The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Posted: 14 Apr 2004

See all articles by Carolyn M. Evans

Carolyn M. Evans

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School


This chapter explores the role of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in promoting religious freedom and tolerance. The first section of the chapter explores the methodology adopted by the Rapporteur to carry out his mandate, in particular the emphasis that is put on long term engagement rather than criticism of governments, and the rise in the use of in situ visits that allow for an indepth examination of particular countries. The second part of the chapter explores three key themes that emerge from the Rapporteur's report: religious extremism, the impact of religion on women, and religious defamation. In each of these areas some criticism is made of the lack of nuance and failure to deal with complexity inherent in the Rapporteur's approach. A more positive development, explored in the third part of the chapter, is the work of the Rapporteur in encouraging the development of a "culture of tolerance" between the world's religions. The two areas that have been the recent focus in developing that culture have been school curricula and inter-faith dialogue. The chapter concludes that the effectiveness of the Rapporteur has been limited by lack of financial and human resources, but that the current Rapporteur has made real, if necessarily modest, progress in the areas of religious freedom and tolerance.

Keywords: freedom, religion, belief, special rapporteur, religious extremism, women, religious defamation

JEL Classification: K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Evans, Carolyn M., The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. THE CHALLENGE OF RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AT THE DAWN OF THE NEW MILLENIUM, Nazila Ghanea, ed., 2004. Available at SSRN:

Carolyn M. Evans (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
613 8344 1102 (Phone)
613 8344 9900 (Fax)

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