On Nov. 8, Rev. Nathan C. Walker, executive director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, took part in a panel discussion during the International Development Law Organization’s half-day conference, “Freedom of Religion or Belief: Promoting Peaceful Coexistence Through Human Rights.” The conference, which took place in Rome, was held in conjunction with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
IDLO’s new report, “Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Law: Current Dilemmas and Lessons Learned,” was also released on Nov. 8 to mark the event. The report “highlights the risks to freedom of religion in both religious and secular societies from a range of factors, and underlines the importance of the rule of the law and the principles of equality and equal protection in finding solutions that are effective, fair and sustainable,” according to a release by IDLO.
“When the state regulates religions, there is an increase in violence and hostility, across many continual types,” said Rev. Walker during the discussion.
Walker, in his previous role as a research associate with IDLO, served as a contributing author to this report. It was first presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2014. Dr. Brian J. Grim served as an expert reviewer for this report and is now a distinguished fellow at the Religious Freedom Center.
The other panelists were Saul Meghnagi, representing the Union of Italian Jewish Communities; Paolo Naso, coordinator of the Study Commission of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy; Yahya Pallavicini, president of the Italian Islamic Religious Community; and Giancarlo Penza, Focal Point for International Affairs, Community of Sant’Egidio. The discussion was moderated by Silvio Ferrari, professor of law and religion, University of Milan.