Andre Haspels, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


Andre Haspels, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, attended the Ministerial Meeting to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, July 25, 2018. Afterwards, he issued the following statement:

The Kingdom of the Netherlands commends the United States of America for initiating a ministerial
meeting on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as quoted above, remains as valid nowadays as in 1948 upon its conception, with the globally increasing number of people facing discrimination,
persecution and other violations based on their religion or lack thereof.

Human rights

Human rights are universal, interdependent and indivisible. The right to freedom of religion and belief cannot be approached and achieved without observance of other rights, such as freedom of expression, equal rights for women and equal rights for LGBTI persons, enabling everyone to participate in society irrespective of religion, belief, political views, race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The right to freedom of religion and belief also entails the right to change religion or belief and includes the right to not believe.

The Netherlands will use its active foreign policy to promote universal rights, particularly for vulnerable groups such as Christians and LGBTI persons. The Human Rights Council of the United Nations is a relevant and important UN body for globally protecting and promoting these human rights.

In the Netherlands tolerance towards those who think differently is the norm, and there is a separation of church and state. People are free to worship as they wish, or not to adhere to any religion at all. We are proud of these values, and how they have shaped our country.