Around the Web

Around the Web

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

Around the Web

Around the Web

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

Around the Web

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

“The Encyclopedia of Law and Religion” (Robbers et al, eds.)

In June, Brill Publishing will release “The Encyclopedia of Law and Religion” edited by Gerhard Robbers (Minister of Justice for Consumer Protection of Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany)), and W. Cole Durham, Jr. (Brigham Young University).  The publisher’s description follows:

In recent years, issues of freedom of religion or belief and state-religion relations have become increasingly important worldwide. While some works have treated 54747such issues regionally, the Encyclopedia of Law and Religion is unique in its breadth, covering all independent nations and jurisdictions as well as the major international organizations, treating the relation between law and religion in its various aspects, including those related to the role of religion in society, the relations between religion and state institutions, freedom of religion, legal aspects of religious traditions, the interaction between law and religion, and other issues at the junction of law, religion, and state.

Offered online and in five print volumes – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania, Special Territories, International Organizations and Index – this work is a valuable resource for religious and legal scholars alike.

America Media Hosts Panel Discussion on International Religious Freedom

America Media, publisher of America Magazine, will host a panel discussion on international religious freedom. The discussion will be held at 6pm on March 30th at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in New York City.

A group of experts will discuss the current hopes and challenges facing the world today in the exercise of religious freedom. Presenters include Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, Associate Professor of International Relations, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.; and Drew Christiansen, S.J., Distinguished Professor of of Ethics and Development at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. The discussion will be moderated by Matt Malone, S.J., president and editor in chief of America Media, and is made possible through a partnership with the Catholic Communications Campaign.

Find more details here. RSVP by calling 212-515-0153 or by emailing events@americamedia.org.

Center for Law and Religion Hosts Dr. Pasquale Annicchino

MLM Class 1

Professors DeGirolami, Annicchino and Movsesian with Seminar Students

We were delighted to have our old friend, Dr. Pasquale Annicchino of the EsportareEuropean University Institute in Florence, visit with us yesterday. Pasquale gave a presentation in Mark’s Comparative Law & Religion seminar about his brand new book, Esportare La Libertà Religiosa: Il Modello Americano Nell’arena Globale [“Exporting Religious Freedom: The American Model in the Global Arena”] (Il Mulino). (For those that may not know, il Mulino is Italy’s most prestigious publisher). The book’s primary concern is about the influence of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 on international conceptions of religious liberty, and the different sorts of ideological and related resistance that the American model has encountered. The book has been discussed and reviewed in Il Corriere della Sera, Il Foglio, and The Economist.

Here’s the description of the book:

Con l’adozione nel 1998 dell’lnternational Religious Freedom Act gli Stati Uniti hanno posto al centro della loro politica estera la protezione e la promozione del diritto di libertà religiosa. Le istituzioni e le politiche che sono seguite hanno permesso agli Stati Uniti di ergersi a modello di iniziativa per la tutela della libertà religiosa nell’arena globale. Lungi dal rimanere un esperimento isolato, l’iniziativa statunitense ha influenzato l’Unione Europea, il Canada, il Regno Unito e l’Italia. Il volume analizza il modello normativo-istituzionale americano e passa in rassegna i sistemi che ad esso si sono ispirati. Ne risulta una libertà religiosa indebolita nella sua concezione universale ed unitaria e minacciata da specifici interessi politici e nazionali.

[With the adoption in 1998 of the International Religious Freedom Act the United States placed the protection and promotion of religious freedom at the center of its foreign policy. The institutions and politics that followed allowed the United States to raise up its initiative as a model for the defense of religious freedom in the global arena. Far from being an isolated experiment, the US initiative has influenced the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Italy. This volume analyzes the American normative-institutional model and surveys the systems that it has inspired. What has resulted is the weakening of religious freedom as a universal conception, threatened by specific political and national interests.]

