The 16/18-action plan highlights the importance of ‘speaking out against intolerance including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’. Members of parliament, as elected representatives of the People and as individuals enjoying a high public profile, are extremely well placed to fulfil this commitment and to contribute to the fight against religious discrimination and intolerance. To help encourage and support parliamentarians in this regard, in late 2014 a group of thirty MPs met in Oslo to found the ‘International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief’ (IPPFORB) and signed the ‘Oslo Charter’ (the Panel’s founding document). IPPFORB works to leverage the power and influence of parliamentarians in support of the implementation of resolution 16/18 via international meetings and capacity-building programmes.
The network provides parliamentarians with trainings, organises high-level events, conducts fact-finding and solidarity missions and carries out advocacy initiatives to build networks, encourage proactive actions and equip parliamentarians to develop strong domestic legislations. Recently, IPPFoRB brought four parliamentarians from Canada, Indonesia and South Africa to the US Ministerial to Advance the Religious Freedom in Washington D.C. in July 2019.
There are numerous examples reported by IPPFORB of parliamentarians around the world helping to take forward parts of the 16/18-action plan.
Parliamentarians also have a convening power in other related international frameworks such as the Rabat Plan of Action. For example, national legislatures can be an important space for dialogue between political leaders and religious community leaders.