International Religious Freedom Report 2006
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

I. Summary of Major Developments

Since the first report on International Religious Freedom was issued in September 1999, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has worked continuously with the Office of International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, in implementing H.R. 2431 (the International Religious Freedom Act). The result of this cooperation has been the integration of religious freedom issues into the regular curriculum at FSI. During the period covered by this report, members of the FSI training staff took part in conferences dealing with religious freedom, persecution, conflict, and reconciliation hosted by academic institutions, think tanks, and nongovernmental organizations. The Political Training Division at FSI has continued to work with the staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to ensure that their insights are reflected in FSI's course offerings.

II. Courses Offered

The School of Professional and Area Studies (SPAS) at FSI offers training relevant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) in a variety of courses. The following are brief descriptions of courses offered by the divisions of Political Training, Orientation, Consular Training, and Area Studies.

FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER ORIENTATION (A-100)

During the A-100 Course, a senior State Department official from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) presents a session on international religious freedom. Additionally, students are provided key background materials on religious freedom on a CD Rom distributed to each officer. They are also directed to key websites containing related materials.

POLITICAL/ECONOMIC TRADECRAFT (PG-140)

This is a 3-week-long course. The students have been assigned for the first time to work in an embassy's or consulate's political, economic, or combined political/economic section overseas. Political/Economic Tradecraft is essentially a required course, in that State Department officers are assigned to take it by the personnel system and exceptions are rare. The State Department expects that a large proportion of these officers/students during their careers will be directly responsible for preparing their post's human rights and religious freedom reports.

As part of required consultations during the course, each student is asked to obtain the Annual Report on Religious Freedom and the report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom listed in Section III. In addition the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor provides a session during which religious freedom issues are featured prominently.

GLOBAL ISSUES (PP-510)

This 3-day course is given twice a year and is geared toward mid-level foreign affairs and national security professionals working for the Department of State and other agencies. In the fall, this course is combined with a separate module on human rights.

As in the Tradecraft courses, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor provides presentations during which religious freedom issues are featured together with other aspects of U.S. human rights policy.

INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT WORKSHOP (PP-519)

This 4-day workshop focuses on various aspects of international conflict, especially the enhancement of skills needed to analyze the causes of conflict and develop a plan for preventive diplomacy. This course trains up to 30 foreign affairs and national security professionals at all levels working for the Department of State and other agencies.

Multiple segments in this course address the factors that drive ethnic conflict, which include questions of religious identity and religious and ethnic persecution.

BASIC CONSULAR COURSE (PC-530)

PC-530 is a prerequisite for serving as a Consular Officer in the Foreign Service. It is designed primarily for Foreign Service Officers preparing to go overseas to fill consular positions, dependents of U.S. government employees who will work as Consular Associates overseas, and domestic employees of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The Immigrant Visa portion of PC-530 addresses refugee and asylum issues as they pertain to consular officers. Role-plays and other scenarios involving religious minorities have been incorporated into the American Citizen Services portion of the course.

AREA STUDIES

The Foreign Service Institute and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation annually sponsor a major symposium focused on religious freedom and the role of U.S. diplomats overseas. Officers in FSI language training and area studies courses take part in this symposium. The symposium brings together leading experts on religious issues and foreign affairs practitioners who can speak to the job related aspects of religious freedom issues to provide our officers with a clear understanding of the importance of these issues and the challenges and responsibilities they will face.

Throughout the year, the course chairs in the Area Studies Division, in cooperation with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, ensure that their courses address both regional and country specific issues of religion, religious freedom, and human rights. Participants receive substantial information encompassing the full range of issues affecting particular regions, including religious freedom and human rights, religious history and religious traditions. Students also receive reading lists (and internet guidance) that direct them to even more detailed material.

AMBASSADORIAL TRAINING

The Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs regularly speaks to the Ambassadorial Seminar on the importance of this topic.

III. Background Material on Religious Freedom

The following background materials related to religious freedom are made available (as hard copy or through website address) to FSI students:

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BACKGROUND MATERIALS PROVIDED TO STUDENTS AT FSI

  • Mission Statement for the State Department Office of International Religious Freedom
  • "Preparing the Annual Report on Religious Freedom for 2006"
  • 2005 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (Executive Summary)
  • Main Web Page of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
    • List of current Members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
    • Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Highlights from Key International Documents:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 18)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Articles 18, 26 & 27)

LINKS TO INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BACKGROUND MATERIALS

1. 2005 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (Executive Summary): http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2005/51386.htm

2. Main Web Page of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, congressionally funded commission: http://www.uscirf.gov

3. Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

4. International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights:
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_ccpr.html