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Book: Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority

Chapter: 3. Buddhists and International Law

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40724


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.

Chapter Contributors

  • Ben Schonthal ( - bschonthal) 'University of Otago'