4. Buddhist Law as International Law

Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority - A Tribute to the Work of Michael Jerryson - Margo Kitts

Ben Schonthal [+-]
University of Otago
Ben Schonthal is Associate Professor of Buddhism and Asian Religions at the University of Otago in New Zealand.


In this chapter, I examine connections between Buddhist law and international law not from a theoretical or philosophical perspective (as tends to be the case in scholarship) but from an empirical perspective. In particular, I look closely at the story of a single Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka whose domestic arguments about Buddhist law ended up forming the groundwork for a United Nations’ Resolution relating to the status of religious symbols. Drawing on legal archives from Sri Lanka and the UN as well as other monastic legal texts, I hope to illustrate how and why Buddhist monks in the contemporary world might work as agents of international law, even unwittingly. I also hope to add a consideration of processes, persons and institutions into a discussion of Buddhism and international law that has, to date, been largely abstract, disembodied and speculative.

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Schonthal, Ben. 4. Buddhist Law as International Law. Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority - A Tribute to the Work of Michael Jerryson. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2021. ISBN 9780000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40724. Date accessed: 07 Aug 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40724. Sep 2021

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