Document Type : Research Article

Author

Lecturer at Irish Centre for Human Rights; National University of Ireland Galway, Galway: Ireland.

Abstract

The emerging right to democracy (e.g. Franck, T) within international law favors a liberal, democratic packaging. Yet as Abedolkarim Sourash argues, there has been a conflation of liberalism and democracy, which must be decoupled.  It is from this point of departure that this paper will examine the international legality of militant democracy and interrogate when and how a constitutional democracy can legally act in an anti-democratic manner to combat threats to its democratic existence.  Militant democracy was a term introduced in 1937 by Karl Lowenstein. It refers to a form of constitutional democracy authorized to protect civil and political freedom by pre-emptively restricting its exercise. Lowenstein’s writings, at the time, were concerned with the limitations of democratic institutions in containing fascism. Militant democracies stand in contrast with the principles of legal pluralism, but the extent to which international law authorizes transformative political agendas that seek to implement forms of religious, cultural, or national autonomy is unclear.

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