Freedom of religion or belief
Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting
2009 Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting : Freedom of Religion or Belief, Hofburg Congress Centre, Vienna, 9-10 July 2009

Among the major meetings organized every year by the OSCE, one of the three Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings (SHDM) was devoted to the implementation of the OSCE commitments on freedom of religion or belief.

Aim of the Meeting

The meeting focused on the following three areas:

  • from commitments to implementation: freedom of religion or belief in the OSCE area;
  • status of religious or belief communities;
  • places of worship.

The Meeting provided an opportunity to discuss in detail the implementation of the well established OSCE commitment on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the progress made since the last SHDM on freedom of religion or belief in 2003. The meeting gathered government officials, OSCE delegations, civil society, regional and international organizations, and was therefore seen as an important forum for discussing cross-cutting issues.

Civil Society Participation

Civil society representatives wee welcome to participate in the Meeting and to take the floor during sessions and to organize side events.

Prior to the Meeting, a Civil Society Roundtable organized by the ODIHR took place on 9 July, from 10:30 to 13:00. The aim of the roundtable was to enable civil society representatives to prepare recommendations to present at the Meeting.

Background information

The Helsinki Document of 1992 (Chapter IV) called for increasing the openness of OSCE activities and expanding the role of NGOs. In particular, in paragraph (15) of Chapter IV the participating States decided during CSCE meetings to facilitate informal discussion meetings between representatives of participating States and of NGOs, and to provide encouragement to NGOs organizing seminars on CSCE-related issues. In line with this decision, NGOs, governments, and other participants are encouraged to organize side meetings on relevant issues of their choice.