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No Member State is free from the dangers of religious intolerance and the effects it has on the promotion and strengthening of human rights throughout the world. Australia being a state where only 22.3 percent of the population claimed no religious affiliation during the 2016 census, is no stranger to the rise of religious intolerance and violence of a religious origin. Further, being a state with a colonial past, Australia has a unique situation of having an original peoples with their own spiritual past. Australia believes violence against religious minorities comes from the lack of proper legal frameworks that are both poor in wording and in enforcement. Australia supports OHCR resolution 22/20 which calls for the acceptance of freedom of religion or belief and an end to violence against religion from terrorism. Australia understands the reluctance of using military force against terror groups, but insists on the need to protect the rights of people around the world, especially when a people’s traditions, thoughts and beliefs are under attack, and it is for that reason that Australia believes we must continue to use force in order to protect against terror, when there is no other means. Australia acknowledges the need for better research and data on religious groups through the help of non-governmental organizations such as the Association of Religion and Data Archives founded in 1997; a data consortium dedicated at understanding the vast array of world religions. The United Nations Population Fund’s 2015 report Realizing the Faith: Religion, Gender, Peace and Security in Agenda 2030, highlights the importance of moving past dealing with religious issues on an ad-hoc basis, that we must treat it as an ongoing and fundamental issue. The freedom of religion is believed to be a basic and fundamental human right within Australia and a necessary component in achieve the SDGs. That peoples have the right to a major religion, but also non-theistic and atheistic beliefs and that it is through proper education towards that end that we achieve a proper growth in furthering human rights and fostering the growth and creation of sustainable cities and communities. Australia understands and supports the OHCR’s Faith in the public school system: Principles for reconciliation, that calls for a five pronged approach legal framework: guarding against coercion, accommodation, the role of schools in promotion and safety, educational opportunities and the respect for the rights of the child. It is through such a framework that Australia believes we can reinvigorate the implementation of the Rabat Plan of Action and OHCR resolution 16/18.

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