A Public Conversation on the State of International Religious Freedom

March 30, 2016
Religious Freedom event poster

The Right Honourable Baroness Nicholson of WinterbourneUK Parliament, House of Lords; Katrina Lantos SwettLantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Moderated by Daniel I. Mark ’03 *13US Commission on International Religious Freedom; Assistant Professor of Political Science, Villanova University; 2015-16 Visiting Fellow, James Madison Program, Princeton University.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is a Peer of the Realm, with a lifetime seat in the House of Lords, the Upper Chamber of the UK Parliament, appointed by Her Majesty The Queen in 1997. She served as the Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon in the House of Commons from 1987-97, and was elected to the European Parliament for two five year terms of office in 1999 and 2004 for the South East Region of England. She served as a member of the British Delegation to the Parliament of the Council of Europe from 2009-14 where she was a member of the Monitoring Committee and worked on Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. Her parliamentary responsibilities have focused on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights.  In Brussels she was Deputy President of the Foreign Affairs, Human Rights and Common Defence and Security Policy Committee.  She was a member of the Finance Committee, Agriculture Committee, and the Aid and Development Committee.  She was rapporteur for Iraq, Romania and Kashmir, producing major policy reports for parliament and the Council of Ministers. She formed and chaired the Permanent Standing Inter-parliamentary Committee for Iraq, and was vice chair of the European / Mediterranean parliamentary women's committee.  She monitored and observed parliamentary elections in 32 nations and led two International Election Observation missions to Yemen. In the House of Lords she chairs the Select Committee on Sexual Violence in Conflict and co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Foreign Affairs.  Since January 2014 she has been the Prime Minister's UK Special Envoy for Iraq. She works in a voluntary capacity on humanitarian aid and development and international cultural affairs. She chairs the Booker Prize for Russian Fiction and is Patron of the Caine Prize for African Writing, VP of the Man Booker Prize for English Fiction and is founding a prize for Arabic Poetry. She chairs the AMAR International Charitable Foundation based in Washington, its sister organizations in London, Iraq and Lebanon, and several other charities in the UK and elsewhere. She studied music at the Royal Academy of Music, qualifying as LRAM and ARCM (the Royal College of Music) and then entered computer software development and consultancy in the UK and Africa.  She was born - and she remains - profoundly deaf.

Katrina Lantos Swett currently serves on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). In April of 2012, she was appointed to USCIRF by Senator Harry Reid and was elected to serve as Chair in June of 2012 until June of 2013. She is the President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, a human rights organization which she established in 2008 to carry on the work of her father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos. In addition she has taught Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy at Tufts University, a subject she also taught at the University of Southern Denmark during her husband’s tenure as US Ambassador to Denmark. While living in Copenhagen, she led a successful advocacy effort to convince the Danish government to take action against illicit trafficking of women and children through Denmark.  Her first job after law school was as a Legislative Assistant and later, Deputy Counsel to the Criminal Justice sub-Committee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She currently serves on the Board of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, the International Advisory Board of UN Watch, the Budapest based Tom Lantos Institute, the Hungarian Initiatives Foundation, and the Advisory Board of the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Policy. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in Political Science. She received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and later earned a PhD in history at The University of Southern Denmark.

Daniel I. Mark ’03, *13, 2015-16 Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He teaches political theory, philosophy of law, American government, and politics and religion. At Villanova, he is a faculty associate of the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good. He also holds the rank of Battalion Professor and serves as the university representative to the performance review board for Villanova’s Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit. Appointed by then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner, he also serves on the nine-member, bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has recently participated in USCIRF delegations to Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Vietnam. He has written on religious freedom in Foreign Affairs, US News & World Report, Investor’s Business Daily, and his hometown Philadelphia Inquirer. He has appeared on CNN, Al Jazeera America, CBS Radio, and Relevant Radio. In addition, he is an assistant editor of Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy; a fellow of the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ; and a contributor to Arc of the Universe: Ethics and Global Justice. He also serves on the board of managers of CanaVox. He holds a BA (magna cum laude), MA, and PhD from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. He wrote his dissertation under the direction of Professor Robert P. George on the subject of “Authority and Legal Obligation.”

Video recording is not available for this event. We apologize for any inconvenience.


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Photo Album:

  • Nicholson and Swett on Religious Freedom
  • Nicholson and Swett on Religious Freedom
  • Nicholson and Swett on Religious Freedom