Extending human and civic rights

Collateral damage or a direct hit? Democratic ideals in the age of Trump

Collateral damage or a direct hit? Democratic ideals in the age of Trump

How robust are American democratic institutions under Trump’s presidency? Jennifer Earl argues that, even if his actions and lies do not amount to a coordinated effort to undermine democracy, the effect will be to systematically weaken the institutions of US democracy in the long term.

Reforming the Gender Recognition Act

Reforming the Gender Recognition Act

In 2017, the British government announced it would consult on amending the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to introduce the principle of self-determination for transgender people. With this process currently stalled amid increasingly acrimonious debates, Peter Dunne sets out the proposed legal reforms and points of contention.

Critical actors and abortion law: a group of individuals in Northern Irish politics obstructs change

Critical actors and abortion law: a group of individuals in Northern Irish politics obstructs change

There are various reasons why progress on legal abortion in Northern Ireland has been blocked over the years. Key among them is that individual politicians rule out any suggestion of change, writes Jennifer Thomson. She argues that more attention should be given to the actions of individual actors, considering their role can often be as important as that of political parties or institutions. 

The good, the bad and the ugly arguments for ditching the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

The good, the bad and the ugly arguments for ditching the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

One of the most contentious pieces of legislation to be put before Parliament – the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – now faces scrutiny and probable amendments in the Lords. From a human rights perspective, writes Joelle Grogan (Middlesex University), one of the most concerning aspects of the Bill is the exclusion of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights from the corpus of EU law to be incorporated into UK law. She assesses the arguments being made to exclude it, concluding that the only plausible explanation for rejection of Charter rights is the rejection of rights.

American democracy sold to the highest bidder

American democracy sold to the highest bidder

If the quality of democracy is to be measured by the extent to which it constrains the economically dominant, then American democracy is failing, writes George Tyler. Recent research has shown how campaign financing is skewing policy influence towards top earners. This is in contrast to many northern European countries, which can offer practical models for the US to follow.   

Increasing ethnic minority representation: why both political parties and electoral districts matter

Increasing ethnic minority representation: why both political parties and electoral districts matter

National parliaments in Western democracies remain far whiter than the increasingly diverse populations they represent. Benjamin Farrer (Knox College) and Josh Zingher (Old Dominion University) find that the explanation for this lies in the interaction of local demographics and political parties, and that as a result centre-left parties in the US, UK and Australia have been more successful at getting ethnic minority candidates elected.  

Accountability in a one-party system: the task of gauging public opinion in Vietnam

Accountability in a one-party system: the task of gauging public opinion in Vietnam

Vietnam is a one-party state: it is characterised variously as ‘not free’, ‘developmental’ and ‘responsive-regressive’. Dennis Curry explains how the UN Development Programme and a local think-tank worked together to get an insight into what citizens think of public service delivery and local governance. Their PAPI survey shows a growing concern for the environment, although it […]

Online abuse is driving women out of public life. It’s time to act

Online abuse is driving women out of public life. It’s time to act

Public scrutiny is one thing, but the degree of online abuse now suffered by female political candidates is another. The Independent Committee for Standards in Public Life has recommended that platforms be held liable for hate speech and incitement to violence – but, writes María Rún Bjarnadóttir (University of Sussex), domestic UK law currently does not […]

Book review | Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class, by the Working Class

Book review | Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class, by the Working Class

Inspired by the collection The Good Immigrant, Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class by the Working Class brings together 22 stories reflecting on working-class lives and experiences in the UK today. Edited by Nathan Connolly, this volume offers tales of sadness, struggle, resilience and resistance, all told with warmth and love, that show how class inequality is both personal and […]

The Chinese Communist Party has growing sway in Western universities

The Chinese Communist Party has growing sway in Western universities

In recent years, China has fostered academic links with Western universities by funding Confucius Institutes and sending its students to study abroad. As the recent uproar over the decision of Cambridge University Press to censor a list of journal articles for the Chinese market has highlighted, it also exerts growing influence in academic publishing. Alexander […]