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Past Conferences & Events
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Calls for Papers
RF Annual Reviews
2016 Regional Conferences
2016 Annual Review
2016 Africa
2016 Asia
2016 CEU
2016 E. Europe
2016 Oxford
2015 Regional Conferences
2014 Regional Conferences
2013 Regional Conferences
ACLARS Conferences
ICLARS Conferences
G20 Interfaith Summits
Master Level Courses
Training Courses
Religious Liberty Awards
UN Side Events

The Center sponsors, co-sponsors, and participates in numerous conferences annually. To date (late 2016), the Center, since its inception in 2000, has helped organize more than 350 academic conferences and workshops in approximately 50 countries. These events involve government, academic, and religious leaders, and are aimed at making a practical difference in the implementation of religious freedom principles. The Center typically partners with local and international leaders in the field, allowing for diverse viewpoints and backgrounds to be represented in each of the conferences. In addition, Center personnel pariticpate in other events as speakers, teachers, course supervisors, and consultants. Many of these events are featured below (please see the left navigation links for full details).

Image for Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett to receive 2016 International Religious Liberty Award

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies are honored to announce that Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett will be awarded the 2016 International Religious Liberty Award. 

The award will be presented at the International Religious Liberty Awards Dinner to be held at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, 6 October 2016. A keynote address will be given by Dr. David Holland, Associate Professor at Harvard Divinity School and Advisory Board Member of the National Museum of American Religion. The award will be presented to Dr. Lantos Swett following the keynote address.  

Winners of the 2016 Founding Fathers Student Writing Competition will also be recognized at the dinner. 

Dr. Lantos Swett served as Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) from 2012-2016. She was appointed to USCIRF by Senator Harry Reid and served twice as Chair. Dr. Lantos Swett... more

Image for ICLARS: 'Freedom of/for/from/within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?'

The highly successful Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS), co-sponsored with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) of Brigham Young University Law School, the University of Milan, and the Religion, Law and International Relations Programme of the Centre for Christianity and Culture of Regent's Park College, Oxford, has concluded.

The event took place September 8-11, 2016, at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, where some 150 international experts from 37 countries gathered to discuss the conference themes, "Freedom of/ for/ from/ within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?", to participate in two important book launches (see below*), and to share information about Journals, Book Seriies, and Associations and Centers dealing with law and religion and religious freedom worldwide. 

Also at this event, new members of the ICLARS Steering Committee were approved, and Professor Ana María Celis Brunet, Director of the Center of Religious Liberty of the Faculty of Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (Santiago), was installed as ICLARS President, replacing W. Cole Durham, Jr. of Brigham Young University.

Please watch this space for recordings, written presentations, and photographs from this outstanding event as they become available.

The International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies is an international network of scholars... more

Image for Fourth ICLARS Conference, in Oxford: 'Freedom of/for/from/within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?' 8-11 September 2016

The Fourth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) has concluded at St. Hugh’s College in Oxford.

The Conference topic — "Freedom of/ for/ from/ within Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?" — aimed at considering the fundamental right of freedom of religion from differing perspectives, shedding light on its various and interconnected facets and addressing new challenges it faces in the modern world. Freedom of religion highlights the right to profess and manifest religion on both individual and collective levels, without undue limitations; freedom for religion stresses the need to grant religious communities the freedom required to play a positive role in building a just and cohesive society; freedom from religion underlines the right to live one’s life without being compelled to respect the tenets of any particular religion; freedom within religion addresses the rights that the faithful are entitled to enjoy within their religious communities. 

Speakers at the conference included some 150 international experts in matters concerning the conference themes, from 37 countries. 

Image for G20 Interfaith Summit 2016 in China: “Dialogue among Civilizations and Community of Common Destiny for All Mankind'
Ganoune Diop with Rt. Rev. Yoshinobu Miyake during the G20 Interfaith Summit in Hangzhou, China.
[Courtesy of Ganoune Diop]

Hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and jointly sponsored by the Institute of World Religions and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University, a unique event took place in Beijing, China, 30 August – 1 September 2016, simultaneously with the meeting of world leaders for the G20 Economic Summit in Hangzhou. Chinese scholars joined with other international experts to discuss the topic “Dialogue among Civilizations and Community of Common Destiny for All Mankind".

International experts participating in the event included Paul Babie and Carolyn Evans (Australia), Elizabeta Kitanović (working in Belgium), Rodrigo Vitorino Souza Alves (Brazil), James Christie and Karen Hamilton (Canada), Katayoun Alidadi (working in Germany), Tahir Mahmood and Faizan Mustafa (India), Asher Maoz (Israel), Marco Ventura (Italy), Rt. Rev. Yoshinobu Miyake (Japan), Liviu Olteanu (Switzerland), Recep Şentürk (Turkey), Frederick W Axelgard, Ram Cnaan, Ganoune Diop, Cole Durham, Katherine Marshall, Brett Scharffs, and Sherrie Steiner (United States).

