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Exploring Declarations from around the World that Promote Human Dignity and Religious Freedom for All

  • National Press Club, MWL Conference Room 529 14th St NW Washington, DC 20045 (map)

Join us on the afternoon before the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom for a side event focusing on several important declarations and joint statements on human dignity and religious freedom, discussing the goals, content, and impact of these statements on international religious freedom and human rights discourse.

What role do these statements have in advancing religious freedom, tolerance, and respect? Leading scholars and experts who have participated in drafting and promulgating these important declarations and statements will discuss these efforts, their background, and impact. Confirmed speakers include Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Ján Figeľ, EU Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion outside the EU, Canadian Minister of Parliament David Anderson, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf , President of Zaytuna College. The event will feature a keynote address as well as panel discussion focusing on several key declarations:

  • Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere

  • The American Charter of Freedom of Religion and Conscience

  • The Potomoc Declaration

  • The Beirut Declaration on “Faith for Rights”

  • The Marrakesh Declaration

  • The Olso Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief

  • A Common Word Between Us and You

3-6pm - Program | 6-7pm - Reception in the First Amendment Lounge

Event co-hosted by: International Center for Law and Religion Studies, part of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University and the Religious Freedom Institute.


WATCH EVENT

PART I

PART II

Program

3:00-3:20 pm Welcome and Introduction

Dr. Thomas Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute and Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Founding Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law, Brigham Young University

3:20-3:30 pm              Remarks

Ambassador Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

3:30-3:45 pm              Keynote I

A Common Word Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, President, Zaytuna College

3:45-4:35 pm              Panel One Discussion

The Potomac DeclarationKnox Thames, Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia, U.S. Department of State

The Beirut Declaration on “Faith for Rights”Kishan Manocha, Senior Adviser on Freedom of Religion or Belief, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

The Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief David Anderson, Member of Parliament, House of Commons of Canada; Founding Member and Chair of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Moderator – Timothy S. Shah, Vice President for Strategy and International Research and Director, South and Southeast Asia Action Team, Religious Freedom Institute

4:35-4:50 pm              Coffee Break

4:50-5:10 pm              Keynote II

Special Envoy Ján Figeľ, EU Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief outside the EU

5:10-6:00 pm              Panel Two Discussion

The Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone EverywhereProfessor Brett Scharffs, Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Rex. E. Lee Chair and Professor of Law, BYU Law School

The American CharterDavid Trimble, Director, Center for Religious Freedom Education of the Religious Freedom Institute

The Marrakesh DeclarationShaykh Umar Al-Qadri, Chair of Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council

Moderator Fr. Dcn. Andrew Bennett, Senior Fellow and Director, North America Action Team, Religious Freedom Institute; Programme Director, Cardus Law

6:00-7:00 pm             Reception


Confirmed Speakers

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Shaykh Umar al-Qadri is founder and CEO of Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council. Shaykh al-Qadri is a renowned Islamic scholar who was brought up in the Netherlands and travelled to Pakistan at the age of 15 to study Islamic Law. After completion of his studies from Minhaj-ul-Quran Islamic University he moved to Ireland in 2004 and established the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre in Dublin. He is one of the leading Muslim clerics in Europe that promote an inclusive and plural society, and is a firm believer in interfaith and intra faith relations. As a Sunni Muslim scholar, he has attended many Shia Muslim gatherings and events as a speaker and penned the introduction to ”A journey together, A Muslim Christian dialogue resource" (Cois Tine, Ireland). Shaykh Al-Qadri also lectures regularly in various Irish mosques, Muslim community centres, Colleges and Universities on Islam and contemporary issues. His lectures are aired regularly on various Islamic TV channels across the globe. Currently his lectures are aired weekly on ARY QTV. Shaykh Al-Qadri promotes integration of Muslims in Ireland and has spoken on many public platforms and stressed the importance of integration of the Muslim community in the West. He has spoken against extremism within Muslims and believes that it is his responsibility as a Muslim to contribute to a peaceful society and to fight against extremism. In January 2004 he launched an anti radicalisation website www.jihad.ie to promote the true concept of Jihad and stop Muslim youth from radicalising. Shaykh Al-Qadri also represents the Muslim Community of Ireland in various governmental and non-governmental bodies and organisations, including Fingal Ethnic Network, PPN Dublin City Council, New Communities Partnership, Three Faith Forum and the Migrant Family Support Centre. Shaykh Al-Qadri has also written in the Irish Media on Muslim related affairs and is has been mentioned by the Irish Media on many occasions. IMPIC is the brainchild of Shaykh Al-Qadri. Shaykh Al-Qadri lives in Dublin with his wife and three children.

