Human Rights

Human Rights and the Decay of Democracy

Decay of democracy has been the subject of countless manifestations from academics, journalists, civil society representatives and politicians in recent years. At every scheduled election in any relevant democracy, issues such as the increasing numbers of absent voters, the rise — or the prevalence — of ultra-right political parties and the distrust of representative institutions become central topics for the domestic electoral debate. While the linkage between democracy and the advancement of Human Rights remains largely unquestioned, the effects of deteriorating democracies on Human Rights around the globe have not been fully understood.

 

Human Rights are also at the very heart of this phenomenon. The rise in populist and authoritarian regimes has been closely followed, if not fuelled, by rhetoric and policies which question (i) the notion or scope of Human Rights as it’s been developed since the end of the Second World War and (ii) the role and actions of international organisations and NGOs, which have, over the past 75 years, played a vital role in promoting and protecting Human Rights. As such, it is important to understand how the change of domestic political landscape has impacted the work done by international organisations, and by extension, international law itself, as well as to map out strategies undertaken by NGOs and academics to reaffirm the Human Rights discourse and related norms.

 

Grasping the relationship between Human Rights and the decay of democracy is likely to require the understanding of different developments arising from national experiences, the role of Supreme or Constitutional Courts in reaffirming Human Rights, the differences, if any, between developed and developing democracies and if resilient institutions have been capable of preventing degradation in political, social, economic and cultural rights. Still, research questions such as the following remain to be addressed: How can we frame and explain the current debate on democratic decay and human rights from historical, economic or sociological perspective? Are there especially vulnerable rights in this moment of crisis? Is there an interpretative change of rights and freedoms by the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, and international human rights mechanisms in an age of democratic decay? How does the democratic decline affect the interaction of domestic jurisdictions, particularly the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, with the international or regional human rights bodies? What kind of strategies do the NGOs and civic society deploy for protection and promotion of human rights under illiberal populist regimes? What is the role of legislatures for protection of human rights in a democratic retrogression? If a crisis of democracy exists, may it also be understood as a crisis of political representation and political rights? How does it impact the rights of minorities, refugees and vulnerable groups in different countries?

 

For this call for proposals, we welcome works with an interdisciplinary approach (Law, International Relations, Political Science, History, Economics and other) as well as to comparative research which draws on the experiences of multiple countries simultaneously. The selected proposals will be part of a special issue or an edited volume by a collaborative work of the Human Rights research group under LSGL.

Group Publications

Human Rights Group Paper 2014

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Human Rights Group Paper 2015

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Human Rights Group Paper 2016

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Human Rights and the Decay of Democracy

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Group Members

Bertil Emrah
Bertil Emrah Oder
Co-Chair
Bertil Emrah Oder is the Dean and Professor of Constitutional Law at Koç University Law School, received her PhD in both public and private law from University of Cologne (Germany). Dr. Oder’s research focuses on comparative constitutional law, European Union law and international human rights law. She is a full member of the Science Academy and has national and international awards for her scholarly achievements. She has been also selected as Henry Morris Lecturer of International and Comparative Law in 2012 by Chicago-Kent College of Law. She has served as international consultant of UN Women and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and published four books, dozens of articles, editorials and book chapters on various subjects in public law with focus on human rights and judicial review. Fluent in English, German and Turkish, Dr. Oder holds also LLB and MA/LLM degrees from the University of Istanbul and Marmara University (Turkey).
Michael-Freitas-Mohallem
Michael Freitas Mohallem
Co-Chair
Human Rights Law and Legislative Procedure lecturer, head of the research Center for Justice and Society at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) Law School, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Collaborates as researcher for the Public Transparency Program of FGV and serves as Fiscal Board member of the Alziras Institute, Advisory Board of the Brazil Social Observatory (Rio de Janeiro), board of the Public Policies Innovation Lab and member of the Editorial Council of FGV Law School in Rio. PhD in Law candidate and LL.M at the University College London (UCL), Postgraduate Degree in Political Science from the University of Brasília (UnB), LLB from the Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) and graduate from the School of Government of São Paulo. Was a visiting researcher at the European University Institute (EUI), visiting scholar at the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and researcher for the Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts project. Has previously worked as Campaigns Director for Avaaz in Brazil, parliamentary advisor in the Brazilian Senate and legal advisor in the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.
Alejandro
Alejandro Rodiles Bretón
Profesor de tiempo completo

