Human Rights and Democracy: Is There a Place for Actual People(s)?

Friedrich Kratochwil

in From Bilateralism to Community Interest

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588817
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725272 | DOI:
Human Rights and Democracy: Is There a Place for Actual People(s)?

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This chapter provides some critical reflections on law and politics in the era of globalization. The argument is presented in three steps. First, the chapter develops a conception of politics that is independent of the State and its institutions. Secondly, it inquires into the possibilities of democratic participation in a globalizing world. Here the criterion that ‘what concerns all has to be decided by all’ will serve as foil. This then provides the background for the discussion which takes up the issue of legitimization by relying on the universal value of human dignity as the main source, after the concrete people(s) have largely disappeared from the discourse together with the State and its autonomy. It is argued that this reliance on the ‘universality’ of human dignity as the key value, cleansed from all political and historical contingencies, encourages imperialism and the rule by experts or ‘professionals’, both of which have deleterious effects on law and democratic politics.

Keywords: law; democratic politics; globalization; human dignity; imperialism

Chapter.  8214 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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