Orgad, “The Cultural Defense of Nations”

9780198806912Nationalism is currently resurging in the West. Nationalism explains the Brexit vote in 2016, the rise of anti-European political parties in Europe, and the Trump phenomenon in the US. For the most part, the academy refuses to treat nationalism as at all legitimate, assuming that it is simply a mask for much darker, illiberal forces — which it sometimes is, of course. A new book from Oxford University Press, The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights, by Liav Orgad (WZB Berlin Social Science Center), takes nationalism seriously and offers a defense of it from within the liberal tradition. Looks interesting. Here’s the description from the Oxford website:

Never in human history has so much attention been paid to human movement. Global migration yields demographic shifts of historical significance, profoundly shaking up world politics as has been seen in the refugee crisis, the Brexit referendum, and the 2016 US election.

The Cultural Defense of Nations addresses one of the greatest challenges facing liberalism today: is a liberal state justified in restricting immigration and access to citizenship in order to protect its majority culture? Liberal theorists and human rights advocates recognize the rights of minorities to maintain their unique cultural identity, but assume that majorities have neither a need for similar rights nor a moral ground for defending them. The majority culture, so the argument goes, “can take care of itself.” However, with more than 250 million immigrants worldwide, majority groups increasingly seek to protect what they consider to be their national identity. In recent years, liberal democracies have introduced proactive immigration and citizenship policies that are designed to defend the majority culture.

This book shifts the focus from the prevailing discussion of cultural minority rights, for the first time directly addressing the cultural rights of majorities and, for the first time, addressed the cultural rights of majorities. It proposes a new approach by which liberal democracies can welcome immigrants without fundamentally changing their cultural heritage, forsaking their liberal traditions, or slipping into extreme nationalism.

Disregarding the topic of cultural majority rights is not only theoretically wrong, but also politically unwise. With forms of “majority nationalism” rising and the growing popularity of extreme right-wing parties in the West, the time has come to liberally address contemporary challenges.

Graybill, “Religion, Tradition, and Restorative Justice in Sierra Leone”

In June, the University of Notre Dame Press will release “Religion, Tradition, and Restorative Justice in Sierra Leone,” by Lyn Graybill.  The publisher’s description follows:

In this groundbreaking study of post-conflict Sierra Leone, Lyn Graybill examines the ways in which both religion and local tradition supported restorative justice initiatives such as the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and village-level Fambul Tok ceremonies.

Through her interviews with Christian and Muslim leaders of the Inter-Religious Council, Graybill uncovers a rich trove of perspectives about the meaning of reconciliation, the role of acknowledgment, and the significance of forgiveness. Through an abundance of polling data and her review of traditional practices among the various ethnic groups, Graybill also shows that these perspectives of religious leaders did not at all conflict with the opinions of the local population, whose preferences for restorative justice over retributive justice were compatible with traditional values that prioritized reconciliation over punishment.

These local sentiments, however, were at odds with the international community’s preference for retributive justice, as embodied in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which ran concurrently with the TRC. Graybill warns that with the dominance of the International Criminal Court in Africa—there are currently eighteen pending cases in eight countries—local preferences may continue to be sidelined in favor of prosecutions. She argues that the international community is risking the loss of its most valuable assets in post-conflict peacebuilding by pushing aside religious and traditional values of reconciliation in favor of Western legal norms.

Gordon, “Atrocity Speech Law”

In May, Oxford University Press will release Atrocity Speech Law: Foundation, Fragmentation, Fruition by Gregory S. Gordon (Chinese University of Hong Kong). The publisher’s description follows:

Atrocity Speech Law.pngHate speech is widely considered a precondition for mass atrocity. Since the rise of international criminal tribunals after World War II and the development of international criminal law, defendants have been prosecuted for individual speech acts connected to gross human rights violations under charges that have coalesced into direct and public incitement to commit genocide; persecution as a crime against humanity; and instigation. The resulting jurisprudence has been fragmented and confused, and existing scholarship has been focused on particular tribunals or situations. The splintered rulings give inadequate notice to would-be hate speakers as to what speech is prohibited, which weakens prevention efforts and leads to inconsistent results. This is especially problematic considering ongoing atrocity speech prosecutions across the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

This book is the first comprehensive study of the international law encompassing hate speech. Prof. Gordon provides a broad analysis of the entire jurisprudential output related to speech and gross human rights violations for courts, government officials, and scholars. The book is organized into three parts. The first part covers the foundation: a brief history of atrocity speech and the modern treatment of hate speech in international human rights treaties and judgments under international criminal tribunals. The second part focuses on fragmentation: detailing the inconsistent application of the charges and previous prosecutions, including certain categories of inflammatory speech and a growing doctrinal rift between the ICTR and ICTY. The last part covers fruition: recommendations on how the law should be developed going forward, with proposals to fix the problems with individual speech offenses to coalesce into three categories of offense: incitement, speech-abetting, and instigation.

