Prof. Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt

Chair in Human Rights and Human Rights Politics | University of Erlangen-Nürnberg

Professor Heiner Bielefeldt is a philosopher with manifold interdisciplinary interests in the theory and practice of human rights. In the context of FAU’s M.A. Human Rights, he lectures on the foundational principles of human rights. He furthermore co-teaches the seminar on non-discrimination and offers seminars on the philosophy of human rights and the right to freedom of religion or belief.

In his publications, Heiner shows a particular interest in freedom of religion or belief and its complicated relationship to other human rights, for example, gender equality. He also deals with emerging issues and conflicts in the intersection of human rights and medical ethics.

Before joining the FAU in 2009 and taking the chair for human rights and human rights politics (located in the institute of political science), Heiner served as Director of the German Institute for Human Rights, i.e. Germany’s officially accredited national human rights institution based in Berlin. He taught in a number of universities, including in Tübingen, Heidelberg, Toronto, Bielefeld and Oslo. From 2010 to 2016, Heiner held the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. In that capacity, he inter alia conducted fact-finding missions in various countries, such as Paraguay, Moldova, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Denmark, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.

Heiner holds an honorary professorship at the law faculty of the University of Bielefeld and an honorary doctorate at the theology faculty of the University of Lucerne. Federal President Steinmeier awarded him the Federal Cross of Merits in appreciation of his commitment within the United Nations.