WASHINGTON — The International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit, the world’s premier annual gathering of religious freedom advocates and activists, will be held January 31–February 1. The Summit, usually held in the summer, has been moved several months earlier in 2023 and coincides with the start of the National Prayer Breakfast. IRF Summit 2023 will be held at the Washington Hilton.
You Si-Kun, president of the Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s highest national legislative body, will address the IRF Summit on January 31. You, the highest-ranking Taiwanese official allowed to travel to the United States, proved himself a staunch supporter of religious freedom even in the face of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authoritarianism by hosting the Regional Religious Freedom Forum, a platform focused on freedom of religion and belief in the Indo-Pacific. At this forum in 2019, then-Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback memorably declared, “China is at war with faith.”
You’s remarks are expected to contrast the actions of repressive regimes in the Indo-Pacific with Taiwan’s efforts to stand as a beacon of hope, democracy and religious plurality in the region.
The IRF Summit coalition — made up of religious leaders, advocates and activists from around the world, spanning a wide range of faith traditions and political affiliations — is convened by former Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and Dr. Katina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
“The IRF Summit demonstrates the power of uniting people from different backgrounds and faiths in the common cause of advocating for greater religious freedom globally,” said Brownback. “The challenges to freedom of religion and belief are numerous and growing, but so are the bonds among the diverse members of our IRF coalition. Together, we’ll take stock of the challenges, discuss innovative solutions and make commitments that will march us toward our shared goal of religious freedom for everyone, everywhere, all the time.”
“Although the IRF Summit only convened six months ago, even in that short time we have seen new and concerning developments in religious persecution and the curtailment of religious freedom around the world. The ongoing protests in Iran offer one powerful example of why it remains so vital to collectively work to extend the fundamental right of freedom of religion, conscience and belief to everyone – but it is only one example of many,” said Lantos Swett. “We believe that convening our passionate, diverse and dedicated coalition of religious freedom advocates alongside one of the world’s premier interfaith gatherings will help us broaden that coalition even further and build even greater momentum for the IRF movement.”
The Summit brings together leaders, experts and advocates from government, civil society, academia and dozens of world religions and it features the voices of survivors of discrimination and persecution based on religion or belief. It offers a mainstage plenary program of high-level speakers, including You Si-Kun. Four distinct breakout tracks will delve into key areas of focus: Defending IRF; Developing IRF; Documenting IRF; and Denial of IRF.
The Summit is supported by more than 70 diverse partners, including the Religious Freedom Institute, Lantos Foundation, Meta, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, among others, and aims to bring greater attention to religious freedom violations and to create a powerful coalition of groups to advance the cause of religious freedom around the world.
More information and the full schedule of events for the International Religious Freedom Summit 2023 is available here.
Press on assignment to cover IRF Summit 2023 must request event credentials at firstname.lastname@example.org
International Religious Freedom Summit is a powerful, broad coalition of religious, human rights and civil society groups that advocate for religious freedom for all people, everywhere at all times.
Samuel Brownback served as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom (2018-21) and is co-chair of IRF Summit 2022.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett is president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and is co-chair of IRF Summit 2022.