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The Tandem Project is a UN NGO in Special Consultative Status with the
Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Separation of Religion or Belief and State

Universal Periodic Review reports in six languages


If reports below blue bar do not open, click to access all these reports in the master link above

Universal Periodic Review - Greece
Only contributions submitted in one of the United Nations official languages are admissible and posted on this webpage
Date of consideration: Monday 9 May 2011, 9:00 am - 12:00 am

National report 1 :

A | C | E | F | R | S

Compilation of UN information 2 :

A | C | E | F | R | S

Summary of stakeholders' information 3 :

A | C | E | F | R | S

Questions submitted in advance :
Addendum 1 :
Addendum 2 :
Addendum 3 :
Addendum 4 :

E only
E only
E only
E only
E only

Outcome of the review:

Report of the Working group :

A | C | E | F | R | S

Addendum 1 :

A | C | E | F | R | S

Related webcast archives:


Main Country Page: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/GRIndex.aspx

Independent Expert on Minorities Main Country Page report on religion.

National Report: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/GRSession11.aspx

Paragraphs in J. Rights of persons belonging to minorities include: # 68, 69, 70, 71, 77. 
Paragraphs in Fight Against Intolerance, Human Rights Education include: # 80, 84. 
There  is no sub-section or paragraphs on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Inter-active Dialoguehttp://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=110509#am1


The Tandem Project analysis of the Report of the Working Group directs readers to just the Conclusions and Recommendations that have a direct reference to Freedom of Religion or Belief.  From 97 Recommendations that enjoy the support of Greece these are those with a direct reference: # 22,23, 53, 54, 55, 61,64.  From 18 Recommendations that will be given consideration by Greece these are those with a direct reference: # 15, 16. From those that did not enjoy the support of Greece: # 4, 5,8.




Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to Greece in 1996 (A/51/542//Add.1).  Report of the Special Rapporteur to the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly.


Article 3

1. The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The Orthodox Church of Greece, acknowledging our Lord Jesus Christ as its head, is inseparably united in doctrine with the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople and with every other Church of Christ of the same doctrine, observing unwaveringly, as they do, the holy apostolic and syn- odal canons and sacred traditions. It is autocephalous and is administered by the Holy Synod of serving Bishops and the Permanent Holy Synod originating thereof and assembled as specified by the Statutory Charter of the Church in compliance with the provisions of the Patriarchal Tome of June 29, 1850 and the Synodal Act of September 4, 1928.

2. The ecclesiastical regime existing in certain districts of the State shall not be deemed contrary to the provisions of the preceding paragraph.

3. The text of the Holy Scripture shall be maintained unaltered. Official translation of the text into any other form of language, without prior sanction by the Autocephalous Church of Greece and the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, is prohibited.

Article 13

1. Freedom of religious conscience is inviolable. The enjoyment of civil rights and liberties does not depend on the individual's religious beliefs.

2. All known religions shall be free and their rites of worship shall be performed unhindered and under the protection of the law. The practice of rites of worship is not allowed to offend public order or the good usages. Proselytism is prohibited.

3. The ministers of all known religions shall be subject to the same supervision by the State and to the same obligations toward it as those of the prevailing religion.

4. No person shall be exempt from discharging his obligations to the State or may refuse to comply with the laws by reason of his religious convictions.

5. No oath shall be imposed or administered except as specified by law and in the form determined by law.


Separation of Religion or Belief and State encourages UN Member States with constitutions or legal systems
called State Church or State Theocracy to consider ways which the following objective can be implemented.


The right of all persons to their own values, cultural identity and core principles based on religion or belief,
separate from the state in tandem with human rights on freedom of religion or belief for the common good.

General Comment 22 on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/9a30112c27d1167cc12563ed004d8f15?Opendocument

The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

A/HRC/16/L.14 – Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Adopted without a vote by Consensus
on 24 March 2011. Greece was a co-sponsor as a non-Member State of the Human Rights Council.

7. Urges States to step up their efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, and to this end:

(a) To ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provide adequate and effective guarantees of freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief to all without distinction by, inter alia, the provision of access to justice and effective remedies in cases where the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, or the right to freely practice one’s religion, including the right to change one’s religion or belief, is violated;

A/HRC/16/18 - Link to HRC Panel Discussion 14 June 2011. Read page one on the importance of Consensus for human rights and freedom of religion or belief

UN Human Rights Council Panel Discussion - Culture of Tolerance and Peace - 14 June 2011


U.S. State Department 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, Greece

Read the complete report by clicking on this link


Excerpts from the Report

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. The constitution establishes the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ (Greek Orthodox Church) as the prevailing religion, but also provides for the right of all citizens to practice the religion of their choice.

Overall, there was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period. The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. However, non-Orthodox groups sometimes faced administrative obstacles or encountered legal restrictions. The constitution and law prohibit proselytizing and stipulate that no rite of worship may disturb public order or offend moral principles. Members of some religious groups reported police harassment of missionaries. No new house of prayer permits, which provide official permission for a religious group to establish and operate a new place of worship, have been issued since 2006.

