Religion and Constitutional Practices in Asia
9-10 November 2017: ICES Colombo
A conference on Religion and Constitutional Practices in Asia organised by the Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) at the National University of Singapore and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES), Sri Lanka, with support from Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Ford Foundation, and USAID was held on 9 & 10 November 2017 at ICES in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The ways in which religion interacts with and influences law and policy-making have become a topic of growing significance. They raise questions, among others, about managing legal and religious pluralism; on how religion is utilised as a tool for social and political mobilisation; and on how different countries approach state-citizen relations in matters involving religion. This conference, Religion and Constitutional Practices in Asia, brought together a group of seasoned and emerging scholars from a variety of jurisdictions to examine how religion informs constitutional practice and development in 12 Asian countries, each with different constitutional arrangements on religion.
The conference attracted over 50 local and international participants, in addition to 20 presenters and discussants. Some of the topics discussed include: the relationship between religious and secular authorities in a state; the operation of religious personal laws; and the importance of social and political contexts in assessing the impact of constitutional recognition (and non-recognition) of religion.
A special roundtable discussion featuring Professor Andrew Harding (Professor of Law, NUS Faculty of Law), Professor Radhika Coomaraswamy (Emeritus Fellow at ICES and Member of the Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka), and Dr Asanga Welikala (Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law) was held on the last day of the conference, followed by a book launch of two recently-published monographs by Associate Professor Benjamin Schonthal (University of Otago) and Dr Dian A. H. Shah (NUS) investigating the relationship between religion, constitutional law, and politics in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia respectively.