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UCLan Annual Postgraduate Research Conference 2023

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The methods governments are using to recognise religions and to legally register their affiliate organisations is a growing area of concern in the human rights field but cultural and religious sensitivities continue to complicate the matter. International monitors of religious freedom consistently present data on recognition and registration issues which highlights that how the state deals with religious recognition has the ability to shape a country’s religious freedom conditions. This study takes a ‘recognitionist’ approach to religious freedom meaning it sees recognition and registration as central to determining conditions of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). Issues include the state limiting access to registration, the state making registration procedures onerous, the state using registration to restrict unfavoured religious groups or to surveil their members, and the state using its recognition system to delegitimise certain denominations (i.e. by labelling them a ‘cult’ or ‘extremist’). The aim of the study was to create a Religious Recognition Framework comprising several components, prime among which was a series of standards setting out appropriate behaviour for governments when it comes to handling recognition of religion or belief (RoRB). These standards outlined permissible and impermissible state actions for each key variable, split into the three stages of registration (i.e. preregistration, registration and post-registration). Two interview series were conducted to explore this topic further, the first with subject matter experts who conversed on technical matters like identifying registration issues and recommending solutions at national and international levels. The second interview series involved individuals who conversed on how they had personally suffered from state misuses of religious recognition. The interview data, in combination with human rights reports, supported the hypothesis that existing guidelines for RoRB are not sufficient and that definitive standards are needed to set parameters for these issues.

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External organisation (Academic)

NameUniversity of Central Lancashire
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom