Violations of religious freedom and violence committed in the name of religion grab our attention on a daily basis. Freedom of religion or belief is a key human right: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, numerous conventions, declarations and soft law standards include specific provisions on freedom of religion or belief. The 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief has been interpreted since 1986 by the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Special Rapporteurs (for example those on racism, freedom of expression, minority issues and cultural rights) and Treaty Bodies (for example the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Committee on the Rights of the Child) have also elaborated on freedom of religion or belief in the context of their respective mandates.
Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary is the first commentary to look comprehensively at the international provisions for the protection of freedom of religion or belief, considering how they are interpreted by various United Nations Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies. Structured around the thematic categories of the United Nations Special Rapporteur's framework for communications, the commentary analyses, for example, the limitations on the wearing of religious symbols and vulnerable situations, including those of women, detainees, refugees, children, minorities and migrants, through a combination of scholarly expertise and practical experience.
Heiner Bielefeldt, Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Politics at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg,Nazila Ghanea, Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford and member of the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief,Michael Wiener, Human Rights Officer and Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College at the University of Oxford
Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt (Dr phil Tubingen, Habil Bremen, Dr h.c. Luzern) is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. He is Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Politics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.
Dr. Nazila Ghanea (MA Leeds, PhD Keele, MA Oxon) is Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford, Fellow of Kellogg College and member of the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Dr. Michael Wiener (LLM London, Ass iur Rheinland-Pfalz, Dr iur Trier) has been working in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2006. He has been a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College at the University of Oxford since 2011.
Table of Contents
The Underlying Principles of Freedom of Religion or Belief - Towards a Holistic Conceptualization
Overview of International Human Rights Mechanisms
Part 1: Freedom of Religion or Belief
1.1. Freedom to Adopt, Change or Renounce a Religion or Belief
1.2. Freedom from Coercion
1.3. The Right to Manifest One's Religion or Belief
Part 2: Discrimination
2.1. Discrimination on the Basis of Religion or Belief/Interreligious Discrimination/Tolerance
2.2. State Religion
Part 3: Vulnerable Groups
3.2. Persons Deprived of their Liberty
3.3. Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced Persons
3.6. Migrant Workers
Part 4: Intersection of Freedom of Religion or Belief with other Human Rights
4.1. Freedom of Expression Including Questions Related to Religious Conflicts, Religious Intolerance, and Extremism
4.2. Right to Life, Right to Liberty
4.3. Prohibition on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Part 5: Cross-Cutting Issues
5.3. Legislative Issues
5.4. Defenders of Freedom of Religion or Belief and Non-Governmental Organizations