Love thy neighbour as thyself? Rights & religion.
Are rights and religion natural partners with an overlapping worldview, or arch-enemies with conflicting interpretations of how we live with our neighbours near and far.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I couldn't spare the two days to attend what looked like a fascinating conference in Belfast, which examined this and other questions about the place of faith and human rights in the modern world.
So I'm glad to see that the NI Human Rights Commission and the Irish School of Ecumenics, which co-hosted the November 2007 event, have (finally!) gotten around to publishing a report of papers from the conference.
From the foreword by David Tombs of the ISE:
"The vision of human rights that developed after the Second World War correctly recognised the importance of human rights as being shared by all people. Human rights are universal, and offer dignity and protection to all. Yet from the very outset, there has been debate on how universal human rights should be understood in relation to cultural diversity and religious pluralism. The unresolved issues from these debates remain with us and are likely to become more complex and more pressing in an increasingly globalised world. How are the rights to freedom of conscience and religious belief best protected? What limits, if any, should human rights set on religious practice and behaviour? How can the rights of majorities and the rights of minorities in pluralist societies be balanced? Negotiating these challenges in constructive and imaginative ways is a key task for the twenty-first century."
I look forward to reading the report – Rights and Righteousness: Perspectives on Religious Pluralism and Human Rights – which is to be launched on Thursday 6 May at 4pm at ISE, 683 Antrim Road, Belfast. You don't have to wait, however, as it is already available for download here.
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