In his capacity as chair of the United Nations (UN) NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Michael De Dora, the Center for Inquiry’s Director of Public Policy, recently helped to coordinate a special visit to Washington, D.C., by Ahmed Shaheed, the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion of Belief.
The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council for a maximum of two three-year terms. This individual is tasked to make formal country visits, raise concerns about individual cases and systemic issues, deliver annual reports to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly, work on the development and implementation of human rights standards, and engage in advocacy and public awareness efforts. Shaheed, a career diplomat from the Maldives, began his service on November 1, 2016.
De Dora helped organize Shaheed’s first visit to the UN in New York City in October. At that time, arrangements were made for Shaheed to visit Washington from April 3 to 5, 2017. In addition to visiting CFI’s Office of Public Policy, Shaheed met with representatives from the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, the Religious Freedom Institute, the Pew Research Center, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He spoke at a public event cosponsored by CFI at Freedom House, which conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights. CFI also collaborated with Hardwired to arrange meetings with staffs of members of Congress, which resulted in a meeting with Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Gary E. Hall, senior director of the White House National Security Council for International Organizations and Alliances.