McGill Faculty of Law Centre for Legal Pluralism Echenberg Family Conference on Human Rights

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About the Conference

Echenberg Family Conference Series on Human Rights
Global Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Fragility of Freedom
21st - 23rd March 2013

Democracy has been widely endorsed as a core value in the international human rights community and viewed as essential to the realization and enhancement of basic dignity and human security. According to the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, “democracy is based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.” Not only is democracy central to struggles for civil and political freedoms, it is also critical to the protection of social and economic rights. Moreover, historically disempowered groups such as women, indigenous peoples, youth, and minorities are increasingly seeking greater democratic participation as a pathway to more effective protection for human rights.

Struggles for social justice, inclusion and respect for basic human dignity and fundamental freedoms are integrally connected to the promise of democracy. Respect for basic human rights - political, civil, economic and social - is necessary to the development of healthy and inclusive democracies. At the same time, healthy and inclusive democracies are considered to be vital to the effective protection of human rights. This connection has and continues to infuse the hopes and dreams of those seeking social change and respect for human rights across generations, continents and history.

In the turbulent times in which we live, we stand as witnesses to widespread struggles for social justice and democratic inclusion -- struggles both prompted and challenged by repressive authoritarian states, social exclusion and poverty, powerful transnational actors, environmental disasters, the trials of fragile and failing States and the difficulties faced by emerging ones. What challenges arise in transforming the promise of democracy into equitable, accountable and effective democratic governance?

The next Echenberg Family Conference will provide an interdisciplinary and international forum for exploring how to build and revitalize democracies, focusing on the protection of human dignity and the challenges of equitable participation and democratic accountability.

A Young Leaders conference will take place in conjunction with the Conference and will provide bright young activists from the around the world with an opportunity to engage with these issues, develop practical skills in advocacy and social change, and network with the Conference’s renowned speakers.

Conference Venue:
Centre Mont Royal
2200 Mansfield Street
Montreal, Quebec