Committee: 3rd Committee of the General Assembly (SOCHUM)
Topic Area A: The right to religion and religious manifestation
Numerous Treaties of the United Nations protect freedom of religion. Under these Treaties discrimination because of religion is against the law. Everyone should have access to the same opportunities and benefits, and be treated with equal dignity and respect, regardless of their religion.
However there are certain issues regarding religious manifestation, religious education as well as issues about proselytism and religious discrimination that have to be discussed further. This is because, even in the 21st century, in some countries religion freedom conditions do not rise to the statutory level.
It is the United Nations responsibility, therefore, to monitor the nature and extent of the religious problems, to eliminate them and promote the ?freedom of religion or belief? where needed.
The Constitution of Croatia and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. In article 14 it is clearly stated that all citizens of Croatia shall be equal before the law regardless of their religion among others, and they shall enjoy all rights and freedoms. However, freedoms and rights may be restricted by law to protect the freedoms and rights of other people and the public order, morality and health (article 16).
There is no official state religion; however, the Roman Catholic Church (about 85%), the Serbian Orthodox Church (about 6%) and the Islamic Community (about 1%) and other Christian denominations that have signed agreements with the State receive some state support. The law requires a religious group to have at least 500 members and be registered as an association for at least five years before being registered as a religious community. Registered religious communities have legal status and receive tax and other benefits. There are currently 44 registered religious communities which according to article 41 shall be equal before the law and shall be separate from the state. They shall also be free, in conformity with law, to perform religious services publicly, to open schools, teaching establishments or other institutions and to manage them, and shall in their activity enjoy the protection and assistance of the state.
In the field of education the government requires religious education in public schools, although attendance is optional. The Roman Catholic catechism is the predominant religious text used. The other religious groups having agreements with the state may offer religious education in schools in which there are seven or more students of a given faith. The students may also opt out of religious education.
As for the use of religious symbols in public places, Croatia permits them as far as they are not dangerous for the public order, morality and health
Taking all these into account Croatia strongly believes that the United Nations state members should be committed to support and implement programmes which will promote the appreciation of the value of freedom and the respect of human dignity and differences so as they be able to prevent conflicts or resolve them by non-violent means. The United Nations should promote religious equality all over the world and eliminate phenomena of human rights abuses by organizing campaigns against religious intolerance and discrimination. We suggest that the whole international community should join together and find ways to raise international awareness on the fact that for a peaceful world it is vital that everybody has the right to religious freedom and the manifestation of their beliefs.