Please see reports of the event below... more

Image for Cole Durham Participates in 18th IRLA 'Meeting of Experts' at Harvard University
Photo credit: Nelu Burcea

A group of scholars gathered together on August 16-18, 2016, at Harvard University for the 18th 'Meeting of Experts'. The international panel of scholars and attorneys is convened annually by the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA), an independent advocacy organization founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This year's meeting focused on the paradox that while the principle of religious freedom is gaining foothold within international law, restrictions on religious practice continue to rise.

Professor Cole Durham was among the esteemed presenters at the meeting. Other presenters included David Little, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Divinity School; Rosa Maria Martines de Codes, History Professor at Complutense University in Madrid; Pasquale Annichino, Research Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy; Dudley Rose, Associate Dean of Harvard Divinity... more

Image for The Religious Freedom Annual Review — July 2016

The 2016 Religious Freedom Annual Review of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) has concluded at Brigham Young University. Keynote speakers for the event were Elder Lance B. Wickman, General Counsel and Emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who opened the conference with an address "Promoting Religious Freedom in a Secular Age: Fundamental Principles, Practical Priorities, and Fairness for All"; and Matthew S. Holland, President, Utah Valley University, whose remarks were titled "Religious Liberty v. Secularity: Is the American Founding Still Useful?"

Video recordings of event presentations, as well as some transcriptions and PowerPoint presentations, will be available here soon. Meantime, find reports of the event from the Deseret News (Day One) (Day Two), Salt Lake Tribune, Provo Daily Herald, Good4Utah,... more

Image for Durham Keynotes at Judicial Roundtable in Abuja, Nigeria – 20 June 2016

On June 20, Professor Cole Durham gave the keynote address for a Judicial Roundtable of approximately 100 judges in Abuja, Nigeria. Among the participants in the Roundtable were Professor Is-haq Oloyede, OFR, The National Coordinator/Secretary, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Member Steering Committee ACLARS; Wahab Shittu, Coordinator Center for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos; Hon. Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, Justice of the Court of Appeal, Nigeria; Denise Lindberg, Senior Judge, State of Utah Third Judicial District Court; Hon. Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Representing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed; Prof Yemi Osinbajo GCON (SAN), Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Hon, Justice A. O. Lukolu-Sodipe, Court of Appeal; Malam A. U.  Maidama, representing Hon. Justice R. P. I Bozimo, Administrator, NJI; Professor Akinola Ibidapo-Obe, Dean, Faculty of Law and Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria; and a Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal, Nigeria.

Image for Durham at Conference and Course at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria

On June 22, 2016, Professor Cole Durham delivered the keynote address and several lectures for a conference and mini-course attended by approximately 500 students and young scholars on "Law, Religion and Development in Africa" at the University of Ilorin, in Ilorin, Nigeria. 

The topics covered during the Ilorin conference included:

  • Law and Religion Studies in Nigeria: The journey so far.
  • Law, Religion and Development.
Facilators of the event. in addtion to Professor Durham, were
... more
Image for Freedom of Religion or Belief in Situations of Crisis: Tallinn, Estonia, 16-19 June 2016

The Center co-sponsored a conference with the University of Tartu Faculty of Law in Estonia, “Freedom of Religion or Belief in Situations of Crisis: Why Can’t We Get Along,” held June 17-18 in Tallinn, Estonia.  The conference addressed current challenges to religious freedom from crisis situations, particularly those associated with the migration crisis in Europe and the conflict in Ukraine.  Over 50 speakers touched on both the nature of the challenges and on potential solutions.  Topics included: 

  • Freedom of Religion or Belief of Refugees and Migrants
  • Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Conflict Zone
  • Hate Speech and Migration
... more
Image for Durham Keynote on Women's and Children's Rights Thessaloniki – June 2016

Professor Cole Durham, Founding Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law, Brigham Young University, gave the keynote address gave the keynote lecture on Women’s and Children’s Rights in the International Legal Framework at the Summer School on Human Rights sponsored by the Council of European Churches (CEC) in Thessaloniki, Greece May 31-4 June, 2016. 