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David Anderson is the Member of Parliament for the Saskatchewan riding of Cypress Hills–Grasslands. David was first elected in 2000 and subsequently re-elected five times. He has served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Consular. He currently serves as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Human Rights and Religious Freedom.

He has been committed to raising awareness of the need to protect religious freedom around the world, hosting Parliamentary Forums on Religious Freedom, and also worked to pass Motion 382, which unanimously declared the Parliament of Canada’s support for religious freedom around the world. David is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief.

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The Rev. Dr. Andrew P.W. Bennett serves as Senior Fellow and Director of the North American Action Team of the Religious Freedom Institute. He is a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic deacon of the Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada. Fr. Deacon Andrew also serves as Senior Fellow at Cardus, Canada’s faith-based think-tank, where he is Programme Director of Cardus Law which looks at the role of law in society with a particular focus on religious freedom in Canada. Fr. Deacon And­­rew previously served in the Canadian foreign service as Canada's first Ambassador for Religious Freedom and Head of the Office of Religious Freedom from 2013 to 2016 during which time he led in defending and championing religious freedom internationally as a core element of Canada's principled foreign policy. He remains a regular and active commentator on religious freedom in Canada and abroad. Fr. Deacon Andrew’s ambassadorial appointment was the culmination of a 14-year career in the Canadian civil service. He holds a B.A. Hons. in History (Dalhousie), an M.A. in History (McGill), and a Ph.D. in Politics (Edinburgh).

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Ambassador Sam Brownback is the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the United States Department of State.

Sam Brownback was sworn in as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom on February 1, 2018. He served as Governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018. Previously he served as a U.S. Senator (1996-2011) and a U.S. Representative in the House of Representatives (1995-1996) from Kansas. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. He also served as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture (1986-1993) and was a White House Fellow in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (1990-1991). Prior to his public service, Ambassador Brownback was a private attorney in Kansas and taught agricultural law at Kansas State University, co-authoring two books on the subject. He earned a B.S. from Kansas State University and a J.D. from the University of Kansas.

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Cole Durham is internationally known for his contributions to protecting religious freedoms.

The Founding Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, W. Cole Durham, Jr. is Susa Young Gates University Professor of Law at J. Reuben Clark Law School. Professor Durham has received multiple honors, including appointment as co-chair of the OSCE Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and service as vice president of the International Academy for Freedom of Religion and Belief.

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Professor Durham has been heavily involved in comparative constitutional law and church-state relations throughout his career. He has published widely on Comparative Law, has served in the past as the chair of both the Comparative Law Section and the Law and Religion Section of the American Association of Law Schools, and is a member of several U.S. and international advisory boards dealing with religious freedom and church-state relations.

Thomas Farr serves as President of the Religious Freedom Institute. A leading authority on international religious freedom, Dr. Farr served for 28 years in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Foreign Service. In 1999 he became the first director of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom. He subsequently directed the Witherspoon Institute's International Religious Freedom (IRF) Task Force, was a member of the Chicago World Affairs Council’s Task Force on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy, taught at the National Defense University, and served on the Secretary of State’s IRF working group. From 2008 – 2018 Dr. Farr was Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He also directed the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown’s Berkley Center. A PhD in History from the University of North Carolina, Farr is a senior fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He serves as a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace; on the boards of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Christian Solidarity Worldwide-USA, and Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School; and on the boards of the Alexander Hamilton Society and the National Museum of American Religion. Farr teaches regularly at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. Arguments from his 2008 book, World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Freedom is Vital to American National Security (Oxford University Press), have shaped U.S. religious freedom legislation and foreign policy.

