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:

https://icon-society.org/2017-conference/.

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

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‘The report says that Britain’s “drift away from Christianity” coupled with the rise in minority religions and increasing non-religiosity demands a “long term, sustainable settlement on the relationship between religion and the state”.

Rethinking religion and belief in public life: a manifesto for change has been sent to all MPs as part of a major drive by the Society to encourage policymakers and citizens of all faiths and none to find common cause in promoting principles of secularism.

It calls for Britain to evolve into a secular democracy with a clear separation between religion and state and criticises the prevailing multi-faithist approach as being “at odds with the increasing religious indifference” in Britain.

Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society president, said: “Vast swathes of the population are simply not interested in religion, it doesn’t play a part in their lives, but the state refuses to recognise this. Britain is now one of the most religiously diverse and, at the same time, non-religious nations in the world. Rather than burying its head in the sand, the state needs to respond to these fundamental cultural changes. Our report sets out constructive and specific proposals to fundamentally reform the role of religion in public life to ensure that every citizen can be treated fairly and valued equally, irrespective of their religious outlook.”‘

Source: http://www.secularism.org.uk/rethinking-religion-and-belief-i.html. Here you can also read, and endorse, the report.

In my forthcoming book I write that it is not just meant for readers who could be expected to sympathise with some or all of the theoretical starting points set out in the introduction, but also as a modest invitation precisely to dissenters to engage in a “respectful academic conversation” similar to what Founding Director of the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College (now the Center for Faith and Inquiry) Harold Heie calls a “respectful political conversation”. Should this not, or no longer, be possible, then it will also prove difficult to uphold the ideal of a pluralistic public square as part of one’s democracy conception, as advocated in the book.

This is the fifth post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

For the first four posts, please see:

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

Affiliated Member, Center for the Study of Political Parties and Representation (CSPPR)

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‘The Centre for the Study of Political Parties and Representation aims to serve as an interdisciplinary platform for scholars of Leiden University for research focusing on the historical and contemporary operation and functioning of political parties and political representation, with a particular emphasis on ‘Modern Political Parties in Flux’, i.e. the causes and consequences of the changing nature of political parties as intermediaries between society and the state.

The Centre’s mission is to build on and integrate the considerable knowledge and proficiency housed in the various institutes, to pursue new avenues of interdisciplinary research, to disseminate research findings among the academic community, relevant stakeholders as well as the broader public, and to become a nationally and internationally recognised centre of expertise in the field.

leiden-university-logoIn doing so, we draw upon and build on existing expertise at Leiden University’s Institutes of

Activities

  • The Centre hosts several research projects.
  • A joint speaker series in which members of the participating institutes and guest speakers present their work.
  • At least one public event per year, featuring speakers from the participating institutes and external speakers, targeting scholars, students, and the wider non-academic community.
  • PhD seminars for graduate students from participating institutes working on themes related to the Centre’s areas of interest.
  • Grant application seminars for members of the Centre, discussing joint and individual interdisciplinary research proposals for various national and European sources of funding on themes related to the Centre’s areas of interest.
  • Visiting fellowships, independently funded, for prominent scholars working on key themes linked to the Centre.’

Source, and more information: http://csppr.net/.

Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Journal of Law, Religion & State International Conference: Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives, Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel

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‘The encounter of religion with the rule of law may generate tension but also mutual inspiration. The rule of law implies law’s supremacy over other normative systems and personal commitments. It also implies that law applies to everyone equally. Religion represents a normative system that may in some areas be different from – and stand in opposition to – state law. Religion may deny the supremacy of state law and pose divine law as supreme instead. It may, alternatively, seek exemptions from state law in those matters where the two conflict.

TOPICS: In this conference we seek to study this tension and discuss the following questions:
– Does religion (in general or a specific religion) accept the rule of state law?
– What are the boundaries (if any) of such acceptance?
– In what cases would religion challenge state law and in what cases would it seek exemptions?
– Can a policy of multiculturalism and of legal pluralism, which give more room to religious freedom, be reconciled with the rule of law or does it undermine it?
– What other policies should states follow in response to these tensions?

Religion may not only compete with state law but also inspire it, which leads us to investigate religion’s various understandings of the rule of law. Here is just one example. The concept of law in the context of the rule of law is ambiguous and open to different interpretations. Some (positivists) understand law as a set of rules fixed by social institutions, and others (natural law advocates) understand law as if it includes fundamental principles of justice and morality. Religions may take a position in that debate and contribute not only to the abstract understanding of law, but also to the identification of those moral principles that are part of law. We therefore also plan to explore the following:
– What is the position of religion with regard to the concept of law and the rule of law?
– Many religions developed partial or comprehensive legal systems of their own. Did religions also develop a concept of rule of law? What is its scope and meaning?
– The concept of rule of law also may be used in theological context as a metaphor to understand the boundaries of divine actions and intervention in the world. Is God constrained by law – and by what kind of law: law of nature, morality?

These and similar questions will be discussed in an international conference that will be held at Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel, on November 20-22, 2016.’

Source: http://www.ssrn.com/update/lsn/lsnann/ann16021.html. More information will follow.