There were multiple reports in the media of societal abuses of religious freedom and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Some non-Orthodox citizens complained of being treated with suspicion by fellow citizens or told that they were not truly Greek when they revealed their religious affiliation. Anti-Semitic incidents occurred, including an arson attack on a synagogue in Crete. The archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church took positive steps to promote interfaith dialogue with the Anglican Church and other religious denominations.

The government generally respected religious freedom in practice. However, the government limits the ability of some religious groups to register or obtain legal recognition as religions. The government has not issued any new house of prayer permits since 2006. Without these permits, religious groups are not recognized as religions and are unable to own and manage property and other assets or establish and operate a new place of worship. In September 2009 the deputy ombudsman for human rights stated that government delays in issuing house of prayer permits were violations of previous Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings.”

The government recognized Shari'a as the law regulating family and civic issues for Muslims who reside in Thrace. First instance courts in Thrace routinely ratified the decisions of the muftis, who have judicial powers in civil and domestic matters. The National Human Rights Committee (an autonomous body that advises the government on human rights) and other human rights organizations stated that the government should limit the powers of the muftis to religious duties only and not recognize Shari'a, since it can restrict the civil rights of some citizens, especially women. In past reporting periods, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern regarding the impediments that Muslim women in Thrace faced under Shari'a. In 2006 the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur for Religion or Belief reported that they were informed of cases of both early marriages and marriages by proxy.



Lesson: Limitations to Manifest a Religion or Belief: http://www.tandemproject.com/part2/article1/art1_3.htm

Lesson: Discrimination by the State, Institutions, Groups, Person: http://www.tandemproject.com/part2/article2/art2_1.htm

Lesson: Concept & Method: Freedom of Religion or Belief http://www.tandemproject.com/part1/concepts_methods/concepts_methods.htm

Reply: Inter-active C&C Database for text box reply to Eight Article Internet Course Lessons: http://www.tandemproject.com/databases/forms/card.htm



The Tandem Project C&C Database has an inter-active internet capability for Universal Periodic Reviews by Governments, Community, Village and independent study strategies within countries. This is based on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the eight articles of the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Community Strategies were first proposed during the 1986 International Conference on Tolerance for Diversity of Religion or Belief.



A synthesis between disciplines to activate a holistic approach to the inalienable, indivisible and interrelatedness of human rights and freedom of religion or belief.  Advocates and professionals of each discipline propose programs to contribute to a concrete foundation for human rights and freedom of religion or belief. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of each country is different depending on the constitutions, cultures and ethnicities of the country.  But the need to build a holistic core foundation for human rights and freedom of religion or belief in each country is the same. 


The Tandem Project suggests Greece give consideration
to a holistic approach to integrate these disciplines 

Law, Education, Analysis, Development  (LEAD), a human rights strategy to synthesize four  components of the 1986 international conference on  Tolerance for Diversity of Religion or Belief.  

1. Law--ways in which efforts can be supported to examine international legal structures; national constitutions, national and local legislation, to make sure there is a legal framework for the Declaration in each nation-state of the U.N; 2. Education--ways in which broadly-based programs of education can be developed at all levels in schools, government, universities, voluntary organizations, and the media; 3. Analysis--ways in which special studies, research, and curricula can be developed in theological seminaries, universities, and colleges to combat and to eliminate intolerance based on religion or belief; 4. Development--ways in which organizations of diverse ideologies may be able to work together on humanitarian service projects in the "name and spirit" of tolerance, with mutual understanding and respect for each other.


I attended a meeting of political scientists who had gathered to discuss why international relations theory had never considered the role of religion in society. Given the state of the world today, this is a significant oversight. There can be no adequate understanding of the most important issues we face when disciplines are cloistered from one another and operate on their own premises. It would be far more effective to bring together people working on questions of religion, politics, history, economics, anthropology, sociology, literature, art, religion and philosophy to engage in comparative analysis of common problems.  – New York Times Op-Ed: April 27, 2009, Mark C. Taylor, Chairman of the Religion Department, Columbia University, New York.

Indicators to measure inclusive and genuine awareness and understanding of International Human Rights Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


The Tandem Project a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1986 to build understanding, tolerance, and respect for diversity of religion or belief, and to prevent discrimination in matters relating to freedom of religion or belief. The Tandem Project has sponsored multiple conferences, curricula, reference material and programs on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – and the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

In 1968 the United Nations deferred work on a legally-binding treaty on religious intolerance as too complex and sensitive and passed a non-binding declaration in its place. The Tandem Project believes until a core legally-binding human rights Convention on Freedom of Religion or Belief  is adopted international human rights law will be incomplete. It may be time to begin to consider reinstating the 1968 Working Group to better organize and bring all matters relating to freedom of religion or belief under one banner, a core international human rights legally-binding treaty.