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Durham and Scharffs at The Oslo Coalition: 'The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse'
Image for Durham and Scharffs at The Oslo Coalition: 'The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse'
Lena Larsen, Mark Lattimer, Nazila Ghanea

Professors Cole Durham and Brett Scharffs participated in a Center co-sponsored conference hosted by The Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law 26-27 October 2016 at the Lysebu Hotel and Conference Center in Oslo. The conference 'The Politicisation of Forb for Better or Worse', saw the launch of new Oslo principles on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

In addition to the Oslo Coalition and ICLRS, the event was co-sponsored by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Fritt Ord.  

The conference gathered together national and international professional expertise on the areas spotlighted. Participating were Heiner Bielefeldt (who delivered the opening address), Lena Larsen (Director of the Oslo Coalition), Tore Lindholm, Vebjørn Horsfjord, Muhammad Khalid Masud, Michelle Staggs Kelsall, Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang, Kishan Manocha, Ed Brown, Jeremy Gunn, Mark Lattimer, Katayoun Kishi, John Kinahan, Lene Wetteland, Nazila Ghanea, and Sir Malcolm Evans OBE.

The intention of the conference was to contribute recommendations for the international bodies charged with the monitoring of the freedom of religion or belief at the United Nations, in particular the new Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed.

A 'Principles on Promotion of Freedom and Religion or Belief' was drafted by a working group in advance of the conference, and was edited during the conference, in harmony with the contributions to the debate.

In a climate where the regulation of religion is increasingly used as an instrument in political power struggles, the growing politicisation of FoRB as a fundamental human right can have both negative and positive effects. This conference will discuss both the challenges and possibilities arising from the politicisation of FoRB can be handled in order to strengthen the international legal framework on human rights. The purpose of the conference is

- to analyse the different approaches to the context, scope and content of FoRB as revealed by a variety of international declarations,
- to examine the international instruments and tools available for the monitoring and protection of FoRB, and
- to discuss how both the challenges and possibilities arising from the politicisation of FoRB can be handled in order to strengthen the international legal framework on human rights.