Press Release 6 June 2016, from CEC, Brussels: 

The Conference of European Churches, in partnership with the Theological School of Aristotle University, organised the 3rd Annual Summer School on Human Rights “Stand up for Women’s and Children’s Rights!” from 31 May to 4 June in... more

Image for Freedom of Religion or Belief: Round Table Discussion in the UK House of Lords - June 2016
L-R: Mark Hill QC, Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor Robert George, Dr. Peter Petkoff, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Professor Cole Durham (Photo LDS Church)

A Round Table Discussion, Freedom of Religion or Belief – Emerging Trends, Challenges and Agendas for Change, took place Wednesday, 8th June 2016, at the House of Lords in London. Participating in the two-hour discussion were Prof Sir Malcolm Evans OBE (Bristol University UK), Prof Mark Hill QC (Cardiff University UK), Prof Robert P. George (Princeton University USA), Elder Dallin H. Oaks (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Prof W. Cole Durham, Jr. (Brigham Young University USA), and Dr Peter Petkoff (Brunel and Regent’s Park College, Oxford UK). The participants were welcomed to Parliament by Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Member of the House of Lords and Founder/Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group.... more

Image for Symposium on International Religious Freedom, St. John's College, Oxford UK - June 2016
Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, Professor Robert George, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Professor Cole Durham (Photo LDS Church)

International religious freedom experts participating in a Symposium on International Religious Freedom at St. John's College, Oxford on 9 June 2016 were Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Baroness Elizabeth Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Member of the United Kingdom House of Lords and Founder/Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and formerly member and chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom; W. Cole Durham, Jr., Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at Brigham Young University, Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and President of the International... more

Image for First-of-its-kind Master’s Degree in Sharia and Human Rights Announced - May 2016

ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs participated in the announcement of the creation of the first-of-its-kind Master’s Degree Program on Sharia and Human Rights at Muhammadiyah University in Malang, Indonesia. The announcement came on May 30, 2016, at the opening of the fifth annual Master’s Level Course on Sharia and Human Rights held at the University, which Scharffs has helped organize and teach. The Masters’ level Course (MLC), which began five years ago as a special side-course, has now been approved as an official for-credit course in the University’s curriculum. And now a full Master’s Degree focusing on Sharia and Human Rights will build upon the curriculum used in the MLC.... more

Image for Brett Scharffs at Third Yogyakarta Short Course on Sharia and Human Rights - May 2016

Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in a Short Course on "Sharia and Human Rights: Scholarly Background and Cases of Controversy in Contemporary Indonesia," held at Universitas Gadjah Mada, one of Indonesia’s leading state universities, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from May 23-27, 2016. This was the third year Professor Scharffs helped organize and teach in this program. 

The Short Course, which was modeled on a similar course at Muhammadiyah University that was taught for the fifth time the following week, is designed to find networks of discourse between two very different types of legal systems – International Human Rights law and Islamic Law. The course brings together leading experts from Indonesia and beyond on... more

Image for 4th ACLARS Conference: 'Religious Pluralism, Heritage, and Social Development in Africa'

More than 60 scholars, legal professionals, and religious leaders from Africa and many other parts of the world joined in the Fourth Conference of the African Consortium of Law and Religion Studies (ACLARS), held Sunday, 22 May to Tuesday, 24 May, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A workshop for early career scholars was held immediately prior to the conference on May 22. The theme of the conference, which was hosted by Addis Ababa University and held at the Capital Hotel, was "Religious Pluralism, Heritage, and Social Development in Africa".

Awol Wagris, Ethiopia State Minister of Federal and Pastoralist Affairs, delivered the opening speech of the conference: "Looking ahead," he said, "the greatest challenges our country faces with regard to the protection of religious freedom and promotion... more

Image for Religious Freedom and Security: Central European University, Budapest, 20-21 May 2016

The Department of Legal Studies at Central European University and the International Center of Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University co-sponsored a conference in Budapest, Hungary on 20-21 May 2016. The conference titled Religious Freedom and Security explored topics such as addressing the religious factor in conflict settings, rights and security, and approaches to religion and security issues.

The conference opened with a welcome and introduction by Renáta Uitz, Chair of the Comparative Constitutional Law Program at CEU, followed by a keynote address by Husain Haqqani, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, and currently Director for South and Central Asia, Hudson Institute, Washington DC. Professors W. Cole Durham, Jr., Founding Director, and Brett G. Scharffs, Director, represented ICLRS in... more

Image for Professor Scharffs Lectures on Hate Speech at the University of Padua - May 2016

On May 6th, 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, spoke at a conference on Comparative Perspectives on Hate Speech, at the Treviso Campus of the University of Padua. The conference included students studying comparative public law and economic and social rights. In his speech, "Beyond Juris Centric Approaches to Hate Speech," Professor Scharffs addressed the role that audiences play in the phenomenology of hate speech. He noted that usually hate speech does not result in direct physical harm to either the speaker or the victim of hate speech, but audiences are often provoked to violence. But it is noteworthy that often there is a significant passage of time between the initial hate speech and the violent reaction that the hate speech... more

Image for Professor Scharffs Presents on Religious Majorities and Religious Freedom - May 2016

At a recent gathering of a select group of university professors, businesspeople, NGO organizations, and students in Padua, Italy on 6 May 2016, Professor Brett Scharffs made a dinner presentation and led a discussion on the topic of the role that religious majorities play in either promoting or limiting religious freedom. The presentation was organized by the Associazone Culturale Antonio Rosmini, Padova. 

