Expertisecentrum Politieke Legitimiteit

‘Het Expertisecentrum Politieke Legitimiteit is per 2017 in het leven geroepen om het aanbod van onderzoeksthema’s en -vaardigheden van wetenschappers uit Leiden en Den Haag beter te laten aansluiten bij de vraag vanuit overheden, maatschappelijke instanties en bedrijven. Het centrum biedt bemiddeling en begeleiding bij het uitvoeren van vraaggestuurd (contract)onderzoek naar politieke legitimiteit in theorie en praktijk, in binnen- en buitenland.

De Universiteit Leiden heeft op vier faculteiten (waarvan drie in Leiden en één in Den Haag) een indrukwekkende expertise in huis op het gebied van ‘politieke legitimiteit’. Onze onderzoekers houden zich bijvoorbeeld bezig met internationale conflictoplossing, de positie van veiligheidsdiensten, democratische vernieuwing, de toekomst van politieke partijen, de legitimiteit van de rechterlijke macht, enzovoort.

Deze onderzoekers zijn sinds 2010 samengebracht binnen het profileringsgebied Politieke Legitimiteit, waarin de Universiteit Leiden hen heeft gestimuleerd om vernieuwend, vaak multi- en interdisciplinair onderzoek te doen. Het actieve netwerk dat hiervan het resultaat is, en dat zich over de vier faculteiten uitstrekt, heeft per 2017 een expertisecentrum voortgebracht.

Het Expertisecentrum

Het Expertisecentrum Politieke Legitimiteit heeft als doel om de maatschappelijke vraag naar wetenschappelijk onderzoek in kaart te brengen en actief vraaggericht onderzoek op te zetten, in samenwerking met enerzijds de onderzoekers en anderzijds maatschappelijke en overheidsinstanties die behoefte hebben aan nieuw onderzoek naar (onderwerpen gelieerd aan) politieke legitimiteit. Het expertisecentrum bemiddelt in het opstellen van aanvragen en onderzoeksopdrachten om de samenwerking tussen opdrachtgever en uitvoerende onderzoeker(s) te vergemakkelijken. De coördinatie van het centrum is in handen van prof. dr. Wim Voermans (Staats- en Bestuursrecht) en dr. Geerten Waling (Politieke Wetenschap).

Meer informatie

Download onze brochure (pdf) voor een uitgebreide toelichting en voorbeelden. Voor meer informatie:’


Article ‘This Map Of The State Of Religious Freedom Around The World Is Chilling’

From the article:

‘In many countries around the world, it remains difficult for people of all religions to practice their faith freely. And in others, it’s getting harder.

A Pew Research Center report released Tuesday shows that the number of countries with high levels of religious restrictions ― either from the government or from hostile individuals or groups ― grew overall from 34 percent in 2014 to 40 percent in 2015, the latest year for which data is available. (…)

Consistent with previous years, the Middle East-North Africa region had the largest percentage of governments that harassed and used force against religious groups (95 percent). European countries came in second, at 89 percent. Europe also experienced the largest increase in government harassment (rising from 17 countries in 2014 to 27 countries in 2015) and use of force against religious groups (going from 15 countries in 2014 to 24 countries in 2015). In particular, Pew pointed to France for cases where individuals were punished for wearing face coverings in public spaces and Russia for prosecuting groups for publicly exercising their religion.’

Read the whole article by Carol Kuruvilla here:

In my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human I write that before I left for Princeton I already had the sense that, as the then United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeld noted in 2012, religious freedom was globally becoming ‘a human right under pressure’. Political scientist Allen D. Hertzke, the editor of a recent volume on the future of the right to freedom of religion or belief, speaks about ‘a profound paradox of our age’, in the sense that ‘at the very time that the value of religious freedom is mounting, the international consensus behind it is weakening (…). Indeed we see not only widespread violations around the world, but looming threats in the West that jeopardize previous gains’.

This is the twelfth post in a new series introducing my new book.

