Constitutionalism and Religion

Constitutionalism and Religion

Elgar Monographs in Constitutional and Administrative Law series

Francois Venter

This topical book examines how the goals of constitutionalism – good and fair government – are addressed at a time when the multi-religious composition of countries’ populations has never before been so pronounced.

Chapter 5: Religion in international law

Francois Venter

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, law and society, legal philosophy


As we have seen in Chapter 1, it is not always clear what the concept ‘religion’ entails, since there are divergent views on the matter. The application of the notion in international law is no different and, due to the inevitably global (as opposed to national) spectrum of variation, perhaps even more complex. It is possible and desirable to approach the theme of this chapter from two perspectives. First, religion has had, and perhaps surprisingly still has, a profound influence on the history and present state of international law. In the first section a brief exposition is given of the influence of religion on the development of international law. Secondly, international law impacts significantly on religion around the world and in international intercourse. In section 5.2 an overview of the manner in which international law deals with religion and religion-related matters is presented. In the third section the manner in which religion figures in diplomacy and international discourse is discussed and in the fourth section the role of religious institutions in international law is described. In 1990 Mark Janis compiled a collection of astute essays on the influence of religion on the development of international law which has retained its value over more than two decades. Janis' preface opens with the following striking remarks: The connection between religion and international law is close but nowadays surprisingly little studied or analyzed. This lack of attention has, I think, two causes.

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