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Dr. Ján Figeľ was nominated in May 2016 by the European Commission as the first Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the European Union. Formerly European Commissioner for Education, Training & Culture, Dr. Figeľ has also held other positions such as State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was the Chief Negotiator for Slovakia’s accession into the EU. He joined the Christian Democratic Movement party in 1990 and was elected in 1992 as an MP to the National Council of the Slovak Republic, serving on its Foreign Affairs Committee and becoming a member of Slovakia’s delegation to the Council of Europe. In 1998 he was appointed State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was also the representative of the Slovak government in the European Convention which drafted the European Constitution. From 2004 to 2009 he served as European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, with a brief stint as Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society. In 2009 he was elected leader of the Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia. He stepped down from his Commission post in 2009 following his election as leader of the Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia.

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Kishan Manocha is Senior Adviser on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Dr. Kishan Manocha has extensive experience in religious freedom issues in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Central and South Asia as an advocate, researcher, trainer and consultant to a number of international and non-governmental organizations. He has been Senior Adviser on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw since May 2015. Prior to that he served as Director of the Office of Public Affairs of the Bahá’í community of the United Kingdom. Kishan holds degrees in medicine and law from the Universities of London and Cambridge respectively. He first trained in psychiatry, completing a Research Fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry, before studying law and going onto practice as a barrister. Kishan has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard University and a Fellow of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He has lectured in public international law and international human rights law at universities in Pakistan, Poland, and the UK, and is a Research Fellow at the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, a Professional Associate at the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University, and chairs the Faith Matters Advisory Board. He was also actively involved in interfaith dialogue activities at the local and national levels in the UK for over two decades and is currently member of the Advisory Committee to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.

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Brett Scharffs is the Rex E. Lee Chair and Professor of Law at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. His teaching and scholarly interests include law and religion, legal reasoning and rhetoric, philosophy of law, and legislation and regulation. A Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, he received his JD from Yale Law School. Professor Scharffs was a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, and worked as a legal assistant at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague. Before teaching at BYU, he worked as an attorney for the New York law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell. For the past ten years he has been a visiting Professor at Central European University in Budapest, and for the past seven years he has helped organize a Certificate Training Program on Religion and the Rule of Law in Beijing in partnership with Peking University Law School’s Center for Administrative and Constitutional Law. He also co-organizes similar programs in Vietnam and Myanmar. He has also been working to develop a masters-level course on Shari’a and Human Rights with two universities in Indonesia. In his eighteen year academic career, Professor Scharffs has written more than 100 articles and book chapters, and has made over 300 scholarly presentations in 30 countries. His articles include The Role of Humility in Exercising Practical Wisdom (U.C. Davis Law Review), Adjudication and the Problems of Incommensurability (William and Mary Law Review), Law as Craft (Vanderbilt Law Review), and The Character of Legal Reasoning (Washington and Lee Law Review). He is currently finishing work on a book about legal reasoning and rhetoric.

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Timothy Samuel Shah serves as Vice President for Strategy and International Research and the Director of the South and Southeast Asia Action Team of the Religious Freedom Institute. He is based in Bangalore, India, and serves as non-resident Research Professor of Government at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion. Until mid-2018, he served as Director for International Research at the Religious Freedom Research Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. He is a political scientist specializing in religious freedom as well as in the broad relationship between religious and political dynamics in theory, history, and contemporary practice. He has directed or co-directed numerous grant-funded collaborative research initiatives, including a Pew-funded study of evangelical Protestantism and politics that generated three volumes with Oxford University Press; a Harvard University-based study of religion and global politics; a study supported by the Templeton-funded Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs research initiative on Christianity and freedom; a multi-year standing seminar on religion and religious freedom and their relationship to human nature and human experience, which led to a volume published by Cambridge; and a study he co-directed with Daniel Philpott on contemporary Christian responses to persecution, which also led to a volume published by Cambridge. Shah is author, co-author, and editor of a number of books including: author, Even if There is No God: Hugo Grotius and the Secular Foundations of Modern Political Liberalism (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2019); Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Human Right (Witherspoon Institute, 2012); co-author with Monica Duffy Toft and Daniel Philpott God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics (W.W. Norton and Company, 2011); and editor with Daniel Philpott of the volume, Under Caesar’s Sword: Christian Responses to Persecution (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

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Knox Thames currently serves as the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. The first to serve in this capacity, he received a civil service appointment in September 2015 and leads State Department efforts to address the situation of religious minorities in these regions.

