Washington: A group of 30 parliamentarians from around the world have signed a joint statement committing themselves to advance religious freedom for all.
"This historic event brought together individual parliamentarians from a wide range of nations and religious communities in a united effort to galvanise support at a time when religious freedom increasingly is under attack," said Katrina Lantos Swett Chairwoman of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
"Despite great religious, political, and regional diversity, they were unified in agreeing to combat persecution and support the principles of religious freedom that are found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," she said.
The Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief, USCIRF said, commits the parliamentarians to promote religious freedom or belief for all persons through their work and respective institutions and enhance global cooperation.
The charter was signed by these parliamentarians at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo last week.
Countries represented included Argentina, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
In addition, from the United States two Commissioners from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom participated, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The parliamentarians sent co-signed letters to the heads of state of Pakistan and Burma expressing concern about "religious freedom violations in each country", and wrote Pope Francis to apprise him of the initiative.
"Some of us came to this meeting from environments of safety, but we were moved by the presence of others who attended at great personal risk," said USCIRF Commissioner Mary Ann Glendon.
"We owe them our best effort to ensure that this new initiative gains strength and support, and we expect this network to grow," Glendon said.