By: Jeffrey Cimmino

What is the kernel of the issue?

The Biden administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance (INSSG) calls for the US to “revitalize democracy the world over” and “lead and sustain a stable and open international system.” However, the document makes little mention of a critical tool for pursuing these goals: advancing international religious freedom.

Why is the issue important?

Religious freedom, like freedom of speech, is an inalienable right. Failing to advance religious freedom abroad enables abuses of religious and ethnic minorities, such as the Uyghurs in China, to go unchecked. Religious repression undermines international norms (religious freedom is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and risks corroding democratic polities, both of which undermine a well-functioning, open rules-based international system.

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should integrate religious freedom into its National Security Strategy to help revitalize democracy and sustain an open international system. It should work with democratic allies and partners to develop mechanisms of accountability to ensure the United States and other democracies are upholding religious liberty in their countries, while also engaging non-democratic partners to encourage the growth of religious freedom. Moreover, the United States should work with democratic allies and partners to rally the international community to confront Beijing’s violations of this human right in Xinjiang and impose costs on its actions.