The Shift in Focus
Is there an inevitable conflict between international law and religion? This question fails to acknowledge the central role of religious actors in constructing meaning and attributing significance to religious texts and practices—and hence their agency in furthering or frustrating human rights law. A shift in focus is proposed, away from religion as an amorphous category towards religious actors as agents who interpret it; and away from examining the (in)compatibility of religion with law towards establishing the accountability of religious actors under international law. The relevant question is whether religious actors, state and non-state entities, operate in a different legality regime than their non-religious peers? The introduction explains the legal and societal relevance of this approach, the choice of case studies and sets out the central arguments to be verified: that religious actors do not enjoy special or exclusive rights and lesser obligations when compared to their non-religious peers.
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