This research theme investigates the intersection between democracy and human rights including the role of political parties, the regulation of elections, the proper role of courts and litigation in the promotion and protection of human rights and the specific pathologies of weak or illiberal democracies.

In October 2018, The Bonavero Institute hosted a major conference on 'Confronting Illiberalism: The Role of the Media, Civil Society and Universities', to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the keynote speech on the rise of illiberalism. Human rights practitioners, academics, and journalists from around the world engaged in discussions on how three key institutions of civil society – the media, civil society organisations and universities, are addressing the threat of illiberalism.