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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses two interconnected questions about human rights and the pursuit of global justice: Is there a human right to democracy? How does the achievement of human rights, including the human right to democracy, contribute to the pursuit of global justice? The chapter answers the first question in the affirmative. It identifies three reasons for favoring democracy and explores the significance of those reasons for defending it as a human right. It answers important worries that acknowledging a human right to democracy would lead to intolerance and lack of respect for peoples’ self-determination, exaggerate the importance of democracy for securing other rights, generalize institutional arrangements that only work in some contexts, and tie human rights to specific ideas of freedom and equality that do not have the same universal appeal and urgency. Regarding the second question, the chapter distinguishes between basic and non-basic global justice and argues that democracy is significant for both. It claims that the fulfillment of human rights constitutes basic global justice, explains how a human right to democracy has significance for the legitimacy of international besides domestic institutions, and shows how forms of global democracy and the exploration of cosmopolitan and humanist commitments underlying human rights may enable and motivate the pursuit of non-basic demands of global justice (such as those concerning socioeconomic equality). The key claim in the chapter is that the fulfillment of the human right to democratic political empowerment is crucial for the pursuit of global justice.

Keywords: human rights, democracy, global justice, cosmopolitan, humanist

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