The complex relation of human rights and democracy is a burning issue in political philosophy. Attempts at foundation range from the priority of one over the other, or their being equiprimordial. Reflecting on an inherent relation of human rights and democracy, the lecture tackles how this relation plays out in the practice of current liberal democracies. In the best case, synergies ensue – e.g. when a democratic legislator, oriented towards human rights, creates emancipatory law as a bulwark against the disadvantage of marginalized persons and groups, with the aim of furthering their equal freedom. However, legislators – and executives – increasingly regard human rights as inconvenient shackles, particularly when it comes to issues of internal and external security. All too frequently, in the name of the people, human rights are questioned as e.g. in proclamations of illiberal democracy, where also the separation of powers is challenged. The lecture spells out how such developments subvert the inherent connection of human rights and democracy, thereby distorting the meaning and promise of democracy.
Elisabeth Holzleithner is University Professor of Legal Philosophy and Legal Gender Studies and Head of the Department of Legal Philosophy. Her research interests are political philosophy, legal gender and queer studies, and the relation of law, literature and (popular) culture. She was awarded the Frauenring-Award 2017 for outstanding commitment to concerns of women and merits regarding gender equality. Further informations on her website.