– Check against delivery –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The EU and its Member States would first extend our condolences to the victims and their families, and the government and people of New Zealand. We condemn in the strongest terms the attack that targeted the Friday prayers, a sacred moment for Muslim believers. As High Representative Federica Mogherini stated: "We stand in full solidarity with the people and authorities of New Zealand. Attacks on places of worship are attacks on all of us who value diversity and freedom of religion and expression".
It is in that spirit of solidarity that we gather together here today – to make plain our opposition to those who sow hatred against those practising their religion or beliefs and our determination to do more to make sure that such hatred no longer finds its articulation in terrible acts of terrorism.
As the main sponsor of the annual resolution on "Freedom of Religion or Belief" in New York and Geneva, the EU has consistently striven to ensure that these important freedoms are recognised and protected by the international community.
To recall the EU's words when introducing the FORB resolution last year – promoting and protecting the freedom of religion or belief as a universal human right and eliminating all forms of discrimination, including those on the basis of religion or belief are key priorities of the European Union’s human rights policy. That resolution underscores the deep concern felt by the international community at rising discrimination, violence and intolerance directed against religious communities. The EU has also sought to bring a focus to bear on the major challenges faced by persons belonging to faith communities or minorities across the world, including in Europe.
We extend our thanks to the main sponsors of the resolution adopted today for their efforts to accommodate some of the proposals that we put forward. Sensitive issues do require careful, transparent and inclusive consideration and the process of deliberations on the draft resolution was somewhat compressed. It is also important to recall that when atrocities occur – which they do with heart-rending frequency – it is not always possible for the UN to articulate its collective shock and outrage through a resolution. That should never be read as a signal that the international community is turning its face away from those who have suffered. This resolution is a reminder that we should strengthen our efforts to tackle the global challenges of violent extremism and hatred as well as to combat terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.
Thank you Mr Chair.
* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.