IIRF Reports Vol. 2, No. 7 (July 2013)

By: Janet Epp Buckingham

Why and how to protect religious freedom

A report on the International Consultation on Religious Freedom

March 2013, forthcoming in the International Journal for Religious Freedom

The International Consultation on Religious Freedom Research in Istanbul in March, 2013 brought together a wide variety of academics and activists who are concerned about religious persecution. The participants recognized the value in bringing together a diverse array of specialists as we usually only interact with those who deal with issues from a similar discipline. By the end of the consultation, it became clear that advocacy for those who are persecuted for their faith requires the contribution of all these disciplines.

The primary groups of experts who presented at the consultation include lawyers, theologians and geographers. Some are academics while others work for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate for the human rights of religious minorities. Participants from Sri Lanka, India, Turkey, Nigeria, South Africa, Germany, England, Canada, the USA and Brazil presented their research. In all, some forty experts participated, requiring that part of the day was spent in groups, rather than everyone giving plenary papers. It was a rich environment with many participants collaborating on future research initiatives as an outcome of the consultation.