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Adam
Adam Shinar
Dr. Adam Shinar is an assistant professor at the Radzyner Law School in IDC Herzliya. He has an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he also served as the Clark Byse Fellow. He also holds an LL.B. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School. He clerked for the President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, and worked as an attorney for several human rights NGOs in Israel and India. He specializes in constitutional law and theory, administrative law, and labor law.
Tracy Gutuza
Tracy Gutuza
Associate Professor in the Department of Commercial Law
After obtaining her LLB in 1995, Tracy completed her articles and was admitted as an attorney in 1997. Thereafter she worked as a legal advisor and, in 2003 she joined the law faculty as a lecturer. After a short absence from the law faculty and employment at the South African Revenue Service, she rejoined the faculty in March 2015. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Commercial Law and is involved in the teaching of both undergraduate and postgraduate law students, in the areas of tax and finance law. Her research interests are in the areas of business law, tax law, finance law, international tax law and legal education. Her PHD thesis focused on the methods used to relieve international double taxation in South African domestic legislation and tax treaties entered into by South Africa. See more.
Anton Kok
Anton Kok
Prof Anton Kok holds the degrees BCom (Law) LLB LLM LLD (Pret).  After completing his articles of clerkship at Deneys Reitz Inc (now Norton Rose Fulbright), Sandton, Anton was appointed senior lecturer to the Department of Legal History, Comparative Law and Legal Philosophy (now the Department of Jurisprudence) in 1999. He completed his doctorate in March 2008, entitled “A socio-legal analysis of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000”. He was promoted to associate professor in 2010.  He was appointed as the Programme Coordinator for the LLB for 2008 and 2009 and as Deputy Dean of the Faculty in 2010 and as acting dean from January to October 2011.  He was reappointed for a second term as Deputy Dean in 2014. At undergraduate level, Anton has taught Legal Skills, Critical Race and Gender, Introduction to Law, Law and Literature and Human Rights.  He is the coordinator for Essay and Seminar 400.  At postgraduate level he has taught on Discrimination Law in the LLM (Human Rights and Constitutional Practice), LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) and the LLM/MPhil (Multi-disciplinary human rights).His main areas of interest are equality legislation, human rights and legal education.
Victor Torre de Silva
Victor Torre de Silva
Professor of Law at IE Law School
Professor of Law at IE Law School and Legal Adviser in the Council of State (Spain) since 1991, and having served as Undersecretary of Defense for the Spanish government for four years, Víctor Torre de Silva is an expert in administrative law, and is also interested in contracts and property law. He has also served as director in the board of several companies, including the Spanish railways company, the Spanish ports authority and “Construcciones Aeronáuticas, S.A.” (today part of EADS), and has been chief of staff of the Speaker of Spanish Parliament (Congreso de los Diputados). He received the Isabel la Católica Great Cross by royal decree in May 2004. In the course of his career he has had numerous articles and research works published in specialised journals, including Revista de Administración Pública (Spanish public sector journal) and Revista Española de Derecho Administrativo (Spanish administrative law journal). Professor Torre de Silva’s research projects include a thesis undertaken at Harvard on regulatory agencies.
Lior Zemer
Lior Zemer
Visiting Associate Professor at Boston University School of Law
Lior Zemer joined the Radzyner School of Law in 2006. Before his PhD studies and after his LL.B Lior completed two Masters’ degrees. A Master degree at Oxford University (with distinction) and LL.M (magna cum laude) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Dr. Zemer is a Visiting Associate Professor at Boston University School of Law. He previously taught at the faculties of law in Leicester and Birmingham, UK, and Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto. Prior to joining legal academia he served as the assistant lawyer to Judge J.D. Cooke at the European Court of First Instance and Judge S. von Bahr at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Dr. Zemer's research interests include Intellectual property law and policy, jurisprudence, international and European law.