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Human/Civil Rights

Session Chair: N.N. | Friday, August 28, 3 :30-5 :30 p.m. | Venue

Leslie James

Redefining the Twentieth Century: Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

This paper explores the religious dynamics of African-American and African-Diaspora, religious traditions and movements in relationship to the twentieth century, in particular the1960s Civil Rights Movement in the United States. From the perspective of the history of religions, it focuses on the power of ideas, beliefs, and religious values in the lives of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as change agents in the lives of people and movements seeking social transformation. Taking W.E.B. DuBois’ definition of “the problem of the twentieth-century” as its point of departure, the paper argues that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. contributed significantly to the emergence of a new vision of global humanity in modernity that opened horizons and spaces of reflections on the intersections between religion, historical consciousness, self awareness, and interpretations of temporality that are relevant today.

Leonard Taylor

Catholicism and the structure of international law

The following paper seeks to address the overlapping and diverging concerns of two complimentary but also contradictory bodies of thought found in human rights law and Catholicism. Religions have come to the fore in international human rights debate exhibiting the fault lines between the secular and religious, the church and state but it is Catholicism, despite its periphery status that has contributed most to the way such debates are negotiated. The legacy of Catholicism interaction with the emerging nation state, its political institutions and the structuring of international law, presents an opportunity to inquire about the stances taken by this religion and offer reflection on its relationship to international law. It also provides the potential to enquire if international law and human rights law in particular has inherited a bias towards religions which are inspired by alternative resources than that of Catholicism.

Joseph Prabhu

Human Rights in Interreligious Perspective

Human Rights(HR) have become a universal moral language. The fundamental document of HR discourse is still The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948. It, however, deliberately eschewed religion as part of its account of the foundational concepts "human" and "human dignity," which underlie it. This paper revisits that debate in light of later cross-cultural and interreligious discussions, which serve to broaden its universal appeal. What conceptions of "religion" in East and West might help to move beyond the divisiveness often associated with religious affiliation? What might these suggested conceptions add to human rights discourse? This paper lays out a two-part dialogue to resolve these questions: 1. A secular-religious one about HR; and 2 an interreligious dialogue based on HR. The claim is that these discussions would render HR more effective and universal in practice.

Yolotl González Torres

Religion and Human Rights in Mexico

Mexico is passing through a sad and violent period in its history: social insecurity, murder, kidnapping, corruption, and so on. Much of it due to drug trafficking and its infiltration in government instances. The government has not been able to control the violence; on the contrary, the police and the army have been accused of being part of that repression. It has been said that Mexico is a "failed state". Curiously enough, although the Catholic Church has had an ultra-conservative history, has lately been a group of priests, nuns and lay Catholics who have been very active against social injustice and have been fighting for human rights, criticizing the incompetence government for its policies against violence. The attitude of this group of people has become more belligerent every day, to the point, they are calling for a Constituent Assembly and a recasting of Mexico on the basis of a new moral.


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