Sign up for our Email Newsletter Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
Human Rights Without Democracy?: Reconciling Freedom with Equality

View Table of Contents

See Related
History Journals

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Human Rights Without Democracy?

Reconciling Freedom with Equality

Gret Haller
Translated from the German by Cynthia Klohr

180 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-786-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2012)

eISBN 978-0-85745-787-5 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


Do Human Rights truly serve the people? Should citizens themselves decide democratically of what those rights consist? Or is it a decision for experts and the courts? Gret Haller argues that Human Rights must be established democratically. Drawing on the works of political philosophers from John Locke to Immanuel Kant, she explains why, from a philosophical point of view, liberty and equality need not be mutually exclusive. She outlines the history of the concept of Human Rights, shedding light on the historical development of factual rights, and compares how Human Rights are understood in the United States in contrast to Great Britain and Continental Europe, uncovering vast differences. The end of the Cold War presented a challenge to reexamine equality as being constitutive of freedom, yet the West has not seized this opportunity and instead allows so-called experts to define Human Rights based on individual cases. Ultimately, the highest courts revise political decisions and thereby discourage participation in the democratic shaping of political will.

Gret Haller is a lawyer, politician, and author. In 1987 she became a member of Swiss parliament and in 1993/94 was its Speaker, as well as a member of the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and OSCE. She has served as Swiss ambassador to the Council of Europe and from 1996 to 2000 was OSCE Human Rights Ombudsperson for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. The University of St. Gallen awarded her an honorary doctorate for her work in human rights. Her publications include Limits of Atlanticism: Perceptions of State, Nation and Religion in Europe and the United States (2007) and Menschenrechte und Volkssouveränität in Europa. Gerichte als Vormund der Demokratie? (with Klaus Günther adn Ulfrid Neumann, Campus Verlag 2011).

Subject: History (General)



Part I: The Notion of Human Rights Prior to 1789

Chapter 1. The Prehistory and Context of Human Rights

  • The Concept of Human Dignity
  • Charters of Liberties and the Social Contract

Chapter 2. First Notions of Human Rights

  • Hobbes
  • Locke
  • Rousseau
  • Kant

Chapter 3. Human Rights, Morals, and Law

  • Normativity and Reality
  • Natural Law and Positive Law
  • Autonomy, Virtue, and Coercion

Part II: Human Rights from 1789 to 1989

Chapter 4. From Human Rights to Positive Law

  • Nationalization
  • Internationalization

Chapter 5. Human Rights, the State, and Democracy

  • The Role of the State
  • Democratic Legitimacy for Human Rights

Chapter 6. Politics and Law

  • Politics and Law at the National Level
  • The Ambivalence of Internationalization

Part III: The Crisis in Human Rights Since 1989

Chapter 7. The Cold War

  • East-West Confrontation
  • New Interventionism

Chapter 8. Moralizing Human Rights

  • Politics and Law Switch Roles
  • An Instrument of Liberation becomes Tool of Discipline

Chapter 9. Natural Right and Imposed Concepts of Man

  • Expertise Ousts Democracy
  • The Revolutionary Aspect of Human Rights

Part IV: Outlook

Chapter 10. Perspectives for Democratic Legitimacy

  • Responsibility at the National Level
  • Mitigating Discourse on Human Rights

Chapter 11. Universality and Regionalization

  • Differentiation in the West
  • Freedom and Equality

Chapter 12. Repercussions from the Cold War

  • Religion versus Human Rights
  • From Locke to Kant


Back to Top