Representatives From African Nations and Interfaith Leaders Attend Landmark Rel

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For years, delegates from across the world have gathered in Provo, Utah, at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University (BYU) for the annual symposium on law and religion. This year marked the university’s 30th consecutive symposium, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We’re excited to celebrate the 30th anniversary and to look back and see the growth. We started as a small conference primarily hosting Eastern European leaders after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but over time, this has become truly global. We’ve had tremendous leaders come from Africa and are grateful for the wisdom and insights that they have shared with us,” said Professor Elizabeth Clark, one of the organizers.

Seven countries from Africa were represented at the symposium in the United States this year. Delegations from Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa presented passionately about religion, law and human rights in their countries.

“I have learned so much. I leave here more illuminated and richer as a person. Thank you to the Center and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Gabriel da Barca Júnior, a member of parliament from Mozambique.

A diverse audience of 115 delegates from 52 countries gathered to present academic papers and engage in meaningful dialogue on how diverse religions can build a united community. This year’s theme was “Protecting the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion: 75 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The Rule of Law Supporting Religious Freedom

Whether from Indonesia or Ireland, Brazil or Belgium, scholars; diplomats; judges; and government, civic and religious leaders focused their attention on human dignity. They discussed how the rule of law can ensure that the rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are meaningful.

“It is really amazing here,” said Dr. Francis K. Kagema, secretary general of the African Council of Religious Leaders and executive director of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya. “It is hugely diverse, providing us a great opportunity to learn from each other,” he said.

Attending the Church’s General Conference

While the delegates were in Utah, they attended the Church’s semiannual general conference, featuring the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

“General conference was a wonderful event. The choral music was beyond this world. The next time I come, I want to bring my wife,” said Dr. Kagema.

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies is part of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, a university of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church and its members sponsor the event.

All the papers and presentations from the event will be available online in the future at https://www.iclrs.org/. The event is by invitation only and will reconvene next year. A regional event will be held in May 2024 in Zimbabwe.





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