NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Protecting freedom of thought at the United Nations in New York City.

The Economic & Business Case for Freedom of Religion or Belief

It is widely known, though unfortunately often rejected, that societies which respect and protect the rights to freedom of religion or belief experience less conflict and violence, and enjoy greater social harmony. But were you aware that new research suggests such societies also see better economic outcomes?

Over the past year, this newfound connection between religious freedom and economic growth has received much focus and attention. Just how important is it to foster respect by businesses for religious freedom? How are state and non-state actors working to engage businesses to promote the rights to freedom of religion or belief? And how can civil society groups get involved?

To consider and address these questions, the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief in New York will host a panel discussion on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 featuring Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, with responses from Prof. Silvio Ferrari, an expert on freedom of religion and the law, and Jeffrey French, an expert in the peacemaking potential of business.

Each speaker will provide brief remarks, leading into a discussion moderated by Michael De Dora, president of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

This event will take place Wednesday, December 10, 2014, from 2 to 4 p.m., in the Bahá’í International Community United Nations Office, located at 866 UN Plaza (Suite 120), New York, NY 10017. To RSVP, please email unforb@gmail.com

More information on the speakers:

  • Brian J. Grim, Ph. D., is President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. In addition, he is a member of the World Economic Forum’s council on the role of faith; an advisor for the religion & geopolitics project of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation; an associate scholar at the Religious Liberty Project at Georgetown University; and an affiliated scholar at Boston University’s Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs. He previously directed the Pew Research Center’s project to collect and analyze global data on religion.
  • Silvio Ferrari, Ph. D., is Professor of Canon Law at the University of Milan and a member of the Advisory Council on Freedom of Religion and Belief for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Ferrari is also Life Honorary President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies and is an Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.
  • Jeffrey French is the Project Manager of Business for Peace at the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative. In this role he manages the day-to-day workstreams of a program dedicated to assisting companies implement responsible business practices in high-risk areas. Prior to joining the Global Compact, Mr. French worked for five years at a non-profit that specialized in developing systems and services to prevent armed conflict, with an emphasis on Somalia. Mr. French received his Masters degree in International Development from Oxford University and also holds a dual honors degree in political science and history from the University of Colorado – Boulder.
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