Religious Liberty in International Human Rights Law

Kristine Kalanges

in Religious Liberty in Western and Islamic Law

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199859467
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933518 | DOI:
Religious Liberty in International Human Rights Law

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Freedom of religion did not become a legal reality until the modern era (e.g., through the First Amendment), and even as late as the Second World War, one global study declared a total absence of “a generally accepted postulate of international law that every State is under legal obligation to accord religious liberty within its jurisdiction.” However, in the relatively brief historical period since, freedom of religion or belief has become just such an accepted postulate of international law. This chapter explores key elements of that development, beginning with an examination of religious liberty provisions in international human rights law—the major documents and treaties, as well as issues of special concern. Next, it briefly considers two additional sources of international rights monitoring and enforcement: the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, it discusses the twentieth-century contributions of religious institutions to religious liberty, focusing on the role of the Catholic Church in elaborating a moral foundation for religious freedom and championing it as a pathway to peace.

Keywords: freedom of religion; international human rights law; U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; European Court of Human Rights; religious institutions; Catholic Church

Chapter.  11759 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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