Nelson Institute Director to Address International Legislators

November 21, 2005

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, will address legislators from around the world during the 2005 meeting of Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom which will convene in Washington, D.C., from November 28 through December 1, 2005.

Pham’s address on “Religion’s Role in Conflict Resolution: Religion and Government Cooperatively Building Peace” will be delivered during the opening plenary session on November 28.

The Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom is composed of members of national and supranational parliaments from around the globe. The organization allows members of parliaments to meet and address the issues of human rights and freedom of conscience with common understanding and background as legislators. The Conference and its members examine, monitor, and act in coordination as a body and in their respective parliaments to address either human rights/freedom of conscience situations in specific countries or territories or on major phenomena of human rights/freedom of conscience violations worldwide in thematic processes.

Over 180 legislators from over three dozen African, Asian, American, and European countries are expected to attend this year’s conference. The themes of the meeting will include the role of religion in conflicts; educating children to be global actors; religion, law, and terrorism; and international poverty and development.

“I am both honored and excited by the opportunity to help start the deliberations of this eminent group,” said Pham, who noted that the topic proposed to him by the Secretariat of the Interparliamentary Conference would enable him to bridge two of his major areas of interest, the role of religion on the global stage and African politics. “Drawing upon the diplomatic experience and academic research in the West African as well as my more recent field work in the Horn of Africa, I plan to review some of the relatively successful conflict resolution efforts of local religious leaders as well as analyze some of the shortcomings of their approaches. I will also look at the three principal tasks that these efforts face: peace-building, national (and, in some cases, supranational) reconciliation, and strengthening a stable democratic polity.”

Pham is the author of numerous articles as well as two books on the West African conflicts, “ Liberia: Portrait of a Failed State” (Reed Press, 2004) and “Child Soldiers, Adult Interests: Global Dimensions of the Sierra Leonean Tragedy” (Nova Science Publishers, 2005). He is also the author of “Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession” (Oxford University Press, 2004), a study of the history and politics of papal transitions that garnered international attention following the death of Pope John Paul II earlier this year.