21st Populist Demagogues, ‘Anti-Human Rights Candidates’ and the Electorate: A Critical Analysis of the ‘Fitness for Public Office’ Rule from an International Human Rights Law Perspective.
58 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017
Date Written: May 3, 2017
The 21st century has seen the rise to prominence of populist leaders who do not respect human rights. The rise of such leaders has been explained in terms of current world problems like terrorism, migration, influx of refugees, economic stagnation and cultural backlash. Populists promise to rectify such problems at all cost, making it clear that nothing will stand in their way – even fundamental human rights. They openly and publicly support racial discrimination, torture and other violations of jus cogens norms of human rights. Despicable as they may seem, some of such populist demagogues have the support of the electorate. This paper discusses whether such ‘anti-human rights candidates’ are fit for public office – offices like the office of the president whose duties include protection of human rights. It further addresses the question whether a state that allows an ‘anti-human rights candidate’ to run for public office violates its international obligations. In this paper, the term ‘anti-human rights candidate’ refers to a candidate whose record, conduct or proposed plans or policies once he or she assumes public office are inconsistent with fundamental rights that are guaranteed in the national constitution, human rights treaties that have been ratified by his or her state and human rights norms that are part of customary international law.
Keywords: 21st Populism, Fitness for Public Office, International Human Rights, Majoritarianism
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