From Conflict to Accountability: Religious Actors and International Law

November 4, 2014, 6:30pm - 8:00pm

Furman Hall 214
245 Sullivan Street

Wine and Cheese from 6:30-7PM

Valid ID and RSVP required. RSVP here  or email audrey.watne@nyu.edu.

Religion makes headlines today often in the context of armed conflicts, clashes with individual liberties, or physical abuses. While religion is sometimes blamed for such violations, the purported conflict between religion and law is not inevitable. So argues Dr. Ioana Cismas in her new book, Religious Actors and International Law, published by Oxford University Press.  Instead, she writes, we should focus on religious actors and their interpretations of religions, which uphold and promote—or transform—oppressive structures and patterns within religions. In breaking down the narrative of conflict between religion and law, Dr. Cismas’ book demonstrates how religious actors may be held accountable for violations of international law.

Commemorating the U.S. launch of Religious Actors and International Law, CHRGJ Scholar in Residence, Dr. Ioana Cismas, will discuss her book in a conversation with distinguished international law scholar Prof. Mark Weston Janis (UConn).  The speakers will examine the potential to shift the focus from incompatibility between religion and law, to that of accountability of religious actors under international law. By drawing on a number of case studies, such as the Holy See/Vatican, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, and churches and religious organizations in Europe, Dr. Cismas will answer the crucial question of whether religious actors have carved out exceptions to international law, or remain accountable under the same international legal norms as their non-religious peers.

About the Speakers:

Professor Mark Weston Janis is William F. Starr Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut, School of Law. He joined the academy in 1980 after practicing corporate and financial law with Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and Paris. A prolific writer, Professor Janis is the author or co-author of three widely used books—International Law, International Law Cases and Commentary, and European Human Rights Law—as well as two books on America’s tradition and historical role in the development of international law, and more than 60 articles on private and public international law. Professor Janis has served on the boards and committees of several international law organizations, including the American Society of International Law, and the International Law Association. He has served as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1990 and as a member of the American Law Institute since 2013.

Dr. Ioana Cismas is a Scholar in Residence at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law. Her current research critically explores the dual legitimation of law and religion in various contexts, including in transitional justice settings. Prior to joining NYU, Ioana served as a consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice while working for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was also the Coordinator of the Law Clinic at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights for which she won the Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching in 2013. Previously, she provided legal and policy expertise to various stakeholders, including the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and acted as legal adviser to a member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee. Dr. Cismas holds a PhD in International Law (summa cum laude) from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.