Bielefeldt et al, “Freedom of Religion or Belief”

In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary,” by Heiner Bielefeldt (United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief), Nazila Ghanea (University of Oxford), and Michael Wiener (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and University of Oxford).  The publisher’s description follows:

Violations of religious freedom and violence committed in the name of religion grab our attention on a daily basis. Freedom of Religion or Belief is a 9780198703983key human right, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, numerous conventions, declarations and soft law standards include specific provisions on freedom of religion or belief. The 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief has been interpreted since 1986 by the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Special Rapporteurs (for example those on racism, freedom of expression, minority issues and cultural rights) and Treaty Bodies (for example the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Committee on the Rights of the Child) have also elaborated on freedom of religion or belief in the context of their respective mandates.

Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary is the first commentary to look comprehensively at the international provisions for the protection of freedom of religion or belief, considering how they are interpreted by various United Nations Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies. Structured around the thematic categories of the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s framework for communications, the commentary analyses the limitations on the wearing of religious symbols and vulnerable situations, including those of women, detainees, refugees, children, minorities and migrants, through a combination of scholarly expertise and practical experience.

Lehmann, “Religious NGOs in International Relations”

In February, Routledge will release Religious NGOs in International Relations: 9781138856356The Construction of “the Religious” and “the Secular”, by Karsten Lehmann (International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue – Vienna). The publisher’s description follows:

Over the last 30 years, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become increasingly present in international discourses and active in international decision-making. Among the estimated several million NGOs in existence today, an increasingly visible number of organizations are defining themselves in religious terms – referring to themselves as “religious”, “spiritual”, or “faith-based” NGOs. This book documents the initial encounters between the particularly international segment of those organizations and the UN while at the same time covering the Protestant and Catholic spectrum that dominated the early years of their activities in the UN-context.

This book focuses on the construction of the human rights discourse inside two religiously affiliated organizations: The Commissions of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) and Pax Romana (IMCS / ICMICA). These organizations have been formally accredited as NGOs by the UN, label themselves as religious, and look back upon a long and intense cooperation with the UN. Lehmann presents material from the archives of those two organizations that has so far rarely been used for academic analysis. In doing so, as well as documenting the encounters between those organizations and the UN, and looking at the Protestant and Catholic spectrum, the book provides new insights into the very construction of the notions of ‘the religious’ and the ‘secular’ inside those organizations.

This work will be of great interest to all students of religion and international relations, and will also be of interest to those studying related subjects such as global institutions, comparative politics and international politics.

“The Protection of Religious Minorities Worldwide” (Defeis and O’Connor, eds.)

Last month, Pax Romana released “The Protection of Religious Minorities Worldwide,” edited by Elizabeth F. Defeis (Seton Hall Law School) and Peter F. O’Connor. Prof. Defeis is an alumna of St. John’s Law and a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for International and Comparative Law at St. John’s.  Mr. O’Connor is a third-year law student at St. John’s. The publisher’s description follows:

Throughout history, religious minorities have experienced discrimination, persecution, expulsion, and genocide. Further, in the last decade, the world has witnessed an unprecedented increase in violent persecution of religious minorities, particularly in the Middle East, in Asia and in Africa. Yet the international community has been a bystander and has not been able or willing to develop a strategy to protect persecuted religious minorities and to stop their expulsion and genocide. After the Second World War with the creation of the United Nations, there were great hopes that all peoples could live in peace with one another as good neighbors, based on the fundamental human rights and the practice of tolerance as stated in the Preamble of the United Nations Charter. However, the United Nations never developed specific and effective strategies to protect the human rights of religious minorities and to stop their persecution, expulsion and genocide. Even so, we must recognize that the United Nations has been providing humanitarian assistance to refugees who fled for religious reasons. The 2014 Symposium at the United Nations in New York on the “Protection of Religious Minorities Worldwide” was directed at the international community in the hope that it will acknowledge the dire situation of so many religious minorities and will adopt practical strategies and measures for protection of, and strong humanitarian assistance for, the expelled religious refugees.

