Human Rights and Democracy
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