“Freedom of Conscience” Conference – Blagoveshchensk, Russia, 19-21 April 2010

The X international academic conference “Freedom of Conscience: International Standards and Experience in National Implementation,” with emphasis upon the Russian Far East and Countries of the Asia-Pacific Region, was held in Blagoveshchensk, Russia, 19-21 April 2010. Bringing together government officials, scholars, journalists, and religious leaders from across Russia, predominantly from the Russian Far East, the conference raised issues of national and international religious freedom norms and the interplay of these with government and education policy. Key conference participants included Andrei Sebentsov, Mikhail Odintsov, Vladimir Ryakovsky, and Kimitaka Matsuzato, and ICLRS Associate Director Elizabeth A. Sewell.  The conference was organized and sponsored by the Government of the Amur Region; the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice, Division for Amur Region; Human Rights Ombudsman for Amur Region; Russia-Wide Public Organization “Association of Researchers of Religion”; Russia-Wide Public Organization “Znanie” Society; Blagoveshchensk Division of the Economic Moscow Academy of Entrepreneurship under the direction of the Moscow Government; Blagoveshchensk State Pedagogical University; and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. 

Professor Sewell presented a paper “Understanding Freedom of Conscience: Recent Developments in the European Court of Human Rights.” Among the many conference participants unable to arrive because of travel restrictions caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland was ICLRS Director W. Cole Durham, Jr. His paper, “Freedom of Religion in the U.S. and the European Court of Human Rights: Comparative Perspectives,” was read at the conference. Professor Sewell reports in spite of the reduced attendance, the conference was successful, with fruitful dialogue helping to develop and support the limited but growing number of scholars dealing with religious issues in this vast part of Russia.