Department of Government

Annual Lecture on Law & Social Transformation

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People worried about attacks on democracy need to think beyond individual rights to the supporting institutions that make democracy possible.   Transnational courts are now leading the way as they transform rights into constitutional structures that can sustain democracy.   In the last few years, we have seen the right to a fair trial transformed into a requirement of judicial independence, the right to vote transformed into a requirement of neutral election administration and the right to stand for office transformed into a justification for presidential term limits.   Transnational courts – including the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights – are opening their doors to litigation aimed at preserving democracy around the world by shoring up the structural protections of national constitutions.  Activists can help in this effort by bringing cases to these welcoming courts. 

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