Human Rights and Global Democracy

By Goodhart, Michael | Ethics & International Affairs, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Human Rights and Global Democracy


Goodhart, Michael, Ethics & International Affairs


Over the past dozen years or so democratic theorists and activists have become increasingly worried about globalization's adverse effects on democracy. Their concerns include: (1) democratic deficits, or the lack of democratic control over existing intergovernmental and supranational governance structures such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the European Union (EU); (2) democratic disjunctures, or the disparities in scope between such global political problems as climate change, economic development, and international terrorism, on the one hand, and instantiations of democratic authority in existing, state-level political institutions, on the other; and (3) democratic asymmetries, or the widening inequalities among states whereby the wealthiest and most powerful dominate international interactions.

In response, democratic theorists have advanced various proposals for global democracy, including cosmopolitan and discursive (or global civil society-based) schemes. Such proposals presume whether explicitly or implicitly--that human rights form part of the basic political infrastructure of global democratic governance. (1) They thus leave the relationship between human rights and global democracy undertheorized, with two related negative results: first, there has been little discussion of the theoretical and practical role of human rights in global democracy; second, this inattention has left important questions about the compatibility of democracy and human rights neglected or unnoticed. Meanwhile, numerous critics have questioned the compatibility of the core democratic principle of majoritarian rule and human rights at the national level, citing fears of "illiberal democracy" (3); and scholars from very different ideological and theoretical perspectives have expressed worries about the democratic accountability of supranational human rights regimes--notably, the potential for such regimes to undermine democracy within the state, or to become sources of domination themselves. Further, many scholars and practitioners harbor doubts about the potential effectiveness of supranational human rights mechanisms. Yet all these critiques remain strangely isolated from the debates on global democracy--which are, nonetheless, predicated in part on the assumption that no significant tensions between democracy and human rights obtain.

This article addresses these concerns, arguing that human rights are a necessary condition for global democracy. It aims to clarify the conceptual role of human rights in global democracy and democratization, to work out some institutional implications of this role, and to answer concerns about the democratic legitimacy and potential effectiveness of a supranational human rights regime. The article has five sections. The first briefly examines the main democratic responses to globalization, highlighting how various proposals for global democracy leave the role of human rights undertheorized. The second section presents the conceptual core of the argument. Working with a broad, normative understanding of democracy as a political commitment to freedom and equality for everyone, I show how this commitment can be conceptualized in terms of human rights. I then develop three conjectures about the necessity of human rights to global democracy and democratization: that they provide democratic constraints on power, enable meaningful supranational political participation, and promote state-level democracy and democratization. The third section addresses important institutional implications of this argument, outlining the core functions that a supranational human rights regime designed to promote and support global democracy would have to perform, and contrasting them with existing arrangements. The fourth section refutes in principle objections to the effectiveness of human rights institutions, and the final section answers concerns about the democratic legitimacy of a supranational human rights regime. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Human Rights and Global Democracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.