The Institute for Global Engagement’s May Faith & International Affairs Conference Call, highlighted the Spring 2015 issue of IGE’s journal, The Review of Faith & International Affairs “Public Order and Public Morality: Uses and Abuses of the Legal Limits on Free Speech and Religious Liberty”. The call featured Asma Uddin, Counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where she works on international and domestic religious freedom matters.
In human rights declarations and law, both at the national and international level, the human rights to free speech and religious freedom are usually granted strong—but not absolute protection. Exceptions to the protections are allowed on grounds of preserving essential “public order” (ordre public) and “public morality.” Today these exceptions are being interpreted in sharply divergent ways in different parts of the world. Increasingly they are invoked as rationalizations for severe limitations on these critically important liberties. The call examined the theoretical foundations and the contemporary uses and abuses of the “public order” and “public morality” exceptions to free speech and religious liberty.