Anthropology and EU law meet together online!

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

EJTN partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology webinar
Cultural Diversity in the courtroom – Judges in Europe facing new challenges

This webinar successfully created a platform to address cultural (including religious) diversity and the challenges it poses to judicial institutions (prosecutors as well as judges) throughout Europe today. Guided by a team consisting of experienced judges and an Max Planck Institute academics with the relevant sociocultural expertise, participants have a fruitful discussion in the 4 webinar working groups on the topics:

  • Labour law - accommodation of religion at the workplace
  • Family law - (in)direct effects of polygamous marriages, best interest of the child
  • Criminal law - cultural defense
  • Asylum law - traditional belief systems in asylum claims

The question of accommodation of religious and cultural diversity is an integral part of the new reality of judicial practice in each Member State of the European Union, and the EJTN is the only network that undertakes organizing training for judges across Europe. Therefore, this training offers a unique opportunity to conduct comparative legal exercises and to engage in discussions among judges from different EU countries on delicate questions they increasingly face in their daily practice.

The learning objectives of this workshop are an increased awareness of and sensitivity to cultural diversity, and a comparative exploration of how this can be incorporated into judgments, leading to better legal outcomes. Participants learned how to access relevant sources of information and expertise on issues of cultural diversity and gain familiarity with a range of techniques that facilitate reflection on cultural diversity and how it can be incorporated into individual decision-making processes. The training complements existing trainings on ‘law in context’ on a national level by providing practical exercises on how to grasp diverse lived realities and normative worldviews in increasingly plural societies. In addition, participants have the unique opportunity to directly engage with academics and to learn about the current state of social science research about law and diversity.

The event was opened for the third time by EJTN Human Rights Project Manager and Ms. Marie-Claire Foblets, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. The scientific coordinator for the webinar was Ms. Larissa Vetters from the Max Planck Institute while the entire event was moderated by Ms. Katharina Steininger, Activity Coordinator and member of the EJTN sub-working group Human and Fundamental Rights.The event quickly adapted to the online surroundings and confirmed the great partnership among EJTN and Max Planck Institute. Together we plan to issue a Casebook in Cultural Diversity in 2021 that will be easily accessible to all the EU judges and prosecutors in covering the cases in cultural diversity.