For over a decade and a half, Mr. Thames has worked in various U.S. government capacities, including at two different U.S. government foreign policy commissions, and is an expert on a range of international affairs issues, including human rights, religious freedom, counter extremism, and international organizations. His country expertise covers the Middle East and South and Central Asia. Before joining the State Department, he was the Director of Policy and Research at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Prior to that, he served in the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department and was Counsel for six years at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission). In addition, the U.S. Army War College appointed him as an Adjunct Professor from 2013-2016 and the State Department appointed him from 2004-2012 to the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Mr. Thames holds a Bachelors of Arts from Georgetown College, a Juris Doctorate from American University’s Washington College of Law, and a Masters in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service. He also studied at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. An author of numerous articles, his writing has been featured in the Yale Journal of International Affairs, ForeignPolicy.com, and Small Wars Journal. He has been interviewed by the Associated Press, Agence France Presse, the Christian Science Monitor, CNN, FOX News, and the Washington Post.

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David Trimble serves as Director of the Center for Religious Freedom Education at the Religious Freedom Institute and Senior Fellow for RFI’s Middle East and International Religious Freedom Policy Action Teams. After serving as a principal and Of Counsel at the leading D.C. firm of Van Scoyoc Associates for many years, Mr. Trimble now leads the Religious Freedom Institute’s nationwide and international initiatives in secondary and higher education. Within that context, he brings a wealth of experience to the academy and civil society in international affairs, foreign policy, higher education, and shaping domestic and international public policy. With a degree in law, expert knowledge from working with the executive and legislative branches of the federal government at the highest levels, plus years of teaching religion at the graduate level, Mr. Trimble understands the vitally important role of education to stable societies and the myriad threats that challenge both academic and religious freedom.

Throughout his career, Mr. Trimble has focused on the intersection between religion and policy. He is recognized in the U.S. and abroad for his international religious freedom advocacy on behalf of ethnic and religious minorities and for his acute knowledge of legislative process. Mr. Trimble’s leadership at the RFI’s Center for Religious Freedom Education is based on classroom expertise, launching seminal programs in education, and driving new policies and innovation. Under his leadership, the Center is committed to supporting the free exercise of religious freedom for all through education with a voice that informs tomorrow’s young leaders and shapes sound policies for a more civil America. 

Mr. Trimble holds a Juris Doctorate from Texas A&M University School of Law, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts from Campbellsville University. In addition, Mr. Trimble has completed post-graduate studies at both Southwestern and Baylor University.

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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is president and senior faculty member of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, America’s first accredited Muslim liberal arts college. He is an advisor to the Center for Islamic Studies at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. Yusuf also serves as vice president for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies (Abu Dhabi), which was founded and is currently presided over by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, a world-renowned Muslim scholar and jurist. In addition, Yusuf has joined the Emirates Fatwa Council under the leadership of Shaykh Abdallah. He is the author of several books and scholarly articles, while also translating major creedal Islamic texts into English. Books he has authored or translated include Purification of the Heart, The Content of Character, The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi, Caesarean Moon Births, Prayer of the Oppressed, and Agenda to Change our Condition. Recently, Hamza Yusuf was ranked as “the Western world’s most influential Islamic scholar” by The Muslim 500, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin. Along with his extensive training in the Western liberal arts, Yusuf has studied Arabic and the Islamic sciences for over 40 years with leading scholars of the Muslim world.


Co-Sponsor

Founded in 2000, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies is part of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, one of the largest private universities in the United States. The Center’s mission is to “help secure the blessings of religious liberty for all,” through scholarship, networking, educational activities, and law reform efforts.