Todd Landman Academic Magician

Human Rights and Democracy

Landman Bloomsbury Book Cover



Published under Creative Commons Licence by Bloomsbury Academic

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Human Rights and Democracy

Hardback ISBN 9781849663465

Paperback ISBN 9781849663458


'The book gives valuable, fresh insights in four ways in particular: Landman places an untraditionally strong emphasis on the role of the individual, from citizens' mobilisation to the political calculations of leaders. He presents a convincing case for democracy's economic benefits but also makes the intangibles of democracy very real for the reader. He captures well the new crisis in old European and US democracies as well as the multidimensional challenges of building new democracies. And he documents democracy's superiority as a political system in addressing challenges like climate change and terrorism.It's accessible, instructive and engaging, rich on research and made more convincing through Landman's practical experience and no-nonsense style of writing.'

Vidar Helgesen, Secretary General, International IDEA

'Here is an inspiring and enlightening set of arguments for anyone who is intrigued by the interrelationship between democracy and human rights. Few can like Todd Landman pull out the essentials from specialised discourses, and explain them in plain language while retaining respect for the complexities. He then takes the discussion to the next level, and explores links to development and peace/security. This is a state of the art contribution from a true public intellectual. A must read for policy makers working on democracy and human rights, and a source of inspiration for everyone else.'

Ingrid Wetterqvist, European External Action Service

‘In a fascinating journey through the world over the last 60 years, which builds on his broad experience, knowledge and insight, Todd Landman copes with the key questions on democracy and human rights today. He shows and explains how those ideals have been translated into reality, but also considers how their ‘triumph’ is ‘precarious,’ as they are continually being threatened, both internally and externally. Consequently [...] the need to monitor and defend them is more urgent than ever.’

Leonardo Morlino, Past President, International Political Science Association and Professor of Political Science, LUISS, Italy

‘An engaging and important discussion by a scholar who has led the way in studying the empirical connection between human rights and democracy. Landman helps us think critically about the challenges we face in today’s world and reminds us of the things that matter and how progress has been attained, inviting us to defeat cynicism and seek out ways to link knowledge to action.’

Gerardo Munck, University of Southern California, USA


The 20th Century has been described as the bloodiest century in the history of humankind, where state and non state actors have killed more people than in any other time in world history. But from the middle of this bloody century, people around the world embraced the ideas of democracy and human rights in ways that they had not done so before.

They created social, political, and legal institutions that seek to constrain the worst forms of human behaviour. This project is far from over, but by the turn of the new century more countries were democratic than non-democratic, inter-state and intrastate conflict saw a dramatic decline, and the promotion and protection of human rights have advanced far beyond the expectations of the original drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This book is an optimistic but cautionary tale of these developments in democracy and human rights around the world. It is founded on a Hobessian assumption about human nature but seeks to show that the world has sought to construct a Lockean and Rawlsian solution ‘for our own sake’.

The optimism celebrates the global turn from tyranny towards democracy and rights, while the caution examines the precariousness of our achievements, particularly in the face of democratic setbacks in some countries and undermining of rights commitments in many states during the so-called ‘war on terror’.

Illustrated throughout with tables, charts, and graphs, as well as briefing boxes of success and setbacks, the book draws on the extant political science, international law, and international relations literature to provide an easily accessible and user-friendly overview of democracy and human rights in the world that will be of interest to scholars, policymakers, practitioners, business leaders, and the general public.

It is structured through a series of ‘conceptual couplets’ (Chapter 1-10) that have inherent tensions, while the tone is upbeat, cogent, and coherent.


  1. Introduction
  2. Abundance and Freedom
  3. Democracy and Human Rights
  4. Waves and Setbacks
  5. Evidence and Explanations
  6. Agents and Advocates
  7. Truth and Justice
  8. Threats and Pitfalls
  9. Benefits and Outcomes
  10. Hopes and Challenges

Human Rights and Democracy: The Precarious Triumph of Ideals

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