British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square,
London, WC1B 5JP

This event examines the controversies over and implications of the 2010 French ban on the covering of the face. It carries out an internal critique of the new law and, in a broader European context, questions its compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights. It argues that the ban has strayed away from the confines of laïcité (the separation of State and religion in the public sphere) by encompassing activities and people who in no way emanate from the State. Far from being a flagship of a secularism – à la française – or a French way of life, the ban – it is argued – goes against entrenched French legal traditions and unduly conflates the concept of national identity at the cost of individual liberties, thus forgetting the true goal of secularism: the conciliation of different beliefs and values. Assuming that the defence of secularism is nevertheless (for reasons we will explore) upheld by the European Court of Human Rights as a legitimate aim pursued by the law, the French ban it is argued is likely to fall foul of European requirements for lack of proportionality.

Welcome: Professor Malcolm Evans OBE, General Editor of the ICLQ, Professor of International Law, Bristol University

Speaker: Myriam Hunter-Henin, Senior Lecturer in Law, University College London
Hunter-Henin’s article will be free of charge for one month from the day of the lecture.