Religion and Human Rights in Present-Day Serbia

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:27
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Biljana RIBIC, Belgrade University, Serbia
Role of religion and church became more significant in the world, especially in transitional societies, such as post communist ones. Long-term crisis, breakdown of value system, resistance to transition and reforms, as well as wars and massive war crimes opened space for action of the forces that are resistant to changes. This subject could be observed from two sides: first, such as matters of right for free expression and practice of religion as one of the basic human rights, and second, as a relation between church and human rights.

In Serbia, human rights are in the process of gaining new meaning in society. This transformation is a long and slow-moving process and expressions of intolerance in the form of violent attacks against minority religious communities are still quite often. An encouraging development is that representatives of various religious communities have been conducting a dialogue in recent years, striving to achieve reconciliation and a higher level of cooperation. This includes conferences and religious services organized and conducted by representatives of different religious groups.

When looking at developments in the area of church-state affairs in recent years we can notice that several positive steps have been taken. These include the bringing of new legislation and attempts at harmonizing national law with international standards, the increase of legal guarantee of general human rights protection and a stronger and wider inter-religious dialogue. Negative phenomenon includes a low level of religious tolerance in society, the postponement of resolving outstanding legal questions, the preferential treatment of the Serbian Orthodox Church by the state, very often at the expense of the other religious communities and the general discrepancies between the written letter of the law and its implementation in everyday life.