For the first eleven posts, please see:

Article ‘Princeton Seminary Reforms Its Views on Honoring Tim Keller’

Yale Law Professor: ‘American courts are tackling Islamophobia – why won’t Europeans?’

Waarom de PVV niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017)

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order


Upcoming Speaking Engagement: 2017 ICON∙S Conference on ‘Courts, Power, and Public Law’, Copenhagen, July 5-7


My two scheduled presentations during the conference are entitled: ‘The European Court of Human Rights’ “constitutional morality” in the religious domain’, and ‘In Defense of the Classical Liberal Conception Regarding Religious Freedom’.

About the general conference theme:

‘The overarching theme of the ICON-S 2017 Annual Meeting will be “Courts, Power, Public Law”. The expanding role of courts is arguably one of the most significant developments in late-20th and early-21st century government. Today, courts around the world play an increasingly central role in defining the relationship between different organs of the state, as between state, non-state actors and individual citizens, and between national and supranational levels of governance. Domestic courts routinely interpret and enforce constitutional provisions guaranteeing the separation of powers, federalism and civil and political rights. Many domestic courts also now play a role in safeguarding democracy, and protecting and promoting social rights. In doing so, many domestic courts are also in active ‘dialogue’ with regional and international tribunals, as well as with transnational investment agreements or legal norms; and international courts likewise rely on regional and domestic human rights and public law norms in developing international jurisprudence.

What explains this increasingly dense network of judicial control over public power, and transnational judicial interaction? To what extent do courts succeed in achieving their goals, and under what conditions? In the midst of concerns about national and international security, how should courts respond to such concerns without compromising ideals of constitutional democracy? What should be the appropriate remit of international tribunals in balancing the competing claims of a just peace and individual responsibility? What are we to make of the role of courts in the management and mismanagement of the national and international economic crisis, and how it has called into question some of the classic institutions of democracy? Answering these questions requires close attention to the social, economic and political context for judicial review. It also invites attention to questions of public power: how, and under what conditions, do courts enjoy the power, legitimacy and independence necessary to serve as a meaningful check on national and transnational actors? How does the social and political power enjoyed by political elites, citizens or social movements contribute to the creation or success of judicial review in different settings? Do we need to rethink the conventional ways of understanding how courts mediate between the international and the national? Addressing these questions is a key focus for much of the leading scholarship on comparative constitutional law, comparative politics, comparative administrative law, and international law and governance today. It is also the focus of the ICON-S 2017 Conference.’

About ICON-S:

‘The initiative to create an International Society of Public Law emerged from the Editorial Board of I·CON – the International Journal of Constitutional Law. For several years now I·CON has been, both by choice and by the cartographic reality of the field, much more than a journal of comparative constitutional Law. I·CON has expanded its interests, range of authors, readers, Editorial Board members and, above all, issues covered to include not only discrete articles in fields such as Administrative Law, Global Constitutional Law, Global Administrative Law and the like, but also increasingly includes scholarship that reflects both legal reality and academic perception, and which in dealing with the challenges of public life and governance combines elements from all of the above with a good dosage of political theory and social science.’

Source, and all additional information:

Acton University, June 20-23 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Looking forward to participating in this year’s Acton University.

‘What is Acton University?

  • Four days that integrate sound economics, business, philosophy, theology, and intellectual history
  • A customized learning plan that you create: featuring over 120 courses taught by over 80 experts: an international, world class faculty
  • An exploration of the intellectual foundations of freedom, and respect for the dignity and value of the human person
  • A place to learn about the classical foundations of economics, philosophy, theology, liberty and how they apply to our culture today
  • A unique educational experience enabling you to lead with a greater understanding of the intersection of liberty and morality
  • An international, ecumenical network of attendees helping you to apply your knowledge in shaping culture towards a free and virtuous society’

Source, and more information, and registration:

Acton University is organized by the Acton Institute, ‘a think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles’. See

Public Lecture by Professor Brett Scharffs on ‘Why Religious Freedom’, April 7, 15.00h, Free University, Amsterdam

UPDATE: For location, and registration, see here:

The full title of the paper which Professor Brett Scharffs will present, is: ‘Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care’.

