The vast majority of the world's governments respect religious freedom. Indeed, most have accepted one or more of the international instruments that explicitly protect that right. For example, 165 countries are parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which acknowledges the right of every human being "to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice" and "either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching." All of these countries have pledged "not to discriminate on the basis of religion."
Notwithstanding the existence of this and other broadly accepted international instruments protecting religious freedom, there remains in some countries a substantial difference between promise and practice. Much of the world's population lives in countries in which the right to religious freedom is restricted or prohibited.