Whereas the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is protected through international law as defined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Whereas reports by non-governmental organizations, such as Freedom House and government agencies such as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom indicate, religious freedom and related human rights in the Asia Pacific region continue to deteriorate, and threaten regional security and stability.
Whereas the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) and the Inter-Governmental Contact Group for Freedom Religion or Belief are building and strengthening global efforts to promote this fundamental freedom.
Whereas research by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation indicates that the advancement of freedom of religion or belief has a direct correlation with the advancement of democracy, basic human rights, economic prosperity, and thriving civil societies.
Whereas restrictions on freedom of religion or belief have directly contributed to forced immigration and increased number of refugees fleeing government sponsored or tolerated persecution, and subsequently created humanitarian crises in the Asia Pacific region.
Whereas religious freedom advocates from both government and non-governmental sectors and religious leaders representing 27 countries gathered in Taiwan, a model for the Asia Pacific region in promoting human rights and freedom of religion or belief, to create mechanisms and partnerships and collectively commit to advancing freedom of religion or belief and related human rights in the Asia Pacific.
Thus, we the signed declare a commitment to establish and reinforce existing networks of advocates dedicated to promoting freedom of religion or belief in their respective countries and in the Asia Pacific region, including the creation of both governmental and non-governmental mechanisms to promote freedom of religion or belief and related human rights in our respective communities and countries as a whole.
Further declare a commitment to identify opportunities for partnerships with faith-based institutions, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and governments in order to build strategic relationships to promote freedom of religion or belief in the Asia Pacific region.
Further declare a commitment to coordinate and expand advocacy efforts to advance freedom of religion or belief in the Asia Pacific region, including through diplomatic engagement among governments, interfaith cooperation among religious leaders, and collaboration between non-governmental organizations and academic institutions.
Further declare the need to deepen political, cultural, and educational institutions and dialogue dedicated to fostering religious pluralism and tolerance.
Further declare a commitment to respond to immigration and refugee issues, including providing safe-haven and human services for individuals and communities affected by restrictions and violations of religious freedom and related human rights.
Further declare a commitment to an awareness of the socio-economic benefits of advancing freedom of religion or belief and an inherent pledge to apply and disseminate this knowledge in our respective communities and countries and throughout the Asia Pacific region.
Further declare a commitment to publicly condemn any act of intolerance, discrimination, persecution, or violence perpetrated in the name of religion, and to protecting the rights of religious minorities or other religious communities restricted from teaching, practicing, worshiping or observing their religious traditions.
Further declare that freedom of thought, conscience and religion is an inalienable human right, encompassing the right to hold or not to hold any faith or belief, to change belief, and to be free from coercion to adopt a different belief, and that to be fully enjoyed other incorporated rights must also be respected, such as the freedoms of expression, assembly, education, and movement.
Further declare the need to review legislation and laws related to religious belief and expression that limit the freedom of conscience and expression of all citizens, such as blasphemy laws.
Therefore, the signers of the Taiwan Declaration urge all governments, religious institutions, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations to actively advance freedom of religion or belief by adopting and fully implementing commitments and laws to upholding freedom of religion or belief in their respective communities and countries.