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The South Caucasus Disputes between Self-Determination, Territorial Integrity, and the Quest for a European Engagement Policy
This book examines secessionist entities that arose during and after the dissolution process of the USSR and considers them as legal subjects in their own right. By employing a novel and more innovative approach, the agency of these subjects, otherwise often ignored or disregarded, is taken into account. Drawing on the cases of the South Caucasus, the author suggests going beyond the binary concept of statehood and traditional notions of sovereignty. He advocates embracing an inclusive reading of international law, which enables to foster creative ambiguity vis-à-vis these entities as means of conflict transformation.
Critical Perspectives on the Accommodation of Religious Diversities
The accommodation of religious diversity in contemporary pluralist societies is undoubtedly amongst the most salient issues on today’s political agenda, not least due to the challenges posed by migration. A subject of considerable debate is how to reconcile the demands of religious and cultural diversity alongside political unity, that is, how to create a political community that is cohesive and stable and satisfies the legitimate aspirations of minorities. This volume provides a critical analysis of the institutional accommodations and legal frameworks conceived by and/or for historical religious groups and assesses their potential and shortcomings in providing for an integrated society based on human- and minority rights protection.
In: Religious Minorities in Pluralist Societies
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Abstract

The Chapter analyses the challenges posed to non-Orthodox Jewish minorities by the Israeli millet system in matters of personal status and citizenship. From the outset, the complex system of interplay between different sources and implementations of the law becomes prominent, including the plurality of courts dealing with personal status matters. In Israel, the adoption of the millet combines with the partial establishment of Orthodox Judaism in State institutions. The Chapter maintains that Israel’s constitutional and legal framework regulating the relationships between the State, religion and religious groups is mainly based on a communitarian paradigm, which constructs citizenship along ethno-religious lines. While granting recognized religious communities a great deal of organizational and jurisdictional autonomy, the millet conceives them as homogeneous groups; thus, ignoring inherent pluralism in religion. The main purpose of this contribution is to highlight the shortcomings of the Israeli millet, which raises questions in terms of freedom of religion (and from religion), citizens’ equality before the law, and identity rights with regard to both non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jewish groups within the Jewish majority of the population.

In: Religious Minorities in Pluralist Societies

Abstract

The unique legal system in family law in Israel provides an opportunity for examining the influence of religious courts and religious law on a given society through its legal system. In this paper, we discuss the dynamic relationships between rabbinical courts, civil courts, and society.

Rabbinical courts in Israel are a religious institution officially recognized by the law of the state, with jurisdiction over the Jewish population in some matters of personal status and family law (similarly, other Israeli religious communities – those of the Moslems, 10 Christian denominations, and Druze, are subject to the jurisdiction of their religious courts in similar matters). Intuitively, we expect rabbinical courts to apply Jewish law, and civil courts to apply secular civil law. But this is not always the case; the complex structure of Israeli family law leads to various situations, as for example, when religious law is applied by a secular civil court, and secular law is applied by a religious court. This intricate situation is part of the complexity of the societal place of rabbinical courts within Jewish society.

In this paper we review various areas in which decisions of rabbinical courts affect Jewish Israeli society and evaluate the role of this influence in the life of the citizens. We show how the effect of the decisions of rabbinical courts depends on various elements: the extent of their jurisdiction, the extent of the involvement of civil law in their decisions, and the extent of the integration of religious law in the decisions of the civil legal system, and presumably also the influence of civil courts on religious law itself. As we show, this situation, static at its foundations and dynamic on its surface, is still debated within Israeli society.

In: Religious Minorities in Pluralist Societies
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The aim of this contribution is to reflect on the regulatory arrangements and practices of the Greek state in the case of its historically present Muslim minority with emphasis on the area of family law. Basing itself on a legal pluralist framework, as a frame for the management of religious difference, the chapter introduces the distinct (within Europe) case of the Greek pluralist legal system, explaining both the past and present backgrounds of the prevailing arrangements. The analysis uses the recent European Court of Human Rights Molla Sali v Greece case in a double role: first, to outline in a socio-legal sense the type of legally plural arrangements prevailing in the case at hand; and second, to explore the European Court of Human Rights’ position vis-à-vis legal pluralism and sharia law in Europe. The final part of the discussion evaluates the legal approach of the Greek state in dealing with religious plurality and transposes it to the broader critical frame of a relevant paradigm for diversity management.

Open Access
In: Religious Minorities in Pluralist Societies
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Abstract

Religious diversity in many European societies is a reality and the need for this to be managed and maintained is a challenge. In the context of Greece, recent legal developments balance the application of the Civil Code and Islamic religious (Sharia) law. Quite recently, this has been the core issue brought before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. More specifically, the Molla Sali case raises questions on the nexus between the rights of members of the Muslim minority of Thrace as a historical minority and, in general, of the minority and the human rights framework. Besides, religious diversity’ equation includes the migrant and refugee communities, as new minorities. Could the ECtHR set religious diversity standards in the European human rights context?

In: Religious Minorities in Pluralist Societies

Abstract

This chapter examines the role of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) as an agent directly contributing to the implementation of Russia’s migration policies. It analyzes the ROC’s role in Russian society and depicts its interaction with the state. This chapter also analyzes specific elements of Russia’s legal framework addressing the linguistic and cultural dimensions of the country’s migration policies. This analysis reveals the main ideological postulates of the Russian Orthodox Church, its interaction with the state bodies, and its own agendas towards migrants, including some good practices which also illuminate the existing gaps in migrant accommodation policies in Russia. The chapter concludes that the ROC’s involvement in Russia’s migration policies is quite limited and focused on the promotion of the church’s own agendas. Moreover, the ROC’s strategy towards migrants promotes personal modesty and cultural assimilation, which is consistent with the ROC’s ideology of Russian civilizational nationalism which brings together ethnocultural and religious aspects.

In: Religious Minorities in Pluralist Societies

Abstract

In the last few decades, immigration and globalization have seen the rise of transnational cultural exchanges across Italy. This influx of new people and cultures has enabled Italians to gain access to other doctrines outside of their own traditional confessions. This has had an important effect on the State’s religious landscape, bringing about a transition from a weak pluralism to a more diverse religious identity. Italy’s new pluralistic religious identity is considerably less intense than the pluralistic societies of other European countries, such as France and the United Kingdom. Italy’s current religious identity, however, is much more diversified compared to the State’s experience nearly three decades ago. This article will focus the attention on two very basic questions: firstly, how has Italy’s legal system reacted to this new religious pluralism? Secondly, is the Italian system of Churches-State relationships effective and able to govern this new situation? The relevancy of these questions becomes more distinct when related to the agreements between the public institutions and religious groups, established in Italy’s 1948 Constitution and referenced in Articles 7 and 8. Both of these provisions established the bilateralism principle, resulting from the bilateral Churches-State relations. In the light of Italy’s new pluralism, this method is currently outdated. In particular, this method proves to be challenging not only for some minority religious and non-religious groups, as is the case of Islam(s) and militant atheisms but also problematic for the Catholic Church. An example of this can be seen in the recent judicial rulings concerning the 1984 Agreement between the Catholic Holy See and the State, which modified the 1929 Lateran Pacts.

In other words, the bilateralism principle can be perfectly used when referring to traditional Judeo-Christian denominations. On the contrary, it can hardly be considered for other minority groups, other than the traditional ones. Moreover, the bilateralism principle does not fit in easily with current Italian society that, due to immigration and globalization, is no a longer monocultural society.

In: Religious Minorities in Pluralist Societies