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The Center sponsors, co-sponsors, and participates in numerous conferences annually. To date (late 2016), the Center, since its inception in 2000, has helped organize more than 350 academic conferences and workshops in approximately 50 countries. These events involve government, academic, and religious leaders, and are aimed at making a practical difference in the implementation of religious freedom principles. The Center typically partners with local and international leaders in the field, allowing for diverse viewpoints and backgrounds to be represented in each of the conferences. In addition, Center personnel pariticpate in other events as speakers, teachers, course supervisors, and consultants. Many of these events are featured below (please see the left navigation links for full details).

Image for Punta del Este Conference: Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Center for Law and Religion Studies Director Brett Scharffs, Founding Director Cole Durham, Associate Director Gary Doxey, and International Advisory Council Chair David Colton — under the auspices of the European Academy of Religion, with the leadership of Ján Figel’, Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside the European Union, and with co-conveners Carmen Asiaín Pereira, Heiner Bielefeldt, Tahir Mahmood, Alberto Melloni, Dicky Sofjan, Renáta Uitz, and Robin Fretwell Willson — assembled an international group of scholars and human rights experts in Punta del Este, Uruguay, 2-4 December 2018, to prepare the Punta Del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere. 

In connection with the conference a website was developed to support the event and provide resources for ongoing efforts to realize the conference objectives. At the conclusion of the event, the conveners issued the following Press Release:

Punta del Este Working

PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY, December 5, 2018. Prominent experts and government leaders specializing in human rights and constitutional law from around the world gathered in Punta del Este from December 2-4 to remember, reaffirm and recommit the world to human dignity as the foundational principle of human rights by issuing the Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere. The conference commemorated the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal... more

Image for Ninth Annual International Religious Liberty Dinner and Award - October 11, 2018
Rabbi David Saperstein delivers the keynote address.

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies presented the 2018 International Religious Liberty Award to Rabbi David Saperstein for his many years of work defending and supporting freedom of religion or belief for all. The award was presented by W. Cole Durham, Jr., ICLRS Founding Director, at the Ninth Annual Religious Liberty Award Dinner held on October 11, 2018 at the Monaco Hotel in Washington, DC. Rabbi Saperstein delivered the keynote address.

A rabbi and a lawyer, David Saperstein served as the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Liberty from 2014 to 2017. He was also the first chair of the US Commission on International Religious... more

Image for The 25th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium — Protecting Religious Freedom and Dignity: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70

The 25th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) is underway at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University. Delegate participants and invited observers are meeting together to commemorate both the 25th anniversary of the Symposium and the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Space does not permit inviting the general public to the Symposium, but recordings of many sessions are made available shortly after each session concludes, and written reports and recordings of other sessions will be available soon after the Symposium's close.

See recordings of Symposium Presentations as they become available, here.

Keynote speaker at the Symposium opening sesssion on Sunday evening, 7 October was Ann Power-Forde, an Irish laywer and academic who is currently... more

Image for ICLRS at the G20 Interfaith Forum 2018 in Argentina: 'Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development: Religious Contributions for a Dignified Future'
Opening Session: Faisal bin Abdulrahman Muaammar, KAICIID; Kevin O'Brien, Handa Foundation; Monsignor Carlos Malfa; Brian Adams, Griffith University; Argentine Vice President Gabriela Michetti; Christina Calvo, Etica y Economia.

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at Brigham Young University Law School was represented at the 2018 G20 Interfaith Forum, held 26-28 September 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Center directors, staff, and student fellows, as well as members the Center's International Advisory Council (IAC).

Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., ICLRS Founding Director and a member of the G20 Interfaith Forum's Organizing Committee, played a key role in developing and organizing the program for the entire event, where he moderated and spoke in sessions, including leading the concluding session. Professor Durham was accompanied in Buenos Aires by Professor Gary Doxey, ICLRS Associate Director and Regional Advisor for Latin America; ICLRS Publications Director, Donlu Thayer and Communications Specialist, Blythe Shupe; IAC Chair and BYU Law School student... more

Image for G20 Interfaith Forum 2018: Argentina

Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development:
Religious Contributions for a Dignified Future

The 2018 G20 Interfaith Forum has concluded in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The inaugural meetings were held in the Auditorio Manuel Belgrano in the historic Palacio San Martín of Argentina’s Cancillería, the Ministry of Foreign and Religious Affairs, and sessions continued in the principal venue at the nearby Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel and Convention Center, the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, and the National Library of the Argentine Republic. [Follow the Forum on Twitter.]

