General Course Descriptions for Terms: China

940 - Law, Populism, and Constitutional Democracy

Democracy and human rights reached their peak in the 1990s, with the so-called ‘third wave of democratization’ (Huntington, 1991), and the impressive development of International Human Rights Law in that decade. More recently the world has seen the resurgence of authoritarian tendencies in both new and –what used to be thought as— consolidated democracies, due to the rise of national-populist leaders (Levitsky and Ziblatt, 2018; Ginsburg and Huq, 2018). In this seminar we will study the threat posed to constitutional democracy by the rise of populism. We shall: a) analyze the phenomenon of “authoritarian populism”; b) address the way the latter uses –and abuses— legal institutions to advanced its goals (specifically, “abusive constitution making”); c) explore the origins, features, retreat and resurgence of the “principle of non-interference with internal affairs of sovereign states”; d) explore its collision with International Human Rights Law and courts, and, finally, e) address the way the latter is deployed by authoritarian governments in countries as diverse as Hungary, Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil, Russia, China, and The Philippines. The Seminar is open to students interested in compliance with International Human Rights Law, as well as those interested in the challenges to constitutional democracy posed by nationalist populism. Methodology: This Seminar is based on an intensive participation of the students enrolled in it, through a critical analysis of the reading assigned to each session. In consequence, each student will be expected to give her/his opinion on both the themes addressed by the readings as well as the approach taken by the authors. Evaluation: Final term paper of 20 pages, single spaced, for 3 credits, or 15 pages, single spaced, for 2 credits, on a topic previously discussed with the professor.