Defending the Global Human Rights System from Authoritarian Assault: How Democracies Can Retake the Initiative 

July 10, 2023
10:30 am - 11:30 am

About the Event

Authoritarian influence in multilateral institutions is growing rapidly and poses a serious threat to democratic and human rights principles. Repressive governments have worked to undermine mechanisms that are meant to ensure accountability for human rights abuses and to transform the United Nations, its related bodies, and other international institutions into fora for mutual praise. Both the Chinese Communist Party and the Kremlin are working to subvert human rights norms on the international stage, peddle favorable narratives, and oppose resolutions examining their poor human rights records. Democratic societies must rally behind the global human rights system and ensure that it remains capable of assisting activists and victims around the world.

Please join the International Forum for Democratic Studies, Rana Siu Inboden (Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin), and Sophie Richardson (Human Rights Watch) for a discussion on this crucial challenge to global democratic integrity. The discussion will take place online via NED’s YouTube channel. This event will serve to launch the report from the International Forum on this topic.


Dr. Rana Siu Inboden is a senior fellow with the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin. She serves as a consultant on human rights, democracy and rule of law projects in Asia for a number of nongovernmental organizations and conducts research related to international human rights, Chinese foreign policy, the effectiveness of international human rights and democracy projects and authoritarian collaboration in the United Nations. Her first book, China and the International Human Rights Regime (Cambridge, 2021) examines China’s role in the international human rights regime between 1982 and 2017. Dr. Inboden holds a DPhil from the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University.

Dr. Sophie Richardson serves as the China Director at Human Rights Watch. She has overseen the organization’s research and advocacy on China since 2006, and has published extensively on human rights and political reform in the country and across Southeast Asia. She has testified to the Canadian Parliament, European Parliament, and the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Dr. Richardson is the author of China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Columbia University Press, Dec. 2009), an in-depth examination of China’s foreign policy since 1954’s Geneva Conference, including rare interviews with Chinese policy makers. She speaks Mandarin, and received her doctorate from the University of Virginia and her BA from Oberlin College. Follow @SophieHRW.

Christopher Walker is Vice President for Studies and Analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. In this capacity, he oversees the department responsible for NED’s multifaceted analytical work. He is an expert on authoritarian regimes, and has been at the forefront of the discussion on authoritarian influence on open systems, including through what he terms “sharp power.” His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Financial TimesWall Street JournalNew York TimesWashington PostForeign Affairs, and the Journal of Democracy. He is co-editor (with Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner) of the edited volume Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), and co-editor (with Jessica Ludwig) of the report Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence (NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, 2017). Follow @Walker_CT.

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