The US Commission on International Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan government advisory body, has issued its annual report for 2014. As it does every year, the report designates countries with bad records on religious freedom. The “countries of particular concern” for 2014 are Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. In addition, the report names countries with somewhat less bad, but still problematic records, the so-called “Tier 2 countries”: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey. Finally, the report names countries and regions that merit watching, including, somewhat surprisingly, Western Europe, which makes the list this year, among other reasons, because of recent bans on religious dress and ritual slaughter.
Among the report’s recommendations is a call for the United States to coordinate its efforts on behalf of international religious freedom with global actors–not only the UN and the OSCE, but also other national governments that now make religious freedom part of their foreign policy. The geopolitics of religious will be the the subject of one of the panels at our upcoming conference on international religious freedom this summer in Rome (watch this space for further details).
The report is pretty long, about 200 pages, but quite worthwhile. For a good summary, check out this piece by the Commission’s Knox Thames and Elizabeth Cassidy.