The International Association of Constitutional Law || l'Association Internationale de Droit Constitutionnel

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The activities of this group focus on one of the questions that has been most profoundly affected by trends towards globalization, namely the relationship of religion to constitutionalism.


The activities of this group focus on one of the questions that has been most profoundly affected by trends towards globalization, namely the relationship of religion to constitutionalism.

Specifically, two trends pose daunting challenges to traditional approaches to reconciling constitutionalism and religion. First, in the context of globalization, large scale migration makes constitutional democracies much more religiously diverse. Such migrations also often lead to confrontations with religions and religious cultures that are at significant odds with prevailing mores and with religions that are well integrated into the country of immigration. Moreover, several commentators have argued that intensification of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism – including that behind global terrorism – is a direct reaction to dislocations and inequities associated with globalization.

Second, the concurrent process of globalization and privatization has led to an increasing blurring of the line between the public sphere and the private sphere. In this connection, religion has become “deprivatized”, in a trend started in the 1980’s in countries as different as Iran, Poland, Brazil and the United States. Deprivatized religion not only seeks a much increased role in the public sphere but also in the political arena. As a result of this, reconciliation of constitutionalism and religion through adherence to secularism in the public place becomes increasingly difficult and contested.

To “re-examine” principles, in general, and the relation between constitutionalism and religion, in particular, fruitfully in light of the above sketched circumstances requires an approach that is both interdisciplinary and comparative. Indeed, no single discipline or single constitutional tradition is likely to account for the complexity or of the far reaching implications of the profound changes that have taken place over the last quarter century. Accordingly, notwithstanding the mainly “constitutional-law approach” of the research group, one of the aims of the overall project is to foster a dialogue between legal scholars, political scientists, sociologists, philosophers and specialists in religious law and religious culture, coming from diverse constitutional traditions and from polities with very different religious profiles, different dynamics among prevailing religions, and different approaches to the relationship between religion and the state. Particular focus has thus far been – and will continue to be – placed on the United States, Europe, the Middle East, India and select countries in Africa and Asia. Moreover, it has been, and will continue to be, a high priority of the project to bring together and foment a dialogue among participants with differing attitudes towards religion, ranging from militant secularists who are defenders of French “laicité” to its Turkish counterpart – which leaves virtually no room for religion in the public sphere – to persons closely associated personally and professionally with institutionalized religion.

Recent activities

The members of the research group have held various meetings in Paris and organized a two-day conference in New York in October 2008. All of these activities resulted in the publication of a special symposium issue of the Cardozo Law Review, with contributions by: Daphne Barak-Erez, Leora Bilsky, Pierre Birnbaum, John Borneman, Murat Borovali, John Donohue, Ken Greeanwalt, Dieter Grimm, Guy Haarscher, Ran Hirschl, Marcela Iacub, Karl-Heinz Ladeur, Matthias Mahlmann, Maleiha Malik, Susanna Mancini, Andrew March, Frances Raday, Isabelle Rorive, Michel Rosenfeld, Andras Sajo, Gidi Sapir, Adam B. Seligman, Ayelet Shachar, Daniel Statman, Michel Troper, Francoise Tulkens and Patrick Weil.

A meeting of the group took place in Jerusalem (24 April 2010) and the group will take part in a conference on ‘Religion in the Public Square’ in Budapest (4-5 June 2010).

Contact details

Professor Susanna Mancini
Professor of Law, Law School of the University of Bologna and Adjunct Professor, SAIS Johns Hopkins University, Bologna center
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Professor Hélène Ruiz-Fabri
Professor of Law, Director of the Joint Institute for Comparative Law, University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne/CNRS