The abstract of the paper reads as follows:

‘Religious freedom: Is it the grandparent of human rights, or the neglected stepchild? As with most false dichotomies, the answer is both. But it is also the underappreciated core, or tap root, of human rights. Why should we care about religious freedom? For the seeker of religious truth, the answer may be obvious: Religious freedom creates the conditions, the “constitutional space,” for investigation and the pursuit of truth. But what about those who fall into other groups? What about the religiously committed – who are confident they are in possession of religious truth. Or the religiously indifferent – who are not much interested in religion or spirituality. Or those who are affirmatively hostile to religion – those who believe religion does more harm than good. Should they – should we – care about religious freedom? There are three reasons why we should all care deeply about freedom of religion (and belief). First, is the role of religious freedom as a historical foundation for constitutional, political, civil and human rights. Without freedom of religion and belief (FORB), the entire human rights project may collapse from its own weight. Second, FORB is necessary if we are to resist statism and other monistic views of state power. And third, we may not have the intellectual, political or rhetorical resources to defend conscience if we do not respect and protect FORB.’

You can read the full paper here:

Brett G. Scharffs is Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law at Brigham Young University Law School, and was appointed Director of the Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies effective May 1, 2016.

The lecture is organized by the Centre for Religion and Law, a collaboration between the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Theology of the VU University Amsterdam, and the newly formed Netherlands Law and Religion Scholars Network.

For more information (in Dutch) on the Centre for Religion and Law and the Netherlands Law and Religion Scholars Network, see

Upcoming Speaking Engagement at Wageningen University & Research: ‘Religion and the Public Realm’

‘Studium Generale explores whether there is such a thing as a “religiously neutral state”. When it comes to religion, how do states’ approaches to secularization shape where “private” and “public” realms begin?

Georganiseerd door Studium Generale
Datum di 18 april 2017
Tijd 20:00
Locatie Impulse, gebouwnummer 115
Stippeneng 2
6708 WE
0317 48 28 28

Where does “private” end and “public” begin when it comes to religion? To explore this, we look at how states’ approaches to secularization have been shaped. Is there such a thing as a “religiously neutral state”?  What tensions have been at the root of the way states position themselves in relation to religion in the public sphere? Dr. Hans-Martien ten Napel will draw on examples from Europe and elsewhere around the world. His accent will be on the case of Great Britain where frameworks were proposed for accommodating differences and diversity in the public realm. Taking political traditions into account, he will explore religion in the public realm from an interdisciplinary perspective.’

Source, and more information:

Mini-Symposium: Global Democratic Decline?

‘Op woensdag 12 april 2017 zal Res Publica van 15:00 tot 17:00 uur een mini-symposium organiseren op het Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw (KOG, A0.51) over het gegeven dat wereldwijd het aantal democratieën afneemt. Wat betekent deze ontwikkeling voor de rechtsstaat? Hoe is het gesteld met het vertrouwen in de democratie? Is de directe democratie een alternatief voor de representatieve democratie? Onder meer deze vragen staan centraal tijdens dit symposium. Onze gastsprekers zullen zijn Hans-Martien ten Napel, Charlotte Wagenaar en Geerten Waling. Na afloop zal er een borrel zijn in Café de Keyzer.

Het programma zal er als volgt uit zien:

Lezing 1: Hans-Martien ten Napel zal ingaan op de vraag wat er misgaat met de democratie in verschillende landen en dan voornamelijk vanuit vergelijkend-staatsrechtelijk perspectief. Wat betekenen de huidige ontwikkelingen in de wereld voor de rechtsstaat? Hierbij worden twee recente rapporten van resp. The Economist en Freedom House gebruikt.

Lezing 2: Geerten Waling zal een lezing verzorgen over de democratie vanuit politicologisch oogpunt. Hoe zit het met het vertrouwen in de democratie? Zitten de partijen niet voornamelijk in een crisis?

