Article Title

The under-theorisation of religious freedom in Polynesia – Two case studies


Most of the Pacific Island nations have constitutions that draw their understanding from international human rights instruments, including the religious liberty provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966. This article examines aspirational religious liberty in Tuvalu and Samoa against customary expectation and practice. While violence premised in religious difference is rare, the toleration of minority belief and practice in accordance with the UN standards does not come naturally in any country, especially when culture and custom dictate majoritarian outcomes. As Martha Nussbaum has suggested in relation to religious liberty in the United States, the foundations and justifications of freedom of conscience and religion need to be relearned in each new generation if they are to protect minorities as envisaged by the framers of the UN instruments after World War II.


religious freedom, religious liberty, Pacific Island nations, Tuvalu, Samoa

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