The U.S. Department of State and Secretary Mike Pompeo hosted the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on July 16-18, 2019, in Washington, DC. The Ministerial is an event organized around Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and brings together leaders from around the world to discuss the challenges facing religious freedom, identify means to address religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, and promote greater respect and preservation of religious liberty for all.
Describing the Ministerial as an event based on mutual respect and not a common approach to theology, Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback opened the Ministerial with the following remarks: “Our effort is to stir actions. We want to see really a global grassroots movement around religious freedom.” “We want to get the various faiths to bind together and to stand for each other’s freedom of religion,” said Brownback.
This year, government representatives from 106 countries participated and nearly 900 leaders of religious or civil society groups were in attendance at the largest religious freedom and human rights conference ever organized by the U.S. Department of State. The event focused on reaffirming international commitments to promote religious freedom and produce real, positive change.
Alongside the main event hosted inside the U.S. Department of State, a full agenda of Ministerial Side Events were put up by non-profit organizations that participate in the International Religious Freedom Roundtable. The International Union of Bilateral Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IUBCCI) was one of them, holding a side event on “Advancing Stability and Economic Development Through Religious Freedom” at the L. Ron Hubbard Landmark in Washington, DC.
In attendance were 75 guests from Ambassadors, diplomats, U.S. federal government officials, foreign government representatives to religious leaders and representatives of other international organizations. They all engaged in conversation to identify how religious freedom will help achieve sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all.
President of IUBCCI, Mr. Manuel Oancia opened the event by welcoming the distinguished guests and gave remarks on IUBCCI’s mission to promote cultural understanding between nations so that to achieve a global economic harmony. He explained why is so important that every business and international organization advocate for human rights and religious freedom, challenge racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and hatred in our own society today. Then, Mr. Oancia thanked Ms. Sharyn Runyon, the President of the L. Ron Hubbard Foundation for hosting the event at the historic landmark in Washington, DC.
Top officials from U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, foreign governments and religious leaders spoke. Master of ceremonies and main speaker was Mr. Greg Mitchell, the Co-Chair of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable, who spoke about the economic impact of religious freedom and the IRF roundtable model, encouraging the diplomats present to adopt it in their countries. He also introduced the attendees to a data presentation on how religious freedom helps businesses and economies grow by Dr. Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.
Religious leaders like His Holiness Hajji Dede Baba Edmond Brahimaj, leader of the Religious Order of the Bektashi and Sheikh Anis Khalil Moughawech, President of the Druze Supreme Majis of the Western Hemisphere, participated in the event and engaged in the conversations on the topic.
At the conclusion of the program, guests were invited to an exclusive outdoor seafood & wine reception.