RELIGARE Final Conference: Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe

RELIGARE (‘Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe: Innovative Approaches to Law and Policy’) is a 2012 European framework project focusing on the ways in which European states govern the diversity of religions and beliefs within their territories. Its ultimate aim is to advance ‘promising practices’ through an in-depth comparative study of case law and sociological data on the freedom of religion and the right to nondiscrimination. A two-day conference held 4-5 December offered a unique opportunity to discuss and reflect upon the projects key findings.  

This event was co-organised by the Institute for Human Rights and the Faculty of Canon Law at KU Leuven, and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

  • The first day (4 December – University of Leuven) was dedicated to a detailed presentation and an in-depth discussion of the research results among RELIGARE partners and external scholars and experts.
  • The first day was followed by an evening panel (University of Leuven), featuring a keynote speech by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the Council of the European Union. 
  • The second day (5 December – Brussels) situated the RELIGARE research findings in a wider context, exploring their relevance and potential for a EU approach to the protection of the freedom of religion and belief and the right to non-discrimination. The programme featured keynote speeches by Thorbjørn Jagland, General Secretary of the Council of Europe, and Lázló Surján, Vice-President of the European Parliament.

Among the events of day two was Panel I: The challenge of religious diversity in Europe, chaired by Senator Rik Torfs, RELIGARE Partner, KU Leuven with presentations by  Abdullahi An-Na’im, Professor Emeritus, Emory University, José Casanova, Professor, Georgetown University, and Heiner Bielefeldt, Professor, University of Erlangen / UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.