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Recent Issue of Religious Liberty Journal Highlights AIDLR Conference in Lisbon

Gewissen und Freiheit encapsulates the organization’s commitment to upholding the freedom of conscience for all

Portugal | Andreas Mazza with APD, EUDnews

The 2023 issue of the annual journal Gewissen und Freiheit ("Conscience and Liberty") has recently been published. Its theme is "Religion and Freedom of Expression." It is published by the International Association for the Defense of Religious Freedom (AIDLR). The journal is published in German, English, and French.

An AIDLR conference on religion and freedom of expression took place in Lisbon, Portugal, on February 7–8, 2023. The new 302-page edition of Gewissen und Freiheit documents the presentations given in Lisbon. Nazila Ghanea, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, gave a speech based on the topic, entitled "Freedom of Religion or Belief and Freedom of Expression from the Perspective of the United Nations." Other topics included "Freedom of Religious Expression and Human Dignity," "Religion, Freedom of Expression, and Organizations," and "Religion and Freedom of Expression in Today's Society."

Three case reports followed. Susana Sousa Machado, professor of labor law, dealt with "Reflections on Religious Freedom in the Workplace." Dr. Harri Kuhalampi, from Finland, posed the question, "Are fundamental human rights in danger in Finland?" His case report centered on Päivi Räsänen, a member of the Finnish parliament, who was on trial for expressing her Christian beliefs. Lawyer Harald Mueller spoke about "The freedom of religious speech in Germany. Where are its limits?"

The magazine concludes with interviews on the topic, including with Adama Dieng, former special advisor to the UN secretary-general on the Prevention of Genocide, and Ibrahim Salama, head of the Human Rights Treaties Division in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The "Documents" section deals with reports and resolutions from the UN Human Rights Council and European institutions from 2022.

“With a focus on discussing and reflecting on the themes connecting religious freedom and freedom of expression, AIDLR organized this year’s international conference, ‘Religion and Freedom of Expression,’ the interventions and results of which were published in the special edition of [Gewissen und Freiheit 2023], launched in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights,” shared Paulo Macedo, secretary-general of AIDLR.

International Association for the Defence of Religious Freedom (AIDLR)

AIDLR was founded in 1946 by the physician Jean Nussbaum in Paris, France, and is now based in Bern, Switzerland. As the president of the AIDLR, Mário Brito (Bern) reports in the lead article of the new issue of Gewissen und Freiheit. Dr. Nussbaum, a youth at the time, went to Serbia as a volunteer in 1914, shortly after the start of World War I, to help fight a rapidly spreading typhus epidemic. During his stay in this country, he observed that people who belonged to minority groups or professed different religious beliefs and practices were thrown into prison and harassed in various ways. The fact that they held different views was perceived as a threat, not as an enrichment.

When World War II came to an end and the terrible reports of massive human rights violations came to light in all their detail, Dr. Nussbaum decided to found AIDLR with like-minded people.

AIDLR is recognized with consultative status by the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO. Presidents of the Honorary Committee have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, and Mary Robinson, former High Commissioner for Human Rights. Dieng is the current president of the Committee of Honour.

The aim of AIDLR is to promote and uphold the principles of religious freedom, the scientific study of the fundamental rights of freedom of faith and conscience, and the promotion of universal tolerance by safeguarding the rights of individuals to express their beliefs and convictions in public or private.

To learn more about AIDLR, please click here.

The original version of this story was posted on the Adventist Press Service website.