In his presentation, Professor Scharffs noted that in most countries where there is a dominant religious group representing more than 70% of the population, social science research finds there is usually high or very high legal... more

Image for Professors Durham and Scharffs Teach Comparative Freedom of Religion at CEU - 2016

Professor Brett Scharffs and Professor Cole Durham, Director and Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young Universtiy, have concluded their annual course, Comparative Freedom of Religion, in the Department of Legal Studies at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. The class, begun by Professor Durham in April and concluded by Professor Scharffs on May 5, 2016, included 26 students from 18 different countries, and addressed law and religion issues regarding both individual freedom of religion and belief and institutional arrangements between religion and the state from an international law and comparative law perspective.... more

Image for 'Sacred Places and Cultural Heritage' — Jerusalem Conference, 15-17 March 2016

ICLRS Director, W. Cole Durham, Jr., participated in the conference “Sacred Places and Heritage Protection from the Perspectives of International, Constitutional, Religious Law and Foreign Policy” in Jerusalem, March 15-17, 2016. Based on the growing concern for cultural heritage protection during armed conflict, international experts working in the field of legal protection of sacred places and cultural heritage gathered together to explore emerging systemic problems on the ground, innovative approaches and agendas for change in terms of substantive law at the international as well as domestic level, as well as considerations for foreign policy.

The opening session, "Sacred Places and Heritage Protection: Emerging Perspectives", was moderated by Asher Maoz, Dean of Peres Academic Center Law School, and featured W. Cole Durham, President, International Consortium for Law and... more

Image for Brett Scharffs and BYU Law Students in Venice for Conference and Moot Court Competition
Photo credit: Fondazione Marcianum

Professor Brett Scharffs, Center Associate Director and Law School Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum, participated at the conference "The Legitimate Scope of Religious Establishment", held March 7-9, 2016 in Venice, Italy.  The conference was sponsored by the Fondazione Studium Generale Marcianum (Fondazione Marcianum), and features prominent academics from throughout the world, assembled to discuss such questions as "What are the essential features of establishment regimes? Should any limits be set to the establishment of religion? Are there any means of support that should be ruled out? May a decent state grant preferential treatment to one religion over other religions (or some of them)? If so, on which basis could... more

Image for Professor Durham speaks at Freedom of Religion Symposium in Denver, 12 March 2016

On the 12th of March 2016, Professor Cole Durham participated in a Freedom of Religion Symposium at the University of Denver Law School, Denver, CO. Professor Durham was part of a panel of religious liberty experts and practitioners discussing the fundamentals of religious liberty law, emerging conflicts, and steps individuals can take to promote religious freedom at the state and local community level. Steven T. Collis, an attorney at Holland & Hart, chaired the event. Other panelists were Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Timothy M. Tymkovich, Chief Judge, US Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit; Qusair Mohamedbhai, Partner, Rathod/Mohamedbhair, LLC, and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Denver; and Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director, Colorado Catholic Conference. The primary sponsor of the event was Holland and Hart, with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Chipman/Glasser, and Hall Render providing additional sponsorship.

Program/Speaker Recordings

Image for Kirkhams Represent the Center at Copt Commemorative Service in London

On 10 February 2016 David Kirkham, Center Senior Fellow and Director of the BYU London Centre, and his wife Judy represented ICLRS at a Coptic service commemorating the anniversary of the 21 Copts murdered by religious extremists in Libya in 2015 for being "people of the cross." The service, held at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, Palace of Westminster, United Kingdom, was presided over by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and introduced by The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.  Bishop Angaelos spoke of his compassion for the victims and their families, for whom they were in Egypt trying to make a living, as well as for the need for prayer for victims and perpetrators alike.

Image for Brett Scharffs Speaks at St. John's Law School Colloquium in Law and Religion
Photo courtesy of the Center for Law and Religion
at St. John's Law School

On February 1st 2016 Professor Brett Scharffs spoke at the Center for Law and Religion at St. John's Law School as part of its third biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion. This seminar invites leading law and religion scholars to make presentations to an audience of students and faculty. Professor Scharffs was the first speaker of the ongoing series.

The following was taken from an article on the Center for Law and Religion's website:

This week, the Center hosted BYU Law School Professor Brett... more