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Professor Fournier invited by the Lauterpacht Center at Cambridge University!

On March 6, 2018, as part of a visit to England where Professor Fournier will have the opportunity to present at Oxford University and meet several colleagues regarding her recent SSHRC project, she will give a lecture at the Lauterpacht Center for International Law, as part of a series of lectures organized by the Center. Her presentation, entitled “Comparative Law, Religion, and Gender: Voices from the Field “, will focus on some of her main topics of expertise, namely the role of comparative law in an international context. This presentation seeks to better explain the dynamics that exist between the various normative orders—for example, between the civil and religious orders—and the impact that they have on the life and agency of religious women evolving to adapt to new social and legal realities. With this in mind, Professor Fournier will present the results of her research on religious women in Canada, Germany, France, the UK, Lebanon and Israel. It is through the experiences of these women that Professor Fournier observes a striking contrast between formal religious law and a society that struggles to meet the standards of said religious laws due to an evolution of liberalism. The Marcovitz case is a good example of this because the Supreme Court of Canada has refused in this decision to conceive the religious aspect of the obligation of get (Jewish religious divorce) as a barrier to its civil validity in order to implement wholly secular remedies (damages) to the agunah problem (or “chained woman”). Thus, strict and harsh rules can be circumvented according to the context of interpretation and community that interprets it, while other norms remain or become extremely rigid, which affects the fundamental rights of women.

In the same vein, Professor Fournier will also discuss the application of foreign religious law in national jurisdictions in light of private international law provisions. In this era of globalization and mobility of populations, the migration of religious groups and their laws to the West brings out tensions. For example, in France as in Germany, courts apply the law of citizenship of the parties (or lex patriae) in matters of a family dispute. Therefore, significant legal repercussions are expected for immigrant communities who have chosen to leave their home countries to avoid being judged against conservative laws of their distinctive religious family law. In Canada, although newcomers and immigrants enjoy the same legal rights as Canadian citizens through the law of domicile (or lex domicilii) in matters of personal status, Canadian courts regularly interpret and enforce religious norms that are part of domestic contracts. This situation is all the more critical since data is lacking in providing a clear picture of the role of religious law on divorced women and its consequences on Canadian public order. In a world where the national judge is often called to be an international judge, it is essential, according to Professor Fournier, to delve deeper into the subject of religious law and to examine the impact that it may have on its legal subjects in order to better guide courts.

Cambrige University

The Lauterpacht Center for International Law is associated with the Faculty of Law of Cambridge University. Its mission is to provide both a theoretical framework and a forum for critical and constructive reflection on the function and application of laws in the international community. Internationally recognized, the Lauterpacht Center promotes the development of international law research through interdisciplinary scientific analysis and academic publications.

The conference will be held at the Lauterpacht Center on March 6th 2018 at 12 pm.