Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Conference ‘Christianity and the Future of our Societies’, Leuven, Belgium, 15-19 August 2016

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‘The event is jointly organized by the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven and the Association for Reformational Philosophy and tackles issues facing the future of our societies. The focus of the conference is to analyze philosophically and theologically what Christianity can contribute to the well-being and flourishing of societies, and people within societies, in the 21st century, in very diverse contexts around the world. The aim of the conference is to discuss with scholars from all over the world not only the significance of religion and Christianity in general, but also the contribution of Christian theology and Christian philosophical thinking in particular for contemporary societies in very different contexts around the globe.’

The paper I will be presenting during the conference is provisionally entitled: ‘Christianity and the Future of Religious Freedom’.

On the Association of Reformational Philosophy:

‘The Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) has its roots in the 16th century Reformation and its direct origin in the 19th neo-Calvinist revival (in which Abraham Kuyper was a pivotal figure). One of the goals of the ARP is “to contribute to the deepening of philosophical insight in created reality, and to make these insights fruitful for academic studies and for society”. Key founding fathers of the movement were the Dutch philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Vollenhoven. The movement has grown, and is today globally engaged in academic dialogue between Christianity and the contemporary world, and its animating intellectual, political and economic ideas and leaders. It does so in the expectation that Christianity has important and timely insights to offer.’

On the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit:

‘The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (ETF) in Leuven, Belgium, has developed into an important European education and research center for Christian theology that seeks relevance to the contemporary world and its concerns. In ETF’s international master’s and doctoral program, students and professors from a wide variety of cultural and denominational backgrounds come from all over the world to engage in stimulating dialogue.’

For more information, and registration, see http://www.cfs2016.org/.

Participant, expert seminar ‘Religious Pluralism and Human Rights in Europe: Where to Draw the Line?’, Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, Utrecht (9-10 May 2006)

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‘”How should we deal with religious pluralism in contemporary Europe from a human rights perspective and where should we draw the line, if any?” This was the central question of an expert seminar held in 2006 at Utrecht University to celebrate the inaugural address of Abdullahi An-Na’im, who occupied the G.J. Wiarda Chair at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) in 2005/2006. (…)
Though religious pluralism in itself is anything but new in Europe, the influx of large groups of non-Christians, especially Muslims, and the political climate after recent terrorist attacks have profoundly changed the terms of the debate on how to deal with it. Should all religions be treated the same, or is it legitimate to take European Christian heritage into account?
Does religion deserve more protection than culture? What does it mean if we say the State has to be secular and/or neutral? How should freedom of religion be dealt with if it conflicts with other fundamental rights such as sex equality? And how should one approach limitations on the freedom of expression that are related to religion, such as hate speech bans or criminalisation of glorifying terrorism?
The questions are set against the background of modern notions of citizenship and the European human rights framework.’

Source: http://intersentia.com/en/shop/academisch/religious-pluralism-and-human-rights-in-europe.html.

About the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights:

‘SIM is the key centre of expertise of human rights research and education at Utrecht University.

The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights offers internationally oriented study programmes, conducts interdisciplinary research and organises a range of activities in the field of human rights.

History
Established in 1981 as a research support institute for a group of Dutch human rights NGOs, SIM has become integrated into Utrecht University over time. SIM was one of the founders of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research and is the home of the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights. Famous human rights researchers have headed SIM since its creation, including Hans Thoolen, Manfred Nowak, Peter Baehr, Cees Flinterman and Jenny Goldschmidt. Antoine Buyse is SIM’s current director. With a rich tradition and a keen eye voor current and future developments in the field of human rights, SIM is a leading academic research institute and the home base of a vibrant, interdisciplinary and international group of researchers, lecturers, and PhD students.’

– See more at: http://sim.rebo.uu.nl/en/over-ons/#sthash.Klf2stYo.dpuf.

