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Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

Purpose of mandate

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. The mandate holder has been invited to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles.

About the mandate

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights appointed further to resolution 1986/20 a “Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance”. In 2000, the Commission on Human Rights decided to change the mandate title to “Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief”, which was subsequently endorsed by ECOSOC decision 2000/261 and welcomed by General Assembly resolution 55/97. On 21 March 2019, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution A/HRC/RES/40/10, which included an extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years.

Learn more about the mandate

Current mandate holder


Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief © UN Photo/Amanda VoisardOn 1 November 2016, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed assumed his mandate as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. He is Deputy Director of the Essex Human Rights Centre. He was the first Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the termination of the previous Commission on Human Rights mandate in 2002. A career diplomat, he has twice held the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives. He led Maldives' efforts to embrace international human rights standards between 2003 and 2011. Read Mr. Ahmed Shaheed’s full biography and CV.

Key documents

Rapporteur's Digest on freedom of religion or belief

Rapporteur's Digest on freedom of religion or beliefThis document compiles excerpts of the reports from 1986 to 2011 arranged by topics of the Special Rapporteur's framework for communications
View document (PDF)



Latest thematic reports

Safeguarding freedom of religion or belief for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: This report, submitted at the 75th session (2020) of the General Assembly, focuses on religious or belief minorities as a target group who are at risk of ‘being left behind’, and who have received less attention from policymakers in the field of sustainable development.
View report page | View document A/75/385

Freedom of religion or belief and gender equality: This report, submitted at the 43rd session (2020) of the Human Rights Council, addresses gender-based violence and discrimination in the name of religion or belief.
View report page | View document A/HRC/43/48

Latest country reports

Mission to Sri Lanka (15 to 26 August 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/48/Add.2

Mission to the Netherlands (28 March to 5 April 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/48/Add.1

Latest news


More press releases and statements ...

Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Calls for input

Report on Anti-Muslim Hatred and Discrimination
Submission deadline: 30 November 2020

Former mandate holders

Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt (Germany),
August 2010 - October 2016

Ms. Asma Jahangir (Pakistan),
August 2004 - July 2010

Mr. Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia),
April 1993 - July 2004

Mr. Angelo d'Almeida Ribeiro (Portugal),
March 1986 - March 1993