Global Democracy and Human Rights

Senior Fellow, Andrew Reding

The regionalization and globalization of commerce, capital, communications and immigration have profound political implications. Nation-states are losing much of their traditional power to control what happens within their borders. That has both desirable and undesirable effects.

On the plus side, regional and global markets offer prospects of greater prosperity through improved complementarity and efficiency. Instantaneous global communications subject governments to unprecedented levels of public and international scrutiny.

Yet in the absence of regional and global democratic institutions, a democratic deficit is opening up as more and more decisions are made by elite international bodies that are not elected by the people their decisions affect. And without regional and global environmental and social welfare standards, gains won by citizens of the advanced democracies through costly social struggles are jeopardized.

The Project for Global Democracy and Human Rights directed by Senior Fellow Andrew Reding explores issues of democracy and human rights in the context of globalization. It identifies problems and points to solutions, with an emphasis on multilateral approaches. Ultimately, the solution to the problems of globalization is to expand democratic institutions and the rule of law to regional and global levels. That process is already underway, as evidenced by the development of:

  • International human rights treaties, such as the United Nations Convention Against Torture;
  • International human rights courts, such as the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights;
  • International environmental treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
  • International legislatures, such as the European Parliament.

The project studies and popularizes these developments and offers policy recommendations for their further elaboration into a world order that secures fundamental human rights and democratic decision making for all human beings, while also protecting the natural environment.

The project recognizes internationally-accepted definitions of human rights, as codified at the global level in the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the U. N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and as codified at the regional level in the European Convention on Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights.

The project, formerly known as the Americas Project, has received support from the General Service Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the Max and Anna Levinson Foundation, the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, the Norman Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the J. M. Kaplan Fund, the Funding Exchange and the Bay Area Institute/Pacific News Service.



Entre los individuos como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz. 'Between individuals as between nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.'
-Benito Juárez, Zapotec and president of Mexico, 1867
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.
-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776