Freedom of Religion of Belief Roundtables in ASEAN

The Vietnam Freedom of Religion or Belief (VFoRB) Roundtable

Founded in February 2016, the VFoRB roundtable has been quite active and had several meetings. Here Vietnamese and English language documents from the roundtable, media coverage, and solidarity work supporting their activities.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Groups Praise Vietnam’s Religious Freedom Roundtable, Call for Governments’ Support (04-19-16)

Joint Statement in Support of the Vietnam FoRB Roundtable (04-15-16)

Joint Statement in Support Vietnam FoRB Roundtable (04-15-16) – Vietnamese translation

Roundtables: FAQ

Roundtables are a unique form of organization. Below are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with some short answers and explanations. This section is still in development, so if you find the answer you are looking for, please let us know.

Q: What is a FoRB roundtable?

A roundtable is an informal meeting space for individuals, groups, and organizations to gather to discuss to shared goal of religious freedom.

Q: How do I join a roundtable?

Typically roundtables include participants, not members. No participants has the authority to speak on behalf of the roundtable.

Q: How can I get a roundtable started?

Since roundtables are informal, they are fairly easy to start. They only require a few dedicated individuals to act and co-conveners and get things going. Below is a sample Terms of Reference (ToR) for an FoRB Roundtable. You may feel free to borrow, copy, or adapt this ToR towards forming a roundtable of  your own.

Freedom of Religion or Belief Roundtable –  Sample Terms of Reference

  • The FoRB roundtable is a gathering space for groups, organizations and individuals who share the same goal of promoting freedom of religion or belief. It is not an organization and therefore has no organizational structure. It operates as a forum where all participants are equal.
  • The FoRB roundtable has no members, only participants. It may not speak or act on behalf of participants, and vice versa -- participants may not claim to act or speak in the name of the roundtable. The roundtable does not speak or sign its name as “roundtable;” it may only initiates an activity or a statement to be endorsed, or not endorsed, by individual participants themselves.
  • Participants may be individuals, groups or organizations. They may represent or not represent their religious communities or their organizations.
  • The FoRB roundtable does not accept the participation of political parties or members of political parties.
  • New participants must comply with these terms of reference (ToR) and be recommended by two existing participants.
  • Participants have equal access to the roundtable to share information, network and call for the support of other participants.
  • Activities and statements initiated by the FoRB roundtable may be joined or endorsed by non-participants.
  • All statements made at the FoRB roundtable should stay within the roundtable and not be divulged without the explicit authorization of the relevant participants.
  • The FoRB roundtable may initiate activities such as organizing a conference, sending a delegation to an event, meeting with members of Congress... It is up to each participants to take part or not in such activities.
  • Activities of the FoRB roundtable are coordinated and facilitaed by a secretariat, the responsibilities of which include convening roundtable meetings, taking minutes, passing messages among participants and ensuring compliance with the ToR.
  • Participants do not pay due or membership fee. To pay for roundtable activities, the secretariat seeks voluntary contributions by participants.
  • If necessary, the secretariat may form working groups, such as a working group to study a new piece of legislation or a working group to organize a conference.

Starting up process:

  • Two or three individuals come together and form the original secretariat. They are known as roundtable co-conveners.
  • The original secretariat invites the first group of participants and convenes the first meeting.
  • The secretariat gradually increase the number of participants following the reference process described above.
  • It is advisable that the roundtable meets once every two or three months.
  • If necessary, remote participation may be allowed using information and communication technologies.
  • To ensure safe space for all participants and mitigate government crackdown, the secretariat may consider introducing the newly formed FoRB roundtable to UN agencies, foreign diplomatic missions, international human rights organizations, other FoRB roundtables... and seek their expression of support and solidarity.

Are you part of an FoRB roundtable in ASEAN? If so, please contact us and we can share your information.