Introduction to volume ‘The Powers That Be. Rethinking the Separation of Powers’ now available online

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Abstract:

‘The idea of the separation of powers has been subjected to criticism and competition ever since it first came to be during the upheaval of the English Civil War. In recent years the case has once again been stated that the idea of the separation of powers has lost its significance in a globalised world, with a power constellation in which the distinctions between different types of “powers” have blurred and even so-called constituted power holders have become more and more diffuse. Yet even its fiercest opponents cannot deny that the idea of the separation of powers as a theory of government has, in the words of M.J.C. Vile, “in modern times, been the most significant, both intellectually and in terms of its influence upon institutional structures”.

The idea of the separation of powers reached its zenith in the United States and France in the late 19th century. In the two centuries that separate us from this zenith, the doctrine has suffered almost endless criticism, but endured nonetheless. The tenacity of the idea of the separation of powers is partly due to the fact that it is still widely held to be a procedural and institutional prerequisite for providing the state and its laws with legitimacy. It was, and is, considered by many a guarantor of liberty, in the absence of which power cannot be legitimately exercised.

However, both democratic legitimacy and the separation of powers as concepts have very much evolved alongside the state and over the last decades the state has been giving up ground to other power holders. This brings up the question of whether the combination of these concepts is still viable outside a traditional state context, and if so, in what form? This is the central question the current volume seeks to answer.’

See for the full text:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2194851.

See for order information:

http://www.lup.nl/product/the-powers-that-be/;

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/P/bo25134025.html.

Lid, promotiecommissie, D. van der Blom, ‘De verhouding van staat en religie in een veranderende Nederlandse samenleving’, 6 juli 2016

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‘Door sterk gewijzigde maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen is voor de verhouding van staat en religie in Nederland de laatste decennia meer publieke belangstelling ontstaan dan ooit kon worden voorzien. Daarnaast is deze belangstelling langzamerhand een vraagstuk geworden die belangrijk is voor zowel de Nederlandse samenleving als andere Europese natiestaten.’

Lees hier meer: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/onderzoek/onderzoeksoutput/rechtsgeleerdheid/de-verhouding-van-staat-en-religie-in-een-veranderende-nederlandse-samenleving.

Ph.D. Thesis Committee Member For: D. van der Blom, The Relationship between State and Religion in a Changing Dutch Society

In recent decades, the Netherlands’ struggle with multiculturalism has caused an upsurge in public interest in the relationship between state and religion. In this, the Dutch address a subject relevant not just to them, but to all of Europe.’

Read more here: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/research/research-output/law/the-relationship-between-state-and-religion-in-a-changing-dutch-society.

 

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.

Co-editor and co-author, volume The Powers That Be. Rethinking the Separation of Powers. A Leiden Response to Möllers (2015)

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‘Both democratic legitimacy and the separation of powers as concepts have very much evolved alongside the state and over the last decades the state has been giving up ground to other power holders, particularly international (and even supranational) actors. This brings up the question of whether the combination of these concepts is still viable outside a traditional state context, and if so, in what form? This is the central question the current volume seeks to answer.

In 2013 Christoph Möllers published his impressive monograph, The Three Branches; A Comparative Model of Separation of Powers. This inspirational book led to the idea to pitch it against both the agenda of us as researchers of the Institute of Public Law at Leiden Law School (resulting from a 2012 conference) and our own insights, as well as that of fellow travellers in the field.’

For more (order) information, see:

http://www.lup.nl/product/the-powers-that-be/;

https://www.bol.com/nl/p/the-powers-that-be/9200000054866659/;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/powers-that-rethinking-separation/dp/9087282516/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454938145&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Powers+That+Be+Rethinking+the+Separation+of+Powers.

 

Respondent, The Atlantic Conversations on Religion and Public Life, St. George’s House, Windsor Castle (2007)

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From the ‘Welcome to St. George’s House’:

‘This event is hosted by St George’s House in association with the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton. Our aim is to bring together a distinguished group of public leaders and scholars from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States of America to foster a trans-Atlantic dialogue on vital questions.

Our theme is topical, complex and challenging. We shall examine, for example:

– whether religion should enjoy any acknowledged role in the public sphere in a modern, pluralist democracy, or be confined to private observance;

– the potential conflict between deep-rooted tradition, tolerance of multi-cultural diversity, and freedom of expression and practice;

– whether the concepts of neutrality and even-handedness have any meaning when the State – any State – needs ethical and moral underpinning for its public values.

Many other important questions will certainly arise in debate. You are attending, not a formal Conference, but a Conversation. As always at St George’s House, all are encouraged – irrespective of any public role or responsibility – to think and speak freely and imaginatively and to be open to new ideas, secure in the knowledge that confidentiality is guaranteed. I hope that original, stimulating and potentially influential insights will emerge – and that the historic and beautiful environment of Windsor Castle will exert on you its special magic and ensure lasting happy memories of your stay.

Andrew Carter

Warden

St. George’s House.’

For the full programme, see:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/354684dc5b129a3305694252.pdf.

Blogpost ‘The European Parliament as Benchmark of Transconstitutionalism’ (2014)

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The European Parliament is sometimes criticised as being weak compared to national parliaments, while the executive it is supposed to check is not as well-defined an antagonist as in national systems.

Read here why viewing the European Union (EU) through this state-centred lens seems neither fitting nor fair:

http://leidenlawblog.nl/articles/the-european-parliament-as-benchmark-of-transconstitutionalism.