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St Mary's Sponsors Major New York Conference on Religious Freedom

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St Mary’s University, Twickenham London is supporting a major international conference in New York this week which will bring together more than 100 parliamentarians from almost 50 countries to discuss ways to advance freedom of religion or belief. The CONFERENCE, Multinational Efforts to Promote Freedom of Religion or Belief: Joint Action for the Common Good, runs from Thursday 17th September – Saturday 19th September 2015. Speakers include Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Secretary General; Ivan Šimonović, United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights; and Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace, United States. St Mary’s Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell will deliver an address to the UK Permanent Mission to the United Nation as part of the conference. The delegates will gather alongside the UN General Assembly which coincides with the Pope’s visit to the US. Mr Campbell said, “I’m proud that St Mary’s University is able to support such an important initiative to further international religious freedom, which is an increasingly important issue across the world. From the battlefields in the Middle East to questions of identity within Europe, it is imperative that real efforts are made to allow everyone to practice their faith free of persecution and fear. I’m delighted St Mary’s is working with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation amongst others and I am looking forward to working together in the future.” IPP Steering Group member Baroness Elizabeth Berridge commented, “There is a global crisis for freedom of religion or belief. An international problem requires an international response. Our meetings in New York will bring together parliamentarians, diplomats, civil society and religious leaders to devise strategies to defend this fundamental right.  Collective action is needed now more than ever.” The conference is a joint venture by the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) and the German political foundation Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). The IPPFoRB is an alliance of parliamentarians committed to advancing religious freedom for all, as defined by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It launched last year in response to the rising crisis of religious or belief based persecution, both by terrorist groups and authoritarian governments. St Mary’s Project Manager for IPPFoRB Megan Russell will also be co-authoring the post conference report.
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