The Relevance of International Law Standards to Religious Leaders

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter, thus, makes a case for informed, reflexive engagement between legal scholars and practitioners and religious leaders as a step change in enhancing the relevance of international law. Structurally, the chapter is divided in seven sections. Section 13.2. exam- ines how doctrinal, socio-legal methods and constructivist theory can shape the analytical inquiry into international law standards of relevance to religious ac- tors. Section 13.3. delves into empirical, doctrinal and sociological approaches to defining religious leadership, so as to understand the ‘actorhoods’ they em- body, the variety of affiliations they can have with religion, belief or spirituality, and the special legitimacy they claim. Section 13.4. explores the international legal standards applicable to religious leaders and the consequences of the various actorhoods they embody on their enjoyment of rights and obligations. A specific focus will be the legal regime applicable to religious personnel under international humanitarian law (‘IHL’) and the conditions and implications of the loss of this protective status. The accountability avenues available to chal- lenge abuse by religious leaders and increase their positive influence on third parties are examined in Section 13.5. Section 13.6. discusses the interaction between religious leaders, international human rights law (‘IHRL’) and IHL, beyond compliance with or abuse of these standards. The conclusion ties the argu- mentative threads of the chapter together and makes a plea for greater engage- ment between international law scholars and practitioners and religious actors as a norm compliance-generation strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligion, Hateful Expression and Violence
EditorsMorten Bergsmo, Kishan Manocha
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)978-82-8348-142-6
ISBN (Print)978-82- 8348-141-9
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

© Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher (TOAEP), 2023


  • International Law
  • international human rights law
  • international humanitarian law
  • religious actors
  • religious leaders
  • hate speech

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