ND Law to hold third annual Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in London

Author: Arienne Calingo


The Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative will host the third annual Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit from July 11-13 in London. The summit is an annual gathering of the world’s leading defenders of religious freedom. 

The theme this year is “Protecting Religious Liberty in a Rapidly Evolving Society.” Much like the city of London, this year’s theme marries the old and the new, the traditional and the forward-looking. Embracing this theme, the summit promises to address a wide variety of pressing issues related to freedom of religion or belief, from both an ecumenical perspective and within an academic paradigm.

“London is an international capital for many faith groups and a global forum for discussions about human rights,” said Notre Dame Law School Dean G. Marcus Cole, the founder of the Religious Liberty Initiative. “The city is an ideal location to gather for the 2023 Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit focused on protecting religious liberty in a rapidly evolving society.”

Notre Dame Law Professor Stephanie Barclay, director of the Religious Liberty Initiative, said, "This year we are excited to partner with the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion to publish the remarks of many academics at the summit as part of a special symposium issue. We're looking forward to increasing the reach of thoughtful contributions that will be made on the issue of freedom of religion or belief."

Through panel discussions, keynote speeches, and cultural experiences, the Religious Liberty Summit stimulates engaging conversations between scholars, advocates, and religious leaders about the future of religious liberty in the United States and around the world.

Over the three days of the summit, more than 60 speakers will participate in 14 panel discussions on topics such as religious liberty and international tribunals, religious responses to the rise of autocracy, and the rise of persecution against religious minorities.

The programming on July 12 will include a keynote address by Nazila Ghanea, a professor of international human rights law at the University of Oxford and special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief with the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Fiona Bruce, the UK prime minister's special envoy for freedom of religion or belief, will also give a keynote address on July 12.

The summit's culminating event will be a gala and awards presentation on July 13. Each year, one individual is honored with the Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty at the gala.

The 2023 Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty will be presented to Lord David Alton, a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, in recognition of his outstanding service preserving religious liberty around the world. For more than four decades, Alton has used his long and prolific career in Parliament to call attention to international threats to religious freedom as well as human rights abuses and genocidal atrocities against vulnerable populations.

Also at the gala, the Religious Liberty Initiative will present its 2023 Religious Liberty Scholarship Award to school choice champion Jack Coons, a professor emeritus of law at the University of California, Berkeley. His recently published book, The Case for Parental Choice: God, Family, and Educational Liberty, makes a compelling case for parental school choice and contains a collection of essays edited by University of Notre Dame faculty Nicole Stelle Garnett, Richard W. Garnett, and Ernest Morrell.

The Religious Liberty Initiative has leveraged the University of Notre Dame’s global network to hold the Religious Liberty Summit in a different city each year. The inaugural summit in 2021 was held on Notre Dame’s main campus, and last year’s summit was held in Rome.

Notre Dame Law School has a long history and strong presence in London. The Notre Dame London Law Programme, established in 1968, is the oldest study-abroad program offered by an American law school and the only yearlong overseas program approved by the American Bar Association.

“In addition to bringing faith leaders and advocates together from around the world, we want to bring them to Notre Dame,” Dean Cole said. “Bringing people to Notre Dame means exposing the world to our global footprint as a university. There is no other university that has a presence all around the world the way the University of Notre Dame does.”

More information about the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit can be found at religiousliberty.nd.edu/summit2023.

About the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative

Established in 2020, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative promotes and defends religious freedom for all people through advocacy, formation, and thought leadership. The initiative protects the freedom of individuals to hold religious beliefs as well as their right to exercise and express those beliefs and to live according to them.

The Religious Liberty Initiative has represented individuals and organizations from an array of faith traditions to defend the right to religious worship, to preserve sacred lands from destruction, to promote the freedom to select religious ministers, and to prevent discrimination against religious schools and families.

Learn more about the Religious Liberty Initiative at religiousliberty.nd.edu.

Originally published by Arienne Calingo at religiousliberty.nd.edu on May 24, 2023.