This was the fifth annual event in a series of G20 Interfaith Forums held in relation to the meetings of the international "Group of Twenty" (G20) Economic Summit. Watch the space for reports on this outstanding event.

Previous Interfaith Forums have been held in Gold Coast, Australia (2014); Istanbul, Turkey (2015); Beijing, China (2016); and Potsdam, Germany (2017). The 2018 Interfaith Forum was held in anticipation og the with the thirteenth G20 Summit, which takes place... more

Image for The Fifth ICLARS Conference - Living Together in Diversity: Strategies from Law and Religion

The Fifth Conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies (ICLARS) was held 12-14 September at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil. The theme of the Conference was Living Together in Diversity: Strategies from Law and Religion. ICLRS Director Brett Scharffs (a member of the ICLARS Steering Committee), Founding Director W. Cole Durham, Jr. (Past President of ICLARS), and Publications Director Donlu Thayer (a member of the conference Support Committee), joined some 100 others — from... more

Image for Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere: ICLRS Cosponsors Conference at Christ Church College, Oxford

On August 3-4, 2018, ICLRS, along with The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion; The Religion, Law and International Relations Programme, Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regents Park, Oxford; and the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government, University of Oxford Faculty of Law sponsored the conference "Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere: Founding Figures, Foundations, and the Uses of Human Dignity." 

The conference was organized in anticipation of the 70th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights coming up in December 2018. Speakers explored the ideas that motivated and illuminated the human rights project 70 years... more

Image for ICLRS Certificate Program on Religion and the Rule of Law, Held in Oxford, UK

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) at BYU Law School in Provo, Utah, USA, launched a new program during summer 2018,  training young scholars, academics, and government officials in religion and the rule of law. The program too place at Christ Church, Oxford University from July 22 through August 10, 2018.
     International Program participants are chosen each year from human rights and comparative law backgrounds. The members of this charter class included lawyer-scholars and students from Afghanistan/Netherlands, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Greece, Israel, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
     For almost two decades, ICLRS, together with many partners, has been supporting international... more

Image for Religious Freedom Annual Review 2018: Religion and the Common Good
Elder L. Whitney Clayton. Photo by Madeline Mortensen, BYU Photo.

The fifth Religious Freedom Annual Review of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies has concluded on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some 500 participants in the event heard US media, legal, and religious leaders speak on topics such as why religious freedom matters, how to find common ground with LGBTQ rights, religious freedom in the media, and how to promote religious freedom in their communities.

The Event in the Press

Keynote speakers were Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Emma Green, religion specialist writer for the Atlantic and recipient of the 2017 Religion... more

Image for Kirkham at 'To Be Secure' Forum in Montenegro, 21-23 May 2018

David Kirkham, ICLRS Senior Fellow and Director of the Brigham Young University London Centre, moderated an unprecedented forum discussion on religion and international and national security at the Atlantic Council of Montenegro's 8th high-level To Be Secure (2BS) Forum, held in Budva, Montenegro, 21-23 May 2018. The panel debate and discussion brought together leading clerics of the Orthodox, Catholic, and Islamic communities of Montenegro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a fellow of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Other participants on the program included the president of Montenegro, the prime minister of Montenegro, the president of Kosovo, and numerous ministers, ambassadors, civil society leaders, and ranking journalists from throughout Europe.

Image for The Sixth ACLARS Conference: Law, Religion, and Human Flourishing, 20-22 May 2018
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses the delegates

The 2018 ACLARS Conference—Law, Religion, and Human Flourishing—was held 20-22 May 2018 at Baze University in Abuja, Nigeria. Participants gathered to explore their shared interest in the relationship of law and religion to the advancement of human flourishing. The conference was co-sponsored by ACLARS (the African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies), ICLARS (the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, Milan, Italy), WARCLARS (the West African Regional Center for Law and Religion Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Nigeria), and ICLRS (the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, United States).

