News Release

South Pacific Delegates Speak at BYU International Law and Religion Symposium

Delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa are meeting with judges, lawyers, elected officials, policy advisers, scholars and other experts from across the world this week at this year’s International Law and Religion Symposium.


Speakers at the conference—which opened on Sunday evening (2 October) at the J. Reuben Clark Law School on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah—are addressing the subject, “Religious rights in a pluralistic world.”

Sir Gibbs Salika told symposium attendees that “liberty, prosperity and freedom from oppression should be basic rights for all.”

He said that rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) should be reflected in national constitutions and laws.

Samoan delegate, Theresa Potoi, said, “Religious freedom must be preserved at all costs, but there needs to be synergy between the Constitution and the law, in conjunction with the laws of the local village.”

Hon Chester Borrows spoke about the intersection of religious beliefs and practice, and law, in the New Zealand context.

"We get our knowledge from books or the internet but nothing passes the actual experience of being in a situation," he said. 

"We need to understand fully the faith of others before we can make comment and if we are to live in society with others expressing faith we have a duty to do this."

Australian senior counsel and law professor, Neville Rochow, led a session for delegates from the Commonweath of Nations.

In Jeremy Stuparich’s remarks, he said, “It is the nature of pluralist societies that there will be differences of opinion and the challenge is always how to accommodate different beliefs.”

Kieran Walton concluded his presentation by saying: “As we continue to discuss the challenges to our freedoms we need to redouble our efforts to defend them. We need to continue to urge people to exercise free speech.”

Joshua Neoh, an Australian academic currently living in the United Kingdom, also spoke at the conference.

Read more about this year's International Law and Religion Symposium here.

Watch a short video featuring delegates who attended an earlier symposium sharing their insights about the conference:


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