The incremental deterioration of democratic rule worldwide is one of the most pressing global challenges today, and public lawyers are indispensable to the search for greater understanding of this phenomenon, and to the search for potential solutions. This challenge is now the focus of one of the most rapidly expanding research areas in public law: every week more research appears and more events and projects are announced as scholars push to grasp the unfolding and intensifying rollback of democratic progress globally. Yet, much of this global effort is scattered as scholars are cut off from one another by research field boundaries, geographic boundaries, and network boundaries.
The Democratic Decay Resource (DEM-DEC) is a major new online resource created by Dr Tom Gerald Daly (Melbourne Law School), and supported by a range of leading organisations in public law and policy. It focuses on the global challenge of the incremental deterioration of democratic rule and is broadly pitched at public lawyers, i.e. those working on constitutional, international and transnational law. It is envisaged as developing over time into a collaborative resource that would be of use to public lawyers, political scientists and policymakers.
Overall, the resource is aimed at providing key information in one place, to frame the research area, to address conceptual confusion, and to bring scholars (and others) together in a context where many researchers are talking in silos, or past one another. New scholarship can fail to cite old scholarship, and concepts are quickly proliferating, which tends to obscure the fact that many scholars are discussing the same phenomenon under different rubrics.
A COLLABORATIVE CONVERSATION
DEM-DEC offers a resource that not only works as a form of ‘one stop shop’ for information on democratic decay, but also as a forum for researchers to have a collaborative and inclusive conversation: feedback forms are provided throughout the site to allow researchers to suggest amendments to the ‘Concept Index’, additions to the bibliography, request to be added to ‘Scholars’ section, provide teaching resources on democratic decay or information on research projects in which they are involved. Scholars are also encouraged to contact Tom directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This resource draws on years of research by Dr Tom Gerald Daly for a book project on our faith in public law to remedy the incremental deterioration of democratic rule worldwide, on a JD legal research subject delivered this semester at Melbourne Law School on 'Understanding Democratic Decay Worldwide', as well as conversations with leading scholars in this emerging field worldwide, and a serial column on the I-CONnect Blog in 2017 concerning democratic decay.
VERSION 1.O OF DEM-DEC IS NOW LIVE!
'Version 1.0' of DEM-DEC is now live at www.democratic-decay.org. The Resource is being launched through announcements on a range of leading public law blogs, including the IACL-AIDC Blog, I-CONnect Blog, Verfssungsblog and EJIL:Talk!
The website contains a range of material. The main sections are:
- Concept Index: Contains definitions and explainers of some 80 key concepts in the field (e.g. 'rule of law', 'rule by law', 'autocratic legalism', 'authoritarian backsliding'), including key sources, explainers and cross-references to related concepts.
- Concept Map: Provides a basic map of the overall conceptual landscape.
- Scholars: Provides a list of scholars working on the area globally, with keywords to identify their main interests, country/region focus, and link to their profile.
- Bibliography: Online version and versions for download. Organised under 3 headings:
- Themes (e.g. 'The Current Crisis of Democracy: Recent Research', 'Hybrid Regimes and Modern Authoritarianism', 'Law as a Weapon: Hollowing Out Democracy' etc)
- World Regions (Europe, North America, Latin America etc)
- International Organisations (EU, OAS, MERCOSUR, AU etc)
- Events: This section collates events and calls for papers related to the subject of democratic decay.
- Links: This section lists leading organisations, centres and other research material.
A number of leading organisations, centres and blogs in the area of public law and policy support the Resource as Partners. These are:
- the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies (CCCS) (Melbourne)
- the Constitution Transformation Network (ConTransNet) (Melbourne)
- the Constitutionally Speaking Blog (South Africa)
- Democracy Reporting International (DRI)
- Democratic Erosion: A Cross-University Collaboration (USA; resource for political and social scientists)
- the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law (ECCL)
- the IACL-AIDC Blog
- the I-CONnect Blog
- RECONNECT: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and Rule of Law
The baseline is for an organisation to simply provide 'moral support' to the resource and to assist in publicising it.
ABOUT THE CREATOR OF THE RESOURCE
You can find information on the creator of DEM-DEC, Dr Tom Gerald Daly, in the About Tom section of the website, including access to his own research on democratic decay.