Each year since 1994, the Center has hosted a symposium devoted to the discussion of law and religion. By 2016, more than 1100 government, academic, and religious leaders and visitors from 124 countries had met together to discuss principles of religious liberty and to explore mechanisms to better implement these principles. Details about upcoming and past symposia may be found below and on the pages listed in the left sidebar.

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Welcome to the International Law and Religion Symposium Page
Image for Symposium 2017: 'Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World'

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) is honored to announce the distinguished keynote speaker for the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium — "Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World" — to be held 1-4 October 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. András Sajó, Hungarian scholar and former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, will speak at the opening session of the Symposium, to be held on Sunday evening, October 1, in the Moot Court Room (303) of the J. Reuben Clark Law School.

The opening session will be streamed live, beginning at 7 pm MST (UTC-7), to listeners worldwide. Interpretation at the venue will be available in 11 languages: Arabic, French, Italian, Korean, Laotian, Mongolian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

Please note that, due to space limitations, the Symposium is open to invited participants only. However, all plenary sessions and other sessions held in Room... more

Image for 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium: Ján Figeľ Keynote Speaker

In May 2016 Ján Figeľ was nominated by the European Commission as the first Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the European Union. Formerly European Commissioner for Education, Training & Culture, Mr. Figeľ has also held other positions such as State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was the Chief Negotiator for Slovakia's accession into the EU. He joined the Christian Democratic Movement party in 1990 and was elected in 1992 as an MP to the National Council of the Slovak Republic, serving on its Foreign Affairs Committee and becoming a member of Slovakia's delegation to the Council of Europe. In 1998 he was appointed State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was also the representative of the Slovak government in the European Convention which drafted the European Constitution. From 2004 to 2009 he served as European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, with a brief stint as Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society. In 2009 he was elected leader of the Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia. He stepped down from his Commission post in 2009 following his election as leader of the Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia.

Image for 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium: András Sajó Keynote Speaker

András Sajó was elected Judge on the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Hungary in February 2008. He was Vice-President of Section from 1 January 2015 to 31 July 2015, President of Section from 1 August 2015, and Vice-President of the Court from November 2015 until his retirement from the Court the end of January 2017. Judge Sajó received his law degree at the ELTE Law School of Budapest in 1972, after which he held various research fellow positions at the Institute for State and Law, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He received the PhD and Habilitation at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1977 and 1982; he was founder and spokesperson of the Hungarian League for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, Budapest, 1988-1994; Legal Counsellor to the President of Hungary, 1991-1992; Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, University Professor, Central European University (Budapest), 1993-2007. He was named a member of the American Law Institute and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He has been since 1990 Recurrent Visiting Professor, Cardozo School of Law, New York, and of the Global Faculty, New York University Law School, since 1996. From 2001-2007 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Open Society Justice Initiative of New York.

Image for 23rd International Law and Religion Symposium: 'Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World'

The 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University opened on Sunday evening, 2 October 2016, with an outstanding keynote address by Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, who currently serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Professor Cole Durham, Founding Director of the Center, presented Professor Bielefeldt with the Center's Distinguished Service Award, for his outstanding contributions.

This year's truly remarkable Symposium — "Religious Rights in a Pluralistic World" — brought together 95 invited delegates, including scholars, jurists, political and civil society leaders, and religious leaders and religion policy makers from 45 countries, providing them an important opportunity for engagement on issues of religion, law, and policy. Speakers and panelists explored the relationships among religion, pluralism, and religious rights as they addressed such issues as "Religious Rights and Culture," Exemptions, Baselines, and Discrimination: Conceptualizing Religious Rights," and "Minorities, Majorities, and Religious Rights."

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Image for Heiner Bielefeldt Delivers Keynote Address and Receives Service Award at Symposium 2016

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was honored to welcome Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, who currently serves as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, as the keynote speaker at the opening session of the 23rd Annual International Law and Religion Symposium on 2 October 2016. At the same meeting Professor Cole Durham presented Professor Bielefeldt with the Center's Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the interest of freedom of religion or belief worldwide.

Professor Bielefeldt was appointed to his position as Special Rapporteur on 18 June 2010, and his term of office will continue until November 1, 2016. He holds both a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen and a post-doctoral... more