Towards Enriching Understandings and Assessments of Freedom of Religion or Belief: Politics, Debates, Methodologies, and Practices

Author: Katherine Marshall

January 22, 2021

In this working paper, published by the Institute of Development Studies, Senior Fellow Katherine Marshall reviews the complex landscape of approaches to assessing and measuring both the status of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and the degree to which this human right is being violated or protected. The paper introduces and describes various transnational methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, which focus, in differing ways, on violations. Several are widely cited and have express policy applications, while others have more indirect application to FoRB. The analysis highlights the diversity of approaches, which both reflect and contribute to a tendency to politicize FoRB issues. Challenges include differing understandings of the nature and relative significance of violations and their comparability. Country analysis is crucial because the specific context has vital importance for a granular appreciation for causes and impact of FoRB violations.

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