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Prince or Pariah? The Place of Freedom of Religion in a System of International Human Rights


  • Lorenzo Zucca


The human right to freedom of religion (HRFR) at the international level is a deeply contested concept and is interpreted in radically different ways in the respective historical constitutional instruments of the US and Europe. It is, for example, embedded in the First Amendment of the American Constitution, but finds no explicit recognition in the French Declaration of Rights. The question that emerges from this simple starting point is: what is the place of freedom of religion in a system of protection of international human rights? Is there a single answer to this question, or is it a deeply contingent matter that depends on discrete constitutional histories? This paper attempts to unravel this deeply contentious issue, which goes to the very core of disagreement about the nature of the human rights to freedom of religion. Lacking agreement as to what constitutes freedom of religion, international intervention should limit itself to the bare minimum in this area. This renders freedom of religion a pariah at the international level.

Suggested Citation

  • Lorenzo Zucca, 2013. "Prince or Pariah? The Place of Freedom of Religion in a System of International Human Rights," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 26, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0339

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