The Istanbul Process is the dedicated mechanism for follow-up on the implementation of the action plan set out in Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 and its counterpart at the General Assembly, resolution 66/167. These parallel resolutions form the main intergovernmental policy framework for combatting intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief. Both resolutions were adopted by consensus in 2011, and hailed by stakeholders from all regions and religion or belief backgrounds as an important step forward in international efforts to confront intolerance based on religion or belief. Since 2011, both the Human Rights Council and General Assembly have annually adopted follow-up resolutions reiterating the same action plan, each time by consensus.

The inclusion of an explicit plan of action to combat intolerance based on religion or belief in these resolutions is key to understanding their value and continued relevance. The 16/18 action plan provides carefully crafted, balanced and holistic human rights based guidance to States and other relevant stakeholders on how to prevent and respond to manifestations of intolerance, discrimination, hatred and violence based on religion or belief. The dedicated mechanism to monitor and drive implementation of the action plan, known as the ‘Istanbul Process’, is a unique and innovative feature accompanying a UN human rights resolution. Since the launch of the Istanbul Process in Turkey in July 2011, there have been seven expert-level meetings: in Washington (hosted by the United States), London (UK and Canada), Geneva (OIC), Doha (Qatar), Jeddah (OIC), Singapore and the Hague (the Netherlands). In addition, one so-called stocktaking meeting took place in Geneva in the spring of 2019, hosted by the European Union, Denmark and the Universal Rights Group.

Approaching the ten-year anniversary of the adoption of resolution 16/18 and against a worrying backdrop of heightened intolerance based on religion or belief worldwide, maintaining consensus around the ‘16/18 framework’ is of the utmost importance. However, that consensus remains fragile.

This website, created by ARTICLE 19 and the Universal Rights Group, serves as an information resource and repository on the Istanbul Process. It provides more detail on each of the eight action points and four commitments contained in resolution 16/18, as well as documents related to previous Istanbul Process meetings, including a map of good practices identified at those convenings, and links to other relevant resources and commentary.


Learn more about the eight action points set out in Council resolution 16/18 and how their implementation contributes to the elimination of discrimination based on religion or belief.