... more
Image for Scharffs and Durham at Grassrootsmobilise Conference Kokkinakis Book Launch in Athens

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies hosted a launch of the book The Kokkinakis Papers: Taking Stock of 25 years of ECHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the conference Between State and Citizen: Religion at the ECtHR, held 4 May 2018 in Athens, Greece. Center Director Brett Scharffs participated on a roundtable discussion at the conference – "Do we need the ECtHR to protect religious freedom?" – with participants Nicos Alivizatos, Malcolm Evans, Ronan McCrea, Renáta Uitz, and Lucy Vickers, moderated by ICLRS Founding Director Cole Durham. 

Other participants in the conference included Effie Fokas, Ceren Ozgul, Margarita Markoviti, Pasquale Annicchino, Alberta Giorgi, Liviu Andreescu, Mihai Popa, Dia Anagnostou, Marco Ventura, Julie Ringelheim, Panos Bitsaxis, Panayote Dimitra, Yannis Ktistakis, Andrea Williams, Lisa... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark and Hannah Clayson Smith speak at BYU Women's Conference, May 2018
Elizabeth Clark and Hannah Clayson Smith

BYU Women's Conference, held annually, is the largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world. This year's conference was held May 3-4, 2018 on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah.  The theme was "Strengthen One Another in the Lord." Approximately 160 presenters participated and 18,458 people attended.

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark and Senior Fellow Hannah Clayson Smith presented on "Religious Freedom: A Cherished Heritage to Defend." In their joint presentation, they addressed questions such as "How do religious freedoms impact our right to worship? How can we keep our freedom of worship from being destoryed? How do we work together with those of other faiths to defence religious liberty?"

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this talk are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Image for First Middle East Regional Conference, 'The Amman Message in a Changing World,' held in Jordan April 22-23, 2018

On April 22-23, 2018, the Center sponsored its first Middle East regional conference. Held at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan, the theme of the conference was "The Amman Message in a Changing World," a retrospective look at The Amman Message, a vision of peaceful Islam promulgated by King Abdullah II of Jordan a decade ago. The conference was sponsored by the Center, the University of Jordan Law School, and BYU Religious Education. 

His Royal Highness, Prince Hassan bin Talal, the uncle of King Abdullah II, was the royal patron of the conference. The conference... more

Image for Elizabeth Clark Lectures at Ukrainian Academy of Sciences

Associate Director Elizabeth Clark gave a lecture at the Institute of Philosophy at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences on April 10, 2018. Her lecture was titled “Developments in Law and Religion in the United States.”

The presentation included lively Q&A and provided a great opportunity to discuss current US church-state law and recent developments. The Ukrainian scholars were particularly interested in current attitudes towards religion in the US, the US’s history of anti-Catholic bias, and understanding the development of current First Amendment case law.

Image for War and Peace and Religion: Religious Freedom during the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

The Center for Rule of Law and Religion Studies (Ukraine) in cooperation with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies sponsored a conference, War and Peace and Religion: Religious Freedom during the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict, on 12-13 April 2018 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The conference focused on three interrelated questions conerning on how the religious freedom situation in Russia and Ukraine has been changing in the period of 2014–2017 due to the conflict between the countries. 

After the conference, the organizers are planning to publish a volume in one of the leading publishing houses.

The conference language was English.

Image for Scharffs at 2018 Global Business & Peace Symposium, Seoul, South Korea
Brett Scharffs and Brian Grim at Blue House

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was among the sponsors of the 2018 Global Business & Peace Symposium held 7-8 March in Seoul, South Korea. Center Director Brett Scharffs participated in the event, delivering a closing address. In connection with the Symposium, Professor Scharffs joined Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, as part of the Peace Delegation attending high-level meetings at the Korean National Assembly (Parliament), the Presidential Blue House, and with the Mayor of Seoul on March 7. 

Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave the keynote speech at the event, where special honors were given to business leaders who have worked to advance peace with North Korea, including some involved with the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC)... more

Image for BYU Law Students Compete at Moot Court Competition in Italy

Eight BYU Law students competed in an international Moot Court competition in Bologna, Italy, 6-7 March 2018. The competition was organized by the European Academy of Religion in collaboration with the International Consortium for Law & Religion Studies.

