The Institute for Democracy and Human Rights aims to develop pioneering research, postgraduate training and public outreach initiatives that have a long-term positive impact on academic and public life in Australia, the wider Asia and Pacific region and beyond. It aspires to leadership in research and public discussion and policy intervention in all matters concerning the past, present and future of democracy and human rights, generously defined. IDHR is developing new partnerships with universities, NGOs and networks, at home and abroad, including the WZB Berlin, the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Fudan University in Shanghai and India's oldest and most respected social science research institute, the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
IDHR's work includes cross-disciplinary projects in a wide variety of areas, including environmental politics; human rights and conceptions of the non-human; the representation of indigenous peoples; the reform of Australian democracy; the future of Antarctica; the growth of cross-border governing institutions; post-colonialism; communications media and journalism; gender and politics; changing conceptions of freedom; social injustice and citizenship; religion and public and private ethics; violence and authoritarian regimes; democratic theory and the future of democratic institutions.
Professor John Keane, IDHR's Director, emphasises that IDHR is a new type of open space institute guided by a distinctive ethos: "It's the first institute of its kind in Australia and our wider Asia and Pacific region, and it's driven by a powerful conviction: the belief that in the early years of the 21st century the study of democracy and human rights faces steep learning curves, that it requires fresh thinking that names, explains and constructively engages in bold and creative ways with fast-changing global realities."