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Human rights and global democracy are widely assumed to be compatible, but the conceptual and practical connection between them has received little attention. As a result, the relationship is under-theorized, and important potential conflicts between them have been neglected or overlooked. This essay attempts to fill this gap by addressing directly the conceptual relationship between human rights and global democracy. It argues that human rights are a necessary condition for global democracy. Human rights constrain power, enable meaningful political agency, and support and promote democratic regimes within states, all of which are fundamental elements in any scheme for global democracy. The essay explores the normative and conceptual bases of these functions and works out some of their institutional implications.