“Never Again”: What Can Be Done to Prevent and Address Religious Persecution

Friday, October 11, 2019 at the Newseum in Washington, DC

Moderator: Brett Scharffs, Rex E. Lee Professor of Law and Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School


  • Kristina Arriaga, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
  • Roger D. Carstens, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State
  • Ján Figel’, E.U. Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Outside the E.U.

Nearly 75 years after the end of World War II, and 70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in many parts of the world there are severe instances of religious persecution – not just discrimination, marginalization or hostility, but mass atrocities, including murder, torture, bodily harm, rape and sexual violence, slavery and forced labor, forced displacement, forced conversion, and atrocities that may be classified as crimes against humanity, war crimes or even genocide. As reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, global leaders collectively resolved “never again” in response to the horrors of the Holocaust, but we find ourselves once again facing serious cases of religious persecution that cannot be neglected. This in spite of the fact that communication is better than it has ever been, with ease of transportation better than it has ever been, diasporas increase the ability to communicate easily with local communities, social media has democratized the ability to shine a spotlight on problems – factors that it seems should mitigate persecution.

And yet, we see examples of persecution in various places in the world: Amadis in Pakistan; Yazidis in Iraq; Rohingyas in Myanmar; Baha’is in Iran and Yemen; Christians in many parts of the Middle East; Uighurs and Tibetan Buddhists (among others) in China; Christians and Muslims in India; and resurgent anti-Semitism in France and other parts of Europe – to name a few.

The panelists discuss what can be done to address existing persecution and how best to ensure that “never again” becomes more of a reality.