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Religious freedom and human rights in constitutions

Published on 5. September 2014, 10:14 h

Conference at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF)

Religion and religious freedom are not just a current and pressing topic in countries such as Egypt that are presently drafting new constitutions. When both drawing up and interpreting constitutions, experts also look at those of other countries and the experiences gained there. ‘Constitutional migration’ is the name given to the process by which ideas and concepts from one constitution transfer to another constitution. How this proceeds with reference to relations between the state and religion and particularly with reference to religious freedom is the topic of a conference to be held at Bielefeld’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) from 11 to 13. September.

It’s not just people who travel from one country to another; laws and elements of constitutions do it as well. For example, the concept of secularism (separation of church and state) in the Turkish constitution comes from France; the idea of the Islamic republic migrated from Pakistan across Iran to Egypt. There has been hardly any research on these processes and what happens to concepts adopted from other constitutions when they are adapted to fit new national settings. To fill this gap, the political scientists Professor Dr. Mirjam Künkler  (Princeton University, USA), Shylashri Shankar PhD (Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, India), and Professor Dr. Tine Stein (Kiel University, Germany) have invited 20 internationally renowned experts to the ZiF. ‘We are particularly familiar with the way that concepts regulating relations between the state and religion migrate from countries in the west to those in the south and the east. However, our conference addresses trends that are less well known – in China, India, Nepal, and the Philippines, for example, and, of course, in the Arab world. We are interested in religious freedom, how international law and the international spread of human rights influence religious freedom, and the problems arising from translations between cultures and constitutions,’ explains Mirjam Künkler.
The title of the conference is ‘Constitutionalism, Religious Freedom and Human Rights: Constitutional Migration and Transjudicalism beyond the North Atlantic’, and it is being held by the ZiF Research Group ‘Balancing Religious Accommodation and Human Rights in Constitutional Frameworks’ that will carry on working at the ZiF until November 2014.

Media representatives are cordially invited to report on the conference.

Further information is available online at:
www.uni-bielefeld.de/ZIF/FG/2014Balancing/events/09-10-Kuenkler.html

Contact for academic queries:
Prof. Dr. Mirjam Künkler, Princeton University
Near Eastern Studies Department
Email: kuenkler@princeton.edu

Contact for organisational queries:
Aaron Glasserman, Bielefeld University
Center for Interdisciplinary Research
Telephone: 0521 106-12831
Email: aaron.glasserman@uni-bielefeld.de

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