Protecting freedom of religion and belief

Three-quarters of the world population lives in countries where freedom of religion and belief is far from assured, like North Korea and Eritrea.

Defining one’s own religious or ideological identity

The Dutch government believes that all individuals should be able to define their own religious or ideological identity. This applies to everyone, including children and women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The Netherlands opposes the restriction of anyone’s rights on the grounds of religious or traditional values.

The Netherlands defends freedom of religion and belief in ways that include the following:

  • the Dutch Human Rights Ambassador discusses freedom of religion and belief in countries like Egypt and Indonesia, where this freedom is threatened;
  • the Netherlands is carrying out a pilot project on freedom of religion, involving intensive activity by Dutch embassies, in 10 countries: Armenia, China, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan and Sudan;
  • the Netherlands is active in international forums in defence of freedom of religion and belief. Within the EU, for example, we push for pressure to be applied in the framework of trade agreements if third countries fail to respect freedom of religion. Dutch efforts have also contributed to the EU’s decision to draft guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief.