Ghent 27 October 2015: conference on ‘legal pluralism and human rights within family disputes in Europe’

Dear colleagues,


We are pleased to invite you to the international conference on ‘legal pluralism and human rights within family disputes in Europe’ organized by the Human Rights Centre, Ghent University, in collaboration with the Centre d’histoire du droit et d’anthropologie juridique, Université Libre de Bruxelles. The conference will take place in Ghent, Belgium, on 27 October 2015.


This international conference wants to enhance our empirical knowledge about the dispute handling practices of religious minorities and groups with a migrant background in the field of family law in Europe. The conference will pay particular attention to understanding the dynamics of unofficial forms of legal pluralism that find expression in the mobilization of non-state normative orders within state forums, as well as in recourse to non-state mechanisms for handling disputes. On this basis, it will explore the normative implications of these insights in terms of access to justice and human rights. The conference objectives are twofold. At the theoretical level, it aims at expanding our understanding of the relationship between legal pluralism and human rights in the European context, while considering the relevance of legally plural approaches to human rights access in settings in which, in principle, state justice institutions are dominant. In addition, it serves as a bridge between theory and practice by reflecting on how policy makers at different levels can and should take account of these realities.


We especially welcome papers looking at:

  • How family law related legal practices involving reference to non-state normative orders, including Islamic law, are developing within religious minorities and migrant families in Europe and how these interact with, are mobilized in and are treated by state justice;
  • How different pathways to (state and non-state) justice involve constraining and / or facilitating factors and potentialities for legal empowerment and access to human rights; and how ‘interim’ and ‘hybrid’ approaches to furthering rights, interests and aspirations can be developed in the context of multicultural Europe, as opposed to more technical approaches that seek to make plural legal orders compatible with an ‘ideal’ human rights order;
  • What normative implications insights concerning legal pluralism in Europe entail, especially in terms of children and women’s rights and possibilities to accommodate certain of these minority practices in the secular context of European countries.


Please find attached the call for papers. Proposals should reach us by 30 April 2015.

For more information about the conference you can contact Kim Lecoyer (

Please feel free to circulate this email to your interested peers and within your professional networks.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Best regards,



Kim Lecoyer

Ph.D. Researcher

Human Rights Centre
Faculty of Law

Ghent University

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