Allitt on Europe and Cultural Difference

In reading this old review in the University Bookman by the historian Patrick Allitt of a rather grim book by Thomas Molnar, I came across the following lines about European unity (circa the late 1990s) and the relationship of aspirations to unity and the realities of historical and cultural difference. They reminded me of a few of the themes that emerged in our conference on international religious freedom this summer:

The idea of a united Europe, [Molnar] believes, is itself an American notion, even though it has fired the imagination of “Europeans” like Jacques Delors with all-but-evangelical intensity. Although I have my differences with him, this is a point where I find Molnar convincing: the idea of a united Europe is no more than an idle fantasy, contradicted at every point by history, and advocated at present only by businessmen and their political cronies who anticipate large profits. The European Community has homogenized, standardized, and centralized its affairs, chipping away at local traditions, undermining regional authorities, always advancing with its soothing rhetoric about peace, goodwill, and efficiency, and favoring the mild curiosity of tourism over the heroic self-discipline of cultural creation. But “Europe” has never been able to still ancient animosities, many of which still smolder beneath the civil surface. What’s more, it has only to glance a degree or two eastwards to remember some hard truths. Eastern Europe, though also prey to “Atlantic” delusions, is both literally and figuratively further from the great waters and a standing denial of “European” dreams. Swept first by the barbarian invasions, later by the Ottoman Empire, and more recently by the Nazis and the Soviet Union, fraught with fanatical hatreds of the sort which exploded the idea of Yugoslavia, let alone European unity, it promises to act the part of Banquo’s ghost at all Atlantic feasts.

Pope Francis’s Remarks on Religious Freedom for Our Conference (DeGirolami trans.)

I took a shot at translating Pope Francis’s remarks on religious freedom, which he addressed to the participants at our conference on international religious freedom. I have tried to be faithful to the text, sacrificing a bit of readability. I have done this in part because some partial translations I’ve seen are not true enough to the original, even if the resulting translation here still leaves some open spaces in meaning (which, at any rate, should not be filled by the translator). Here is the original in Italian. I’ve also got a few comments at the end of the translation.

I welcome you on the occasion of your international conference, dear brothers and sisters. I thank Professor Giuseppe Dalla Torre for his courteous words. 

Recently the debate about religious freedom has become very intense, asking questions of both governments and religious denominations. The Catholic Church, in this respect, refers to the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, one of the most important documents of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II.

In effect, every human being is a “seeker” of truth about his own origins and his own destiny. In his mind and in his heart arise questions and thoughts that cannot be repressed or suffocated, inasmuch as they emerge from the deeps and are by nature connected with the intimate essence of the person. These are religious questions and they demand religious freedom to manifest themselves fully. These questions seek to shed light on the authentic meaning of existence, on the ties that connect it to the cosmos and to history, and they mean to pierce the darkness by which the human condition would be surrounded if such questions were not asked or if they remained answerless. The Psalmist says: “When I see your heavens, work of your fingers/ the moon and the stars that you have fixed, / what then is man that you would remember him, / a son of man that you would care for him?” Psalms 8: 3-4.

Reason recognizes in religious freedom a fundamental right of man that reflects his highest dignity, that of the capacity to seek the truth and to adhere to it, and recognizes in that right an indispensable condition in order to deploy his own potentialities. Religious freedom is not only the freedom of a thought or of a private sect. It is freedom to live according to ethical principles consequent to discovered truth, whether privately or publicly. This is a great challenge in the globalized world, where weak thought—which is like a disease—lowers the general ethical level, and in the name of a false notion of tolerance ends by persecuting those who defend the truth about man and that truth’s ethical consequences.

Legal regimes, national or international, are called to recognize, guarantee, and protect religious freedom, which is a right that inheres intrinsically in the nature of man, in his dignity as a free being, and is also an indicator of a healthy democracy and one of the principal fonts of the legitimacy of the state.

Religious freedom, implemented in constitutions and in laws and translated into coherent behaviors, favors the development of relationships of mutual respect among the different faiths and their healthful collaboration with the state and political society, without confusion of roles and without antagonisms. In place of the global conflict of values, coming from a nucleus of universally shared values, a global collaboration in view of the common good becomes possible. 

