Meeting in Istanbul hosted by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretariat
On 15 July 2011, the Istanbul Process was launched following a Ministerial Meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey. The goal of the event was to call upon all relevant stakeholders to take measures to implement concretely resolution 16/18, address and combat intolerance, discrimination and violence based on religion or belief. The meeting, co-chaired by the OIC Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and US Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton gathered Foreign Ministers and high-ranking officials of 28 countries, as well as international organisations.
Istanbul Process 1
On 12 – 14 December 2011, representatives of 26 governments and four international organisations met in Washington D.C. (USA) at the invitation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first Istanbul Process meeting. It focused on two of the eight action points included in resolution 16/18, namely, prohibiting discrimination based on religion or belief, and government outreach and training.
Istanbul Process 2
On 3 – 5 December 2012, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office together with the Canadian High Commission organised the second Istanbul Process meeting in London, UK, entitled ‘Combating intolerance and promoting freedom of religion or belief: supporting the inclusion and participation of all’. The meeting focused on three action points: (i) overcoming obstacles to the equal participation of all groups in society; (ii) combating intolerance through education; and (iii) developing collaborative networks between government and civil society.
Istanbul Process 3
On 19 – 21 June 2013, the OIC hosted the third Istanbul Process meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, and discussed steps to implement three action points:(i) ‘Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’; (ii) ‘Adopting measures to criminalise incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief’; and (iii) ‘Recognising that the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence’. The meeting was attended by delegations from over 60 countries, international organisations, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders.
Istanbul Process 4
On 24 – 25 March 2014, the Government of Qatar and the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue hosted the fourth Istanbul Process meeting in Doha (Qatar). The meeting gathered 76 participants and was focused on advancing religious freedom through interfaith collaboration and using interreligious dialogue to combat intolerance.
Istanbul Process 5
On 3 – 4 June 2015, the OIC hosted the 5th meeting of the Istanbul Process in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, entitled: ‘From resolution to realisation: how to promote effective implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 16/18.’ The meeting addressed three of resolution 16/18’s action points: (i) addressing potential areas of tension between communities and promotion of better understanding and dialogue; (ii) countering and combatting advocacy to religious hatred that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence through affirmative/positive measures; and (iii) understanding the need to combat denigration, negative religious stereotyping of persons and incitement to religious hatred through adopting measures to criminalise incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief.
Istanbul Process 6
The 6th meeting of the Istanbul Process, held in Singapore in July 2016, offered an opportunity to bring the Process back to its founding ideals: namely to provide a space for (practitioner-led) exchanges of good practices, challenges and lessons learnt in the implementation of the plan of action. The Singapore meeting was also symbolically important because it was the first gathering hosted by a non-Western/non-OIC State.
Stocktaking meeting in Geneva
On 8 April 2019, the Danish Mission to the UN Office at Geneva, the EU Delegation, and the Universal Rights Group (URG) organised an Istanbul Process ‘stocktaking exercise’ in Geneva (Switzerland). The meeting brought together around 120 government representatives, UN Special Procedures, UN officials, religious leaders and civil society representatives, and sought to, inter alia:
- Inform States and other interested stakeholders about the background of the UN’s efforts to combat religious intolerance and promote freedom of religion or belief, about the action plan set down in resolutions 16/18 and 66/167 (hereinafter the ‘16/18 action plan’), and about the process created to promote the implementation of that action plan, namely the Istanbul Process.
- Consider the current status of the Istanbul Process – opportunities and challenges.
- Look back on the 6th meeting of the Process, as well as on earlier meetings, and reflect on lessons learnt.
- Consider a limited number of case studies where States have brought changes in line with the action plan.
More broadly, the meeting aimed to help re-invigorate the Istanbul Process, given that there had not been a meeting since 2016, and to demonstrate that all States, including from the West, continue to support and value resolutions 16/18 and 66/167 and their implementation. The stocktaking meeting also aimed to provide a positive space for States, parliamentarians, NGOs and religious leaders to exchange good practice ‘case studies’ on the implementation of the 16/18 action plan.
Istanbul Process 7
On 18 – 19 November 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the The Netherlands with the support of the Universal Rights Group hosted the 7th meeting of the Istanbul Process in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The meeting focused on the following broad theme: ‘Combatting religious intolerance: Building inclusive and resilient societies, and pushing back against incitement to hatred and violence.’
In line with this broad focus, the meeting covered two main subthemes:
- Pro-active approach: building tolerant, inclusive and resilient societies; and
- Incitement to religious hatred and violence: pushing back
Learn more about the impact of the Istanbul Process by searching an interactive map, which highlights good practices and examples of implementation of one of the eight action points contained in Resolution 16/18.