International Moot Court Competition in Law & Religion: Rome, March 2020

Law students: mark your calendars this spring for a remarkable opportunity in the Eternal City.

The European Academy of Religion is hosting the third International Moot Court Competition in Law and Religion. The competition will take place in Rome from March 5th to March 7th, 2020 and is open to law students in both American and European schools.

Student teams will argue a hypothetical case before two courts, the European Court of Human Rights and the U.S. Supreme Court. Scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions will serve as judges. After a verdict, a roundtable discussion will debate the varying argumentative skills used and highlight the different cultural points of view of the two Courts.

The program is a wonderful chance for students to build advocacy skills, learn about international legal systems, and engage in legal analysis at the intersection of law and religion. The competition case this year involves a state hospital policy prohibiting employees from wearing visible religious signs in public, and the question of what appropriate accommodations are required by statute.

For more details, as well as entry information, please click here.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

A Defense of Religious Freedom from the Human Rights Perspective

At our 2014 conference in Rome with LUMSA on international religious freedom and the global clash of values, we were delighted to meet Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, then the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. He gave an impassioned talk at the conference.

Professor Bielefeldt, who teaches at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, has a new co-authored book: Religious Freedom Under Scrutiny (University of Pennsylvania Press), together with Michael Wiener.

“Freedom of religion or belief is deeply entrenched in international human rights conventions and constitutional traditions around the world. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion as does the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 1966. A rich jurisprudence on freedom of religion or belief is based on the European Convention on Human Rights, drafted in 1950 by the Council of Europe. Similar regional guarantees exist in the framework of the Organization of American States as well as within the African Union. Freedom of religion or belief has found recognition in numerous national constitutions, and some governments have shown a particularly strong commitment to the international promotion of this right.

As Heiner Bielefeldt and Michael Wiener observe, however, freedom of religion or belief remains a source of political conflict, legal controversy, and intellectual debate. In Religious Freedom Under Scrutiny, Bielefeldt and Wiener explore various critiques leveled at this right. For example, does freedom of religion contribute to the spread of Western neoliberal values to the detriment of religious and cultural diversity? Can religious freedom serve as the entry point for antifeminist agendas within the human rights framework? Drawing on their considerable experience in the field, Bielefeldt and Wiener provide a typological overview and analysis of violations around the world that illustrate the underlying principles as well as the relationship between freedom of religion or belief and other human rights.

Religious Freedom Under Scrutiny argues that without freedom of religion or belief, human rights cannot fully address our complex needs, yearnings, and vulnerabilities as human beings. Furthermore, ignoring or marginalizing freedom of religion or belief would weaken the plausibility, attractiveness, and legitimacy of the entire system of human rights.”