By the light of the acquisitions of reason, confirmed and perfected by revelation, and of the civil progress of peoples, it is incomprehensible and worrisome that, even today, in the world there remain discriminations and restrictions of rights for the sole reason of belonging to and professing publicly a certain faith. It is unacceptable that true and actual persecutions exist for reasons of religious membership! And wars too! This wounds reason, attacks peace, and humiliates the dignity of man.

It is a motive of great pain for me to observe that Christians in the world suffer the largest number of such discriminations. Persecution against Christians today is even more powerful than in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs than in that era. This is happening more than 1700 years after the edict of Constantine, which granted freedom to Christians to profess their faith publicly.

I hope profoundly that your conference illustrates with depth and scientific rigor the reasons that today oblige the legal order to respect and defend religious freedom. I thank you for this contribution. I ask you to pray for me. From my heart I wish you the best and I ask God to bless you. Thank you.

Some brief thoughts:

1. A note on the fourth paragraph with Patrick Brennan’s good questions in mind. According to my translation, the Pope did not say that “every person has a right to seek the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.” The full paragraph fragment in Italian is:

La ragione riconosce nella libertà religiosa un diritto fondamentale dell’uomo che riflette la sua più alta dignità, quella di poter cercare la verità e di aderirvi, e riconosce in essa una condizione indispensabile per poter dispiegare tutta la propria potenzialità. La libertà religiosa non è solo quella di un pensiero o di un culto privato. E’ libertà di vivere secondo i principi etici conseguenti alla verità trovata, sia privatamente che pubblicamente.

The phrase in question, as well as the entire paragraph fragment, is more faithfully translated as “discovered truth” rather than “the truth that one has found” ; “discovered truth” refers back to the same truth that is being sought for in the previous section of this paragraph.

2. Note the reference to the “global clash of values” in paragraph six–a specific comment on our conference–and the Pope’s statement that such a clash can be overcome. That struck me as relevant to the discussion that Tom Berg and I have been having here, here, and here.

3. Nevertheless, in spite of his optimism about the prospects for religious freedom, the Pope expresses great distress about the plight of Christians in the world today, as can be seen in the paragraphs toward the close of the speech.

UPDATE: Revised Conference Agenda– “International Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values”

Here is the updated schedule for our upcoming conference, International Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values, in Rome, Italy on June 20-21. If you happen to be in Rome, it would be great to have you!

The Center for International and Comparative Law and the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s School of Law, and the Department of Law at the Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta, are pleased to present an academic conference:

International Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values

Taking place in Rome on Friday, June 20, 2014, and Saturday, June 21, 2014, the conference will bring together American and European scholars and policymakers to discuss the place of religious freedom in international law and politics. Speakers will address a variety of perspectives. Proceedings will be in English and Italian with simultaneous translation.

Revised Conference Agenda

Friday, June 20, 2014

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Lunch

2:30 – 2:45 p.m.
Welcome

2:45 – 4 p.m.
Keynote Panel
Religious Freedom in International Law, Yesterday and Today
Thomas Farr (Georgetown University)
John Witte, Jr. (Emory University)
Moderator: Marc DeGirolami (St. John’s University)

4:15 – 5:30 p.m.
Panel 1: The Politics of International Religious Freedom
Pasquale Annicchino (European University Institute)
Heiner Bielefeldt (UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief)
Hon. Ken Hackett (US Ambassador to the Holy See)
Moderator: Margaret E. McGuinness (St. John’s University)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

8:30 – 9 a.m.
Coffee

9 – 10:15 a.m.
Panel 2: Comparative Perspectives on International Religious Freedom
Francisca Pérez-Madrid (University of Barcelona)
Marco Ventura (Catholic University Leuven and University of Siena)
Roberto Zaccaria (University of Florence)
Moderator: Monica Lugato (LUMSA)

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.
Coffee

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.
Panel 3: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on International Religious Freedom
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (Emory University)
Olivier Roy (European University Institute)
Nina Shea (Hudson Institute)
Moderator: Mark L. Movsesian (St. John’s University)

