Religion and Human Rights: Ambiguities and Ambivalences of Freedom

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This chapter provides an overview of and discusses certain tendencies in contemporary discussions of religious freedom. In order to situate the topic in a broader theoretical framework, and to clarify the position adopted in the chapter, the chapter begins with some reflections about freedom as a philosophical concept. Thereafter, most of the chapter focuses on freedom in relation to religion and ambiguity and ambivalence in relation hereto, and on ‘freedom as stipulated in law’ as well as on how this law – mainly international human rights law – simultaneously constrains and enables religious life. Thus, the chapter focuses on the subjects of ‘codified freedom’ and freedom of religion rather than, for example, on freedom in a religious sense: that is, freedom as an existential category. The chapter discusses how international law grapples with the ambivalence and ambiguities of religious freedom today and tentatively explores why this is the case precisely now, and why this situation has arisen. It also comments upon the various scholarly responses to the situation that has arisen. In sum, the chapter contributes to providing an overview of the setting or framework within which issues of freedom to and from religion is currently discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFreedom of Religion: An Ambiguous Right in the Contemporary European Legal Order
EditorsHedvig Bernitz, Victoria Enkvist
PublisherHart Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781509935888
ISBN (Print)9781509935864
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameSwedish Studies in European Law


  • International human rights law
  • human rights
  • religious freedom


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