Friday, March 10, 2017


Bernstein Symposium to Be Held on Human Rights and Religion

The Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Symposium will be held March 23–24, 2017. This year’s symposium will address the complex relationships between human rights and religion. According to organizers, the resurgence of interest in the role of religious belief and practice in global affairs “is one of the most interesting developments of the opening years of the millennium.” The symposium will feature conversations with scholars and advocates in three panel discussions. View the full program.

Larry Cox, Co-Director of Kairos: The Center on Religious, Rights and Social Justice, will give the keynote address on Thursday, March 23. His talk is entitled “Why Human Rights Needs Religion.” Cox, has spent more than four decades working for human rights, justice, and peace in the United States and worldwide. Prior to joining Kairos, Cox was Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.

The first panel on Friday morning will focus on the history of human rights. Samuel Moyn, renowned Professor of Law and History at Harvard University will moderate the panel. Moyn’s latest book Christian Human Rights argues the rise of human rights after the Second World War was inspired in part by Christian conceptions of dignity. Suzanne Stone, Professor of Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law will speak at the panel with Dr. Sarah Azaransky, who has written extensively about Yale alumna and civil rights activist Pauli Murray. Yale professors, Lamin Sanneh and Zareena Grewel will also join the conversation.

On Friday afternoon, Paul Kahn, Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School will moderate a discussion on religion as a human right. The conversation will discuss the ways in which religion as a right informs policies of governments and institutions. Rabbi, lawyer, and former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, David Saperstein will speak at panel. Saperstein has headed several national religious coalitions, including the Coalition to Protect Religious Liberty.

The third and final panel discussion will examine the way in which religious communities encounter human rights, through the lens of advocacy for gender equality and reproductive rights. Karima Bennoune, Professor of International Law at the University of California-Davis School of Law will speak at the panel. Her latest book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism, received widespread praise. In 2015, Bennoune was named Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. Other speakers at the panel include Louise Melling, Deputy Legal Director of the Center of Liberty at the ACLU and Debora Dinez, lawyer, documentarian and co-founder of Anis, a feminist group dedicated to bioethics in Latin America. Hope Metcalf, Executive Director of the Schell Center will moderate the panel.

Richard Amesbury, Professor of Theological Ethics, University of Zurich will deliver closing reflections.

The Bernstein Symposium occurs annually and is sponsored by the Orville. H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School and the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship Program.