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Human Rights and Democracy

Mission Statement

Human rights are one of the most fundamental elements of modern democratic constitutions. Democracy and human rights are increasingly considered to be cornerstones of valid policies of global governance. Each of these concepts is multifaceted with regard to the content and the form, and the relationship between them is complex.

The question arises as to whether (and if so, to what extent) democracy is a prerequisite for the interpretation and forcible implementation of human rights. Do we need the concept of democracy for spelling out the meaning of human rights? Is a democratic process necessary for establishment and legal enforcement of human rights? On the other hand, it does not seem possible for a democracy to exist without human rights – the absence of civil liberties and political rights means that a system of political participation among equals is virtually inconceivable. If this is the case, the question that arises is whether human rights, if they are placed above the political process, do not impose stifling restrictions on the democratic process.

Lately, human rights have also been subject to criticism. An objection is often made that human rights, especially when considered in conjunction with democracy, are a particular western institution. Are the values of human rights and democracy actually employed by Western nations when their own interests are at stake? Further criticism is directed at the claim to the universality of human rights. It is argued that culturally-specific rationale ought to be used for norms and values that makes either partial or no reference to human rights and democracy.

These issues along with others represent analytical and normative challenges to all disciplines involved at the GGS. Its basis in specific disciplinary and methodological approaches raises the profile of the discourse taking place between and across disciplines both from a thematic and methodological perspective. The subject is particularly suitable for discussions about problems relating to the intercultural legitimation of human rights and democracy, international human rights policies, the creation of governance structures in a multi-level system, an intercultural constitution, and the legal and political implementation of human rights. Last but not least, the subject provides rich material for the field of comparative political and jurisprudential research

See the list of members here.



Current Events



September 25, 2023 | 2-5 pm | tab Frankfurt


"What is Left of Universalism?"

Prof. Amos Nascimento (University of Washington, Seattle)

Prof. Andreas Niederberger (University Duisburg-Essen)



Prof. Felmon Davis (Union College Schenectady, NY)

Prof. Regina Kreide (JLU Giessen)

Hannes Kaufmann (JLU Giessen)



Preparatory readings and further details upon registration with Hannes Kaufmann (

Lecture and Discussion

July 26, 2023 | 6-8 pm | online

Antje Buchholz und Jürgen Patzak-Poor (BARarchitekten, Berlin)
"Housing beyond the market"
Registration with Hannes Kaufmann (

Lectures and Discussion

July 12, 2023 | 5-7 pm | Zeughaus S3 (Senckenbergs. 3)/ online

Anna-Sophie Schönfelder (JLU): "Capitalism - catalyst of equality or basis for inequality?"

Botao Wang (JLU): "Human dignity in an interpersonal relationship: critique of reciprocity in the Confucian natural law"



June 14, 2023 | Senatssaal, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen Main Building (Ludwigstrasse 23)

Gargi Bhattacharyya

"Utilising the Concept of Racial Capitalism for Understanding the Central Violences of our Time."

in cooperation with the Sonderforschungsbereich 138 "Dynamics of Security".


For further information see the Website.


International Conference

June 12-13, 2023 | Aula, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen Main Building (Ludwigstrasse 23)

"Democracy in Uncertain Times"

in cooperation with the Sonderforschungsbereich 138 "Dynamics of Security".


Further information, full program and registration at the Conference-Website.

Lecture and Discussion (online only)

May 10, 2023 | 5-7 pm | online

Eva von Redecker (Verona)

"Mimesis, projection, and possessive Authoritarianism after Adorno"
Participation (online) is open for everyone interested! For registration and preparatory readings please write to

Lecture and Discussion

April 26, 2023 | 5-7 pm | Zeughaus S3/online

Ayelet Banai (Haifa)

"The right to exclude and the duty to include: self-determination, equal opportunity and immigration"
Participation (on-site or online) is open for everyone interested! For registration and preparatory readings please write to

Semester Overview Summer Term 2023