Nagamine, “The Legitimization Strategy of the Taliban’s Code of Conduct”

In October, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Legitimization Strategy of the Taliban’s Code of Conduct: Through the One-Way Mirror” by Yoshinobu Nagamine (World Economic Forum, Geneva). The publisher’s description follows:

The Afghan Taliban are often judged against international norms; what is,9781137537164 however, less known is that they have produced their own set of norms designed to guide their conduct. In this insightful study, Yoshinobu Nagamine examines the Taliban’s internal code of conduct, the Layeha. Nagamine analyzes the Layeha in comparison with Islamic Law and international humanitarian law and conducts interviews with Taliban members to understand how they interpret and refer to the Layeha. The results of these interviews give readers an insider’s view of the legitimization strategy of the Taliban leadership. This work makes a significant contribution to research on non-state actors, counterinsurgency, and Islamic fundamentalism, and it serves as an indispensable resource for scholars of the Afghan Taliban.

Wong, “Discerning the Powers in Post-Colonial Africa and Asia”

This month, Springer Press releases “Discerning the Powers in Post-Colonial Africa and Asia: A Treatise on Christian Statecraft,” by Pak Nung Wong (University of Bath).  The publisher’s description follows:

Qualifying post-Westphalian sovereign statehood as a ‘power’ as argued for in Hendrik Berkhoff’s political theology, this book addresses the decades-long theological-spiritual debate between Christian realism and Christian pacifism in U.S. foreign policy and global Christian circles. It approaches the debate by delving into the pacifist Anabaptist political theology and delineates empirically how sovereign statehood in post-colonial Africa and Asia has fallen into the hands of the devil Satan, as a ‘fallen power’ in the Foucaultian terms of power structures, techniques and episteme. While the book offers intervention schemes and options, it holds that Christian statecraft remains the source of hope to effectively address a number of serious global issues. By extension, the book is thus an invitation to ignite debates on the suitability of Christian statecraft and the nexus between spirituality and world politics, making it especially interesting for scholars and students in the fields of International Politics, Politics of Asian and African States, Post-colonial Studies and Political Theology.

Hogan, “Keeping Faith with Human Rights”

This month, the Georgetown University Press releases “Keeping Faith with Human Rights,” by Linda Hogan (Trinity College Dublin). The publisher’s description follows:

The human rights regime is one of modernity’s great civilizing triumphs. From the formal promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to the subsequent embrace of this declaration by the newly independent states of Africa, human rights have emerged as the primary discourse of global politics and as an increasingly prominent category in the international and domestic legal system. But throughout their history, human rights have endured sustained attempts at disenfranchisement.

In this provocative study, Linda Hogan defends human rights language while simultaneously reenvisioning its future. Avoiding problematic claims about shared universal values, Hogan draws on the constructivist strand of political philosophy to argue for a three-pronged conception of human rights: as requirements for human flourishing, as necessary standards of human community, and as the basis for emancipatory politics. In the process, she shows that it is theoretically possible and politically necessary for theologians to keep faith with human rights. Indeed, the Christian tradition—the wellspring of many of the ethical commitments considered central to human rights—must embrace its vital role in the project.

Janssen, “Faith in Public Debate”

In April, Intersentia published “Faith in Public Debate: On Freedom of Expression, Hate Speech and Religion in France and The Netherlands,” by Esther Janssen (University of Amsterdam).  The publisher’s description follows: 

Should a politician be free to fiercely attack the religion of a sector of the population? Should he be allowed to strongly reject the culture of a
 particular minority group? Should religious adherents be allowed to advocate the transition from a democratic to a theocratic state? Should a satirical magazine be free to mock religious figures and practices? These sort of questions concern ‘the place of faith in public debate’ and continue to dominate public discussion that has been fuelled by a series of events, including the terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid and London; the assassination of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh; the affair of the Danish Cartoons; the prosecution of Dutch politician Geert Wilders for his statements on Islam and Muslims; and the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The overarching question triggered by these events concerns the relationship between freedom of expression and the regulation of ‘hate speech’; which forms of hate speech should the state prohibit, on what grounds and by which means? Notably, the restriction of hate speech uttered in the context of the public debate about multiculturalism, immigration, integration and Islam, and of religious fundamentalism has become a topic of lively discussion.

This research constitutes the first international comparative study that provides a profound analysis of the law on hate speech in France and the Netherlands and under European and international law. It thoroughly examines the national legislation, its drafting history, policy and other legal documents and case law including famous legal cases against Dutch politician Geert Wilders, French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen and le Front National, French comedian Dieudonné and satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It also makes reference to the most recent international hate speech literature and discusses its key issues. This book can, thereby, form a source of inspiration for anyone interested or involved in the regulation of hate speech: academics; legislators; judges; prosecutors; politicians; interested citizens; and involved NGO’s and can contribute to the ‘faith in public debate’, by elucidating its possible boundaries.

%d bloggers like this: