Populism and Human Rights: From Disenchantment to Democratic Riposte
iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 156
Forthcoming (in a shorter version) in From Criticism to Scorn: How the Recalibration of Human Rights Diminishes Liberty and What to Do About It? edited by By Professor A Sajó and Professor R. Uitz
63 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 25, 2019
This aim of this article is to understand the upsurge of populism and its complex relationship with human rights. After a necessary incursion into the history of populism, it will be possible to examine the way in which populist logics and/or governments feed on social disenchantment, which is actually, fundamentally, a democratic disenchantment with regard to the power of transformation of the rule of law (and of which human rights are an essential pillar). Democratic weaknesses will be scrutinized for any shortcomings bound up with human rights law and its guarantee mechanisms and that might explain the use of objective features by populist leaders and parties that feed into their policies. Having critiqued the workings of democracy and having reviewed the weaknesses of human rights law and its implementation, the paper aims to decipher the effects of populist parties coming to power. When populist discourse succeeds in creating forceful logics that end up winning power, the effects on the elementary principles of democratic regimes are devastating. Confronted with this dangerous dismantling of democracy although human rights law and human rights institutions are directly affected, they attempt to fight back at the same time. However, democratic riposte is not devoid of multiple difficulties.
Keywords: Populism, Human Rights, Democracy, International Law, International Judges, Constitutional Judges, NGO’s
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