Human Rights, Democracy and Federalism – Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution? Securing Stability in the European Union and the People’s Republic of China
Current Politics and Economics of Asia, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 211-236, 2008
26 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2008
Federations and human rights have a long, ambivalent and contested relationship. The paper addresses one of these concerns: whether human rights-respecting federal arrangements are sufficiently robust against claims to secession. Some fear that federal elements and human rights combine to fuel destabilizing forces. Comparative forces suggests that some of these risks are real, though difficult to estimate. I argue that several elements of democratic and human rights can limit these dangers, and rather enhance the long-terms stability of federal arrangements. In particular, the contributions of human rights and political parties to the governance of sub-units and the centre merits close attention. The article has seven parts. It first presents some features of federalism and the challenge of stability. Sections 3 and 4 sketch conceptions of democracy and human rights. Sections 5 and 6 discuss how human rights may both fuel and defuse calls for secession. The concluding section brings these results to bear on attempts at alleviating the ‘democratic deficit’ of the European Union, and to the People's Republic of China.
Keywords: human rights, federalism, democracy, democratic deficit, European Union, People's Republic of China
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