According to the Twitter account of Former ambassador Bea ten Tusscher, she has now become the new Dutch Special Envoy (or Ambassador for Freedom Religious Freedom and Belief as published in her profile.
Bea ten Tusscher (62) will succeed Jos Douma in September. Douma had been doing a good job in opening his communication lines to all religions, bigger and smaller, older and newest, an openness and dialogue that especially religious minorities expect the new Ambassador to maintain and increase. Douma became the first Special Envoy of Religion in the Netherlands in 2019. The position was created to protect religious freedom worldwide.
Dutch efforts to promote freedom of religion and belief worldwide
The website of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that they protect this right and others by:
- ensuring freedom of religion and belief is a top priority at various international organisations including the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) and the Council of Europe (CoE);
- highlighting the importance of freedom of religion and belief in various settings. For instance in talks with the government of the country in question or in dialogues with religious leaders;
- financing projects through the Human Rights Funds. For an up-to-date overview of projects see the Human Rights Report which is submitted to Parliament each year;
- having the Human Rights Ambassador raise the issue in countries where these freedoms
The new protector of FoRB on the block
The new Ambassador or Special Envoy has built up herself much experience within the Dutch diplomatic world having served in several positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1986.
Ten Tusscher served as an ambassador in Guatemala, Bangladesh, Norway and most recently in Bulgaria (2017-2021). From 2009 to 2021, she was the head of the department of Human Rights, Gender, Good Governance and Humanitarian Aid.
“In my career, I have built up much experience in protecting human rights”, Ten Tusscher explains her decision in a short written response, reported by the Dutch daily. “I want to contribute, together with Dutch and international partners, to freedom of religion and conviction for everyone, without fear or discrimination.”
FoRB, a commitment that has not yet been fulfilled
Ten Tusscher shows to be aware that the commitment of democratic societies to Freedom of Religion or Belief is still not fulfilled, especially, as she tells to the Dutch daily Reformatorish Dagblad, when “There are still countries in the world where you can get the death penalty for apostasy or blasphemy.”
Like many advocates of FoRB and many diplomats, Ten Tusscher noticed during her career that many people found “inspiration and support” in their religion. “The relevance of religion for society and politics, in diplomacy and development is often bigger than we think in our relatively secular Europe.”