In 2005, a consortium of academic institutions with interest in freedom of religion or belief assembled with the aim of developing an electronic forum, possibly stimulated from time to time by relevant academic conferences, to encourage in-depth discussion of issues pending before the European Court of Human Rights and other international institutions. This consortium has come to be known as the Strasbourg Consortium.
The first conference of the Consortium was held 28-30 July 2005 in Strasbourg, France. The discussion at that conference focused primarily on Leyla Şahin v. Turkey, a case before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights at that time dealing with the issue of religious headscarves in government universities. This initial conference resulted in a wealth of scholarly analysis and discussion on the important issues implicated by the Şahin case.
The weekend of 20-22 June 2008, again marked an important opportunity to move forward with the basic idea that emerged at the time of the Şahin case in the European Court: namely, to provide a forum where high-level academic analysis can be made available on an expedited electronic basis to enrich the materials that the European Court of Human Rights and other international tribunals can draw on when addressing issues of freedom of religion or belief. This second meeting of the Consortium was held in connection with the Focus on FORB meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. This connection allowed the Consortium to benefit from the excellent work done by Focus on FORB on forefront issues in the U.N. setting. Sunday afternoon discussion focused on several pending cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, the members of the Consortium discussed how to best organize efforts to attract early, focused analysis on the range of emerging issues.
Since the decisions on the important issues pending before the European Court of Human Rights will shape the basic contours of freedom of religion or belief for years to come, the kind of work envisioned by, and carried out by, the Strasbourg Conference Consortium is particularly critical. We welcome you to our site, and encourage you to investigate its possibilities to determine how it may serve you, and how you may contribute.