The UN General Assembly adopted on Thursday, January 21, a resolution for the protection of religious sites, which Morocco co-sponsored.
Saudi Arabia’s proposed resolution earned the official support of Morocco, along with the majority of Arab states and countries with Muslim-majority populations, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Mauritania.
Several non-Muslim states also sponsored the resolution, including the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, and Venezuela.
The US and the EU also expressed support for the resolution to protect religious sites, leading the UN General Assembly to adopt it by consensus — without a formal vote.
The resolution condemns all acts of violence, destruction, or vandalization that target religious sites. It also denounces any attempts to forcibly convert religious places.
The document asks the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to hold a global conference about the issue in order to garner public support and offer a platform for member states, the UN system, and NGOs to dialogue.
The resolution points out that the freedoms of thought, conscience, and religion are core components of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The protection of religious sites, therefore, is a prerequisite for protecting human rights.
“Religious sites are representative of the history, social fabric, and traditions of people in every country and community all over the world and should be fully respected as such,” the document stated.
“Addressing the destruction of tangible and intangible cultural heritage needs to be holistic, encompassing all regions,” it added.
In September 2019, the UN launched a Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites. However, the initiative is yet to yield tangible results, considering the large number of attacks against religious sites that have continued to occur around the world.