Teams from the United States and Europe argued a case before the European Court of Human Rights or the Supreme Court of the United States. The BYU law students were divided into two teams and argued before both. Pre-eminent scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions made up the two Courts. European Court of Human Rights judges were Silvio Ferrari, Professor of Law and Religion at the University of Milan (Italy), Mark Hill QC, Professor at the University of Cardiff (UK), Pretoria (South Africa), Notre Dame (Australia), and Ann... more

Image for International Religious Freedom Events in Guatemala, 6-7 March 2018

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) participated in a series of activities concerning religious freedom in Guatemala and Central America from March 6-7, 2018. The culminating event was an international conference on “Religious Freedom, the Secular State, and Conscientious Objection” at which Elder Quentin L. Cook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the keynote address. The event was sponsored by ICLRS, Asociación la Familia Importa (AFI), Mormon Helping... more

Image for 2018 Religious Freedom and Business Awards, Seoul, South Korea

The Center is participating in the 2018 Religious Freedom and Business Awards in Seoul, South Korea in partnership with Brian Grim and the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation. This year's awards will be given in Seoul the day before the opening of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics. 

The awards will be given along with other awards at the 2018 Global Business and Peace Symposium. Special honors will be given to business leaders who have worked to advance peace with North Korea, including some involved with the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), located... more

Image for Robin Fretwell Wilson Receives the 2018 Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award
Hannah L. Smith, ICLRS Senior Fellow, with Robin Fretwell-Wilson, 2018 Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award Recipient

Robin Fretwell Wilson was presented the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award at the 2018 J. Reuben Clark Law Society Annual Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah the 15-17 of February. The award, named for General Thomas L. Kane, an influential and powerful advocate for the religious freedom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during their migration to Utah and in the early days of the Church’s history, is presented to an individual who exemplifies the character and traits of Thomas L. Kane in upholding and defending religious freedom.

Robin Fretwell Wilson is the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law and director of the Family Law and Policy Program and the Epstein Health Law and Policy Program at the University of Illinois College of Law. She is the author or editor of eleven books, including The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (editor, Cambridge... more

Image for Scharffs and Rochow at FoRB Conference in Adelaide

From 14 to 16 February 2018, Professor Brett Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Center Senior Fellow, Neville Rochow SC, participated in a major conference in Sydney and Adelaide Australia. The conference featured leading academics and experts from Australia, the Pacific, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, addressing the conference theme: ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief: Creating the Constitutional Space for Other Fundamental Freedoms’.

The Center partnered in the conference with... more

Image for SACRALS Conference February 2018: Religio-Legal Parameters for Social Harmony

During the first three days of February 2018, the South Asia Consortium for Religion and Law Studies (SACRALS) convened the event "Religio-Legal Parameters for Social Harmony" at Hotel Sheraton New Delhi, India. Participants in the Meet included eminent scholars, jurists, and legal and interfaith leaders from the South Asia Area, with visitors from Australia and the United States. Under the direction of SACRALS Founding President Professor Dr Tahir Mahmood, meetings were held both at Hotel Sheraton and at Amity University in nearby Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The Inaugural Session of the Meet on the evening of 1 February was chaired by Professor Tahir Mahmood. Participants were welcomed by SACRALS Board of Trustees Chair Dr Saif Mahmood and heard an inaugural address by Professor Upendra Baxi, Former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University & Visiting Professor, Warrick University, UK, and... more

Image for Brett Scharffs  at the Summit on Religious Freedom in Orlando on January 30, 2018

Director Brett Scharffs joined other prominent speakers at the Third Summit on Religious Freedom: An Interfaith Invitation in Orlando, Florida on 30 January 2018. The annual summit, held at the First Baptist Orlando Church, was an opportunity to learn from and dialogue with nationally recognized experts in the area of religious freedom. 

Topics were: 

  • Religious Freedom: Why care? (Brett Scharffs, Director, BYU Law - International Center for Law and Religion Studies)
  • Rights: Issues coming before Congress and the courts that could affect you. (Jennifer Hawks, Associate General Counsel at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)
  • Respect: Creating an environment that welcomes all religious and non-religious traditions. (Rev. Katrina Jenkins, Dean of Religious Life, Rollins College)