Human Rights

Human rights are a global discourse aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity and autonomy of all people, and promoting inclusion, justice and equality across all societies and peoples. The relationship between human rights and religious philosophy, faith and practice is however highly contested, and many world religions have questioned the validity of human rights when they come into conflict with traditional religious values. At the same time, the religious foundations of human rights and its practices are broad and varied and there is now a wealth of multi-faceted contemporary scholarship on religious and faith-based approaches to human rights philosophy and activism.

The Centre for Applied Buddhism promotes discussion and scholarship on a wide range of human rights and Buddhist related topics including (but not limited to):

  • The place or absence thereof, of human rights concepts within historical and contemporary Buddhist texts and writings;
  • The contribution of Buddhist concepts such as compassion (mettā), non-duality (śūnyatā), and sympathetic or empathetic joy (Muditā) to the development of human rights in contemporary societies;
  • Examination of the history and development of human rights activism amongst contemporary Buddhist communities;
  • The relationship between the international human rights regime and international Buddhist organisations;
  • The politics of human rights in countries where Buddhism and political power is closely aligned, or in conflict with, state power; 
  • The ethical contribution of Buddhist philosophy to global issues such as artificial intelligence, technological innovation, and human and environmental genetics.
  • The contribution of Buddhism to understanding health, medicine and promoting well-being.


The Centre also focuses on the relationship between a human rights perspective grounded in Buddhist philosophy and other pressing contemporary issues such as:

  • Human Rights and Buddhist environmentalism
  • Human Rights and Buddhist inspired approaches peace-building and conflict resolution
  • Human Rights, Buddhism and Gender
  • Human Rights, Buddhism and Globalisation, International Relations and Development.

CfAB’s library contains a wide variety of books, articles and texts on the subject of human rights and Buddhism and welcomes suggestions for widening its resources as well as proposals for events on any of the above and associated themes, aimed at both practitioners and scholars of Buddhism and religion.