Paper presentation, ‘Multiple Sovereignties and the Principle of Separation of Powers’, IXth World Congress of Constitutional Law, University of Oslo (2014)

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About the Congress:

‘The IACL holds a World Congress every 3-4 years. The IXth Congress will take place in Oslo from 16 to 20 June 2014 and is organised by the Department of Public Law at the University of Oslo in collaboration with the Executive Committee of the IACL. The venue for the Congress is the historic Main Building of the University of Oslo, which is in the centre of the city.
The Congress will take place just one month after the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution which today stands as the second-oldest written Constitution in the world. It is expected that between 300 and 500 participants will attend the Congress, from all regions of the world.
The working languages of the Congress are French and English and simultaneous translation will be provided in plenary sessions.
The IACL uses two principal formats for the scholarly programme of a World Congress: plenary sessions and workshops. Plenary sessions are open to all participants while workshops are smaller and discussion-based. There will be four plenary sessions in this Congress, each of which lasts for 3½ hours.’

About the workshop during which the paper was presented (‘The mutations and transformation of division of powers: the constitutional organization’):

‘The classical characteristics of the Legislative and Executive Powers, which have scarcely changed since the origins of liberal constitutionalism (XVIIIXIX), are no longer adequate concepts or theoretical devices for explaining constitutional reality.

Every division of powers rests on the willingness of a constitutional assembly to divide the power with the purpose of avoiding the abuse of power and tyranny. The search for a system of checks and balances is then based on a liberal conception of political power. Therefore the main instrument to realize this balanced frame is to organize a moderate and representative government as was defended by Montesquieu and other authors; a limited power – they thought – should exclude arbitrariness and despotism.

But it becomes necessary to maintain two essential ingredients of the spirit of division of powers: the efficiency of this frame of government and the limitation of powers itself. The first ensures the supreme and general interest of a community; the second guarantees the fundamental rights and private interests of individuals. Thus both requirements must condition the development of the political society that every Constitution leads.

The issue of division of powers is however, nowadays, clearly renewed, because not only do the Executive and the Legislative powers play a main role within constitutional organization, but also those two classical powers have been submitted to strong transformations. Besides, modern constitutional provisions have created many new organs and powers, taking into account new circumstances and techniques.

On one hand, the judiciary power has affirmed itself step by step as a counter power of political and representative power. On the other hand, there are other powers with a diverse nature and quite different from those organized by the constitution:

the economic and financial powers,
international organizations which can be founded on different bedrocks,
lobbies which represent the interest of different groups in a society or even
collective and minority interests (religions, languages, costumes, regional or national identities), or
media powers.
These entities do not belong to the democratic and representative circuit provided inside constitutions. Those new realities and scenarios should probably be present in the philosophy of the contemporary constitutional organization. We must also underline the existence of supranational organizations, in particular in Europe and Latin America, as well as their intense impact on the transformation of the domestic division of power within the States.’

For sources and additional information, see:

http://www.iacl-aidc.org/en/events/previous-events/103-oslo-congress-oslo-congress-16-20-june-2014;

http://www.jus.uio.no/english/research/news-and-events/events/conferences/2014/wccl-cmdc/wccl/program/workshops/workshop15.html.

[At my request, my own paper was removed from the list of ‘accepted papers’ for copyright purposes.]

Participant, Conference ‘The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response’, Hudson Institute, New York (May 7th, 2015)

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‘As military plans are being laid for an offensive to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from Islamic State militants, this conference focused on the policies and strategies urgently needed to help the Middle East’s vulnerable religious minorities.

Leading the discussion was Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and Hudson Distinguished Scholar Walter Russell Mead. They were joined by experts from multiple pontifical humanitarian agencies, writers, and noted experts.

Nearly a year after the Islamic State swept through northern Iraq and enforced its convert-or-die ultimatum, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians and members of other ancient religions remain in encampments in Kurdistan and neighboring countries. They subsist on international humanitarian aid and their children lack access to education. Many are losing hope of ever returning to their homes and, with few options to resettle within the region, many are seeking to leave.

Is there any hope that these Christians and other religious minorities can remain in the Middle East?’

About the Hudson Institute:

‘Founded in 1961 by strategist Herman Kahn, Hudson Institute challenges conventional thinking and helps manage strategic transitions to the future through interdisciplinary studies in defense, international relations, economics, health care, technology, culture, and law.

Hudson seeks to guide public policy makers and global leaders in government and business through a vigorous program of publications, conferences, policy briefings, and recommendations.’

For the program, a transcript of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s seven point plan to end persecution of Christians, audio and video of this particular event, see:

http://www.hudson.org/events/1245-the-islamic-state-s-religious-cleansing-and-the-urgency-of-a-strategic-response52015.