Noon – 12:30 p.m.
Conference Conclusions
Giuseppe Dalla Torre
LUMSA

Location
LUMSA, Complesso del Giubileo
via di Porta Castello, 44 – Roma

Registration
Please register to attend the conference by June 9 at: eventi@lumsa.it

More Information
Monica Lugato | LUMSA Department of Law | monicalugato@lumsa.it
Mark L. Movsesian | St. John’s School of Law |Mark.Movsesian@stjohns.edu

Posner on the New 19th Century Regime

Religious freedom is generally considered one of the fundamental “international human rights” that international institutions are enlisted to protect and propound. This is much more Mark’s area of specialty than mine, but lately I’ve been thinking about the state of play in the international community with respect to religious freedom. Mark’s post below on the misperception of Vladimir Putin’s aims and the broader lack of understanding as between WEIRD cultures and those many others with different views is an important reminder that it would be a mistake to assume congruence or convergence in the world at large with respect to those values that we, for various culturally specific reasons, deem fundamental.

It was in the light of these musings that I found Eric Posner’s new post at Foreign Policy–Sorry, America, the New World Order is Dead–a bracing and insightful read. A bit:

The second pillar of the post-Cold War order was recognition of human rights. Under international human rights law, all governments must respect the rights of their citizens. While the number, nature, and scope of those rights are contested — and while many countries that signed onto human rights treaties argued that rights must be interpreted in light of their own religious, traditional, or practical commitments — the new liberal order envisioned a world that abided by the basic terms of liberal democracy. The Soviet Union’s collapse seemed to provide spectacular vindication for this view and to portend its universal acceptance.

Yet the human rights regime has failed as well. It has become increasingly clear that many countries simply disregard their human rights commitments. Russia, for example, has moved toward authoritarianism despite its ratification of universal human rights treaties and its accession to the relatively robust European Convention on Human Rights, which empowers people to bring cases against their governments. China has certainly not liberalized. Most developing countries lack the capacity to implement their human rights commitments, even when their governments and publics support them. Even Western countries violated the spirit of these treaties by taking harsh measures against al Qaeda in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks….

Back in the 1990s, at the height of optimism about international law, academics believed that they had to answer a puzzle. The four pillars of the new international legal system self-evidently embodied a liberal worldview that countries like China and Russia did not subscribe to and that indeed most countries outside the West had traditionally rejected. So what would compel these countries to obey international law? An enormous number of theories were produced, with their accompanying buzzwords: Countries complied with international law because their leaders had internalized the law. Or because they were bound by cooperative networks of judges and bureaucrats from different countries. Or because domestic and international NGOs put pressure on violators. Or because countries had become interdependent. Or simply because it was fair. At the heart of all these theories was the assumption that all countries complied with international law more or less equally.

The most obvious explanation for legal compliance was all but ignored. Countries obeyed international law in the post-Cold War period because the United States and, to a lesser extent, Europe forced them to do so. Part of the explanation, of course, was that with the Soviet Union’s collapse, the liberal order gained significant prestige. But much of the explanation lies in the fact that countries feared that if they did not play by the rules set by the West, they would be deprived of aid, investment, technical cooperation, and opportunities to trade — and, in extreme cases, might be threatened with sanctions and military force.

If this explanation wasn’t clear in the 1990s, it is clear now. As the United States loses power, it has become obvious that no one else will guarantee the peaceful settlement of disputes, enforce human rights, or ensure that international criminals are tried and convicted….

Put another way, the liberal order that was born with the Soviet Union’s collapse rested on a fiction: that all nations were equal and submitted to the same rules because they reflected universal human values. In reality, of course, the rules were Western rules, and they were enforced largely by the United States, which was no one’s equal. Today, the fiction has been exposed, and the world order looks increasingly like the one that reigned during the 19th century. In this order, a small group of “great powers” sets the rules for their relations with each other and interacts under conditions of rough equality. Smaller countries survive by establishing client relationships with the great powers. The great powers compete with each other over these client relationships, but otherwise try to maintain conditions of stability that allow for trade and other forms of cooperation. The major challenge for the great powers is to ensure that competition for clients does not erupt into full-scale war.

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