Lezing 3: Charlotte Wagenaar zal ingaan op  de ervaring die zij heeft in het Verenigd Koninkrijk. Als verkiezingswaarnemer was zij aanwezig bij zowel het onafhankelijkheidsreferendum in Schotland, als bij de Brexit. Naast haar praktische ervaring, zal zij tevens nader ingaan op de vraag of een directe democratie een goed alternatief is voor een representatieve democratie.

Hierna zal er uiteraard ruimte zijn voor discussie. Wij hopen u allen te mogen verwelkomen op woensdag 12 april 2017!

N.B. Voor leden van Res Publica zal er een certificaatpunt te verdienen zijn. Indien u daarvoor in aanmerking wenst te komen, verzoeken wij u om een e-mail te sturen naar’


Lezing: ‘Why Religous Freedom?’ op 7 april a.s.

UPDATE: Professor Neville Rochow SC is helaas verhinderd, de lezing van Prof. Scharffs gaat gewoon door.

‘Het Centrum voor Religie en Recht en het onderzoekersnetwerk Religie en Recht nodigen u graag uit voor een vrijdagmiddaglezing op 7 april 2017 met als spreker professor Brett Gilbert Scharffs, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University (BYU), daar is hij ook Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies.

Het onderwerp van de lezing van professor Scharffs zal zijn: ‘Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed and the Religiously Indifferent Should Care’. Voorafgaand aan de lezing zal professor Neville Rochow SC een korte inleiding geven over het werk van eerdergenoemd centrum waaraan hij als Senior International Fellow verbonden is. Professor Rochow is European Union Government Relations Representative van The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brussel, en daarnaast onder meer lid van het bestuur van de Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion aan Adelaide Law School, Australië. De bijeenkomst begint om 15.00 uur (14.30 uur inloop). Op de website van het Centrum voor Religie en Recht ( treft u de exacte locatie en routebeschrijving aan. De bijeenkomst wordt om 16.30 uur afgesloten met een netwerkborrel.

De voertaal van de lezing is Engels.’

Voor de bron, en meer informatie (waaronder een flyer), zie:

Blogpost ‘Something Fundamental is at Stake in the Dutch Parliamentary Elections’

Geert Wilders’ PVV Party believes that Islam is a totalitarian ideology and not a religion, and thus Muslims are not equally entitled to the same freedom of religion or belief as other believers. This view is incompatible with liberal democracy.

Read the whole blogpost here:

Waarom de PVV niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen

In mijn bijdrage ‘Onthoud de PVV het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie’ in het Nederlands Juristenblad van deze week schrijf ik onder meer dat er, naast politieke, ook rechtsstatelijke aanknopingspunten te vinden zijn voor de beantwoording van de vraag of de PVV al dan niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen.

In een recent interview met de ARD stelde Wilders dat zijn partij van oordeel is ‘dass man den Islam nicht mit anderen Religionen vergleichen kann, sondern nur mit totalitären Ideologien, die wir in der Vergangenheit gesehen haben, etwa dem Kommunismus oder dem Faschismus’. Een dergelijke stellingname opent de weg voor onder meer vergaande en eenzijdige beperkingen van de vrijheid van godsdienst van moslims, zoals ook blijkt uit het concept-verkiezingsprogramma PVV 2017-2021.

Zie voor de bijdrage in het Nederlands Juristenblad

Bovenstaande argumentatie vloeit in belangrijke mate voort uit hetgeen ik opmerk in een binnenkort te verschijnen boek over de betekenis van de vrijheid van godsdienst en levensovertuiging voor de liberale democratie in het algemeen:

‘A reorientation of liberal democracy towards the common good is one main contribution that world religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism can help achieve in an otherwise religiously violent world. The constitutional significance of in particular the associational and institutional dimensions of the right to freedom of religion or belief is that they facilitate this contribution. To put into question the possibility to realise this right, is to doubt whether liberal democracy itself is possible.’

Dit is de negende post in een nieuwe serie ter introductie van mijn binnenkort te verschijnen boek Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

Voor de eerste acht posten, zie:

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017);

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’;

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’;

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life;

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’;

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’;

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017;

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order.