Universal human rights suffer from a lack of consensus on the question: what kind of internal state organisation can actually take these fundamental rights adequately into account? The main intent of this article is to present a critical assessment of various modes of state–religion affiliation and their effects on the state’s scope for human rights compliance. A special focus will be on the right to freedom of religion or belief since this fundamental right is within this context most profoundly at stake. It will be contended that states which are organised in accordance with the principle of state neutrality can in principle fully comply with human rights norms; while states which identify themselves either positively with a single religious denomination or excessively negatively with religion have to be considered poorly equipped for both democratisation as well as optimal human rights compliance. The crucial issue of ‘multivocality’ of religions will be addressed as a contribution to the reform debate. Ultimately a case will be made for ‘the right to neutral governance’.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Democracy, State-Religion Relationship, the Right to Neutrality, the Right to Freedom of Religion
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.22096/HR.2018.32232, hdl.handle.net/1765/113311
Journal Human Rights
Temperman, J.D. (2018). The Right to Neutral Governance, Religion, the State & the Question of Human Rights Compliance. Human Rights, 24, 17–38. doi:10.22096/HR.2018.32232