Democratization and the Protection of Human Rights: Challenges and Contradictions

Democratization and the Protection of Human Rights: Challenges and Contradictions

Democratization and the Protection of Human Rights: Challenges and Contradictions

Democratization and the Protection of Human Rights: Challenges and Contradictions

Synopsis

Are the global trends toward democratization and neoliberal economic development also providing enhanced protection for human rights? In this edited collection of theoretical essays and case studies, the contributors assess the often glaring contradiction between democratization trends in developing countries in the face of continuing human rights violations.

Excerpt

Democracy as a concept has been used and abused in so many different contexts that I have been reluctant to deal with it directly in my own previous scholarly work. I have preferred instead to deal with the elements of this polity. Human rights, democratic movements, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are the handmaidens of democracy, and enable its constitutional forms and structures to function. The concept of democracy must also contain economic and social significance as well as liberal political forms, and these in turn differ within the area studies context. Considerations such as these will become even more important in the next century.

Some of my former students, who have gone on to pursue their own work and teaching, have put together this book on the topic of democracy and human rights. They have honored me with a request to write this foreword. I have taken this opportunity to reflect more directly on the relationship between the democratic polity and human rights. It has always seemed to me that the growth of a human rights-based civil society must come first before democracy can emerge. But perhaps the contributors to this volume and other scholars are right in assuming that an interrelationship exists in which democratic forms protect the growth of human rights. Therefore, it is important that we study this global interrelationship.

The essays in this volume analyze the status of human rights from the standpoint of the effect that democracy has upon the phenomenon of human rights. The question of which comes first, human rights or democracy, is rather like the debate over evolution, that is, whether the change in the environment or the shift in DNA causes natural selection. There is an interrelationship here that . . .

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