence and encouraging them to spread messages of tolerance, inclusion, and acknowledgement of diversity to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Religions for Peace and UN Human Rights are now expanding the scope of their piloting, bringing the framework and toolkit into the realm of both theory and praxis. Through partnering with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the pilot might be expanded in its credibility, academic rigour, and practical application.

Drs. Jan Jorrit Hasselaar MA, of Vrije Universiteit, has identified several areas in the syllabus for the course “Religion and Sustainable Development” in which to introduce the framework and toolkit and begin an in-depth integration of the human rights work explored in these resources with the sustainable development curriculum of the existing course.

This course introduces the topic of religion and sustainable development. Since 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals have become the umbrella to address key challenges of our times, for example climate change, poverty, inequality, health, and migration and rule of law. In many of these challenges religion plays, or can play, a significant role, e.g. health care in Africa, the worldviews people live by or concepts of hope thematized in religious traditions. This course explores this kind of interactions between religion and Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals are categorized in the sub-themes planet, people, prosperity and peace. The course is interdisciplinary and societal partners are involved, e.g. religious grassroots communities, faith-based organisations, religious institutions, businesses and governments.

The Agenda for the sessions is as follows:

Day One: 23 November 2020 between 15:00 – 17:00 CET, or 9:00-11:00 NY time

Part I: Introduction and Framing – Who are we? Why are we collaborating? {30 minutes}

* Religions for Peace: Introduce organisation as well as participating members
* Ahmed Salisu Garba
* Anantanand Rambachan
* Agnes Abuom

* UNOHCHR: Introduce organisation and the #Faith4Rights Toolkit and explain why we are collaborating
* Nahla Haidar, CEDAW
* Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

* Vrije Universiteit: Introduce the course, how human rights go hand-in-hand with sustainable development,

Part II: Working Group on the Human Rights Implications of Sustainable Development / COVID-19: What are the Challenges arising? Why are they related? How can Faith Actors and Human Rights Advocacy address these issues? {60 minutes}

* What are the most challenging consequences of the COVID-19 crises? How do they particularly affect girls and women?
* What are the areas of action where faith actors have the highest chance to make a difference in addressing hate speech and other challenges?
* What are promising practices in this respect, especially for religious minorities?
* What elements of the #Faith4Rights toolkit could be of practical utility?

Part III: Conclusions, evaluations, etc. {30 minutes}

* Synthesis of discussion
* Discussion of deliverables, expectations

Day Two: 25 November 2020 between 15:00 – 17:00 CET, or 9:00-11:00 NY time

(39th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based
on Religion or Belief, proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981)

Part I: Praxis: Share practical experiences and challenges faced by faith actors in the COVID-19 context {30 minutes}

* Facilitator
* Thiago Alves Pinto (Facilitator)
* Marie Juul Petersen, Danish Institute for Human Rights (Facilitator)

* Speakers
* Rabbi Rosenbluth
* Nazila Ghanea

Part II: Working Group – Discuss the hypothetical case to debate on an epidemic1 in two groups focus on the reprehensible acts and statements by the leaders of A-Religion and B-Religion as well as the order of the Prime Minister of Itneconni. {60 minutes}

Part III: The Opportunities Ahead: Where do we go from here? {30 minutes}

* Synthesis of discussion from the two working groups in plenary
* Regional Webinars for participants to use the #Faith4Rights Toolkit?
* Linking regional and/or national Human Rights
* Officers/offices to Interreligious Councils and IWCCs?
* Introduction to Evaluations which will be sent out after the webinar

Language: The webinar will be conducted in English.

About the Co-Organisers:

Religions for Peace advances common action among the world’s religious communities for a comprehensive, holistic and sustainable peace. The Religions for Peace movement, through its 90 national and 6 regional Interreligious Councils and their Women of Faith Networks and Interreligious Youth Networks, engages in key issues of critical concern, within its six Strategic Goals: Promote peaceful, just & harmonious societies; Advance gender equality; Nurture a sustainable environment; Champion freedom of thought, conscience & religion; Strengthen interreligious education; and Foster multireligious collaboration & global partnerships.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people. The United Nations human rights programme aims to ensure that the protection and enjoyment of human rights is a reality in the lives of all people. UN Human Rights also plays a crucial role in safeguarding the integrity of the three interconnected pillars of the United Nations – peace and security, human rights and development. UN Human Rights provides assistance in the form of technical expertise and capacity development in order to support the implementation of international human rights standards on the ground. It assists governments, which bear the primary responsibility for the protection of human rights, to fulfil their obligations and supports individuals to claim their rights. Moreover, it speaks out objectively on human rights violations.

Helpful Documents:

UN Human Rights (UNOHCHR) and the “Faith for Rights” Framework

UN Human Rights (UNOHCHR) – #Faith4Rights Toolkit – 18 peer-to-peer learning modules

Full report and outlook on “Faith for Rights”

First Pilot:

Second Pilot:

1 Scenario G, available at

We are pleased to cordially invite you to join our webinars on “Religion, Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals”, which will be jointly held by Religions for Peace, UN Human Rights (UNOHCHR), and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on 23 and 25 November2020 at 9:00-11:00am ET. To find your time zone, please click here.


Please register here or by clicking on the following link by 13 November 2020:

You will receive the link to join the Webinars after your registration. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Christopher Zefting at

Since May 2020, Religions for Peace and UN Human Rights have collaborated to pilot the conversation around the “Faith for Rights” framework and the #Faith4Rights Toolkit ( The scope of piloting is being expanded through partnering with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the syllabus for the course “Religion and Sustainable Development”.


Religion, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals