International Law Regarding Freedom of Religion

We in the U.S. are familiar with our constitutional protections of freedom of religion.[1] In addition, international law has recognized the right to religious freedom. Here are the most important ones for those of us in the Western Hemisphere.

Under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”[2]

Under Article 18(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”[3]

Under Article 12(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and of religion. This right includes freedom to maintain or to change one’s religion or beliefs, and freedom to profess or disseminate one’s religion or beliefs, either individually or together with others, in public or in private.”[4]

In addition, under Article 1(A)(2) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a “refugee” is defined to include “any person” who has a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of . . . religion. . . , is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country . . . . ” [5]


[1] U.S. Const., First Amend.

[2] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/b1udhr.htm.

[3] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/b3ccpr.htm.

[4]  American Convention on Human Rights, http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/oasinstr/zoas3con.htm.

[5] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,  http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html.

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

10 thoughts on “International Law Regarding Freedom of Religion”

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