International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Americans understand religious freedom as separation of church and state. In international law, however, freedom of religion or belief is based on the principle of non-discrimination. Articles 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights define the parameters of "religious freedom" under international law.

In the past decade the independence of countries formerly under the hegemony of the Soviet Union, increasing religious fundamentalism in many parts of the world, and new legal initiatives by the United States government have changed the landscape concerning religious freedom. 

The following essays by Robert Traer explore the meaning of religious freedom in international law and its realization in various contexts.  Critiques of these essays will be welcomed and considered for publication on this web site.

Religious Freedom - A Community Right 

1991 argument that under international law, freedom of religion or belief is not merely an individual right.

Rethinking Religious Freedom

1996 analysis of international law with examples from American and Russian law.

A Contextual Approach to Religious Freedom

1997 contextual approach to freedom of religion or belief that seeks to realize the spirit of the law, and not merely the letter of the law. 

Religious Freedom: 1998 UN Speech

1998 statement at a United Nations Department of Public Information Briefing for  the Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Religious Tolerance in the United Kingdom

1998 statement at an Inter-religious Hearing held in the House of Commons in London.

Comment on Religious Freedom to the World Council of Churches

1999 suggestions made at a World Council of Churches consultation involving Christians and Muslims. © Robert Traer 2016