Each year since 1994, the Center has hosted a symposium devoted to the discussion of law and religion. By 2017, more than 1200 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 Ján Figeľ and András Sajó open the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium
Left: Ján Figeľ Right: András Sajó

by Melissa Hartman, BYU Law Student and Symposium Volunteer

Two distinguished Keynote speakers addressed participants from around the world assembled for the opening session of the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium.  In addition to an address by Ján Figeľ, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of religion or Belief Outside the European Union, those assembled at the J. Rueben Clark Law School and participants via webcast, were privileged to hear from András Sajó, Former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights.

The opening session commenced with the Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brett G. Sharffs welcoming attendees and inviting them to reflect on the role religion can play in building peace, stability, and harmony or alternatively contributing to disunity and violence. BYU President Kevin J. Worthen, and Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Gordon Smith, then also welcomed... more

Image for Symposium 2017: 'Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World'

The 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) was held 1-3 October 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some 100 Delegates to the 2017 Symposium were invited to discuss the conference theme — "Religion and Religious Freedom in a Changing World" — including such sub-themes as Religion and Security, Religion and Pluralism, and Religion and the Rule of Law.  

Please watch this space for information on availability of presentations and recordings from the event. (See recordings from Symposium 2016 here.)

The 2017 Symposium opened Sunday evening, October 1, with keynote addresses by Ján Figeľ, the European Commission's Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, and András Sajó, Hungarian scholar and former Judge and Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights. 

Each year since 1994, ICLRS has hosted a symposium devoted to the discussion of law and religion among... 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... more

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... more

Image for Symposium 2017: The Student Executive Committee

Every year a talented group of BYU Law Students devotes countless volunteer hours to the success of the International Law and Religion Symposium. Under the direction of Center Associate Director Elizabeth Clark, Committee Members do everything from coordinating the complicated master schedule of all events, including the schedules of numerous delegates, to coordinating transportation of the delegates to and from the airport and various venues, and many important tasks in between. Preparation starts weeks in advance and, beginning with the arrival of the first delegate... more

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."

... more
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