Democracies and Human Rights


Democracy is a system in which citizens have the right to form independent associations, political parties, and interest groups. The right to express dissenting opinions and the right to participate in public debate are fundamental to democracy. Citizens are empowered to vote in a representative body that makes the law and the government accountable. They can challenge elected officials’ decisions without fear of override.

Activists can influence the policies of their government by staying informed about social issues and making their voices heard. They can do this through the media or through grassroots groups that work on particular issues. Citizens can influence local and national politics through petitions, citizen initiatives, or other means. The government is working to increase participation of citizens in politics and policy decisions.

Democracy and human rights are inextricably linked. The right to participate in government is a fundamental human right, and according to Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, democracy is the only form of government that is compatible with human rights. For example, Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that government must be based on the will of the people.

Despite the benefits of democracy, many autocratic regimes are making inroads in other countries. Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, has recently stated that China is “blazing a new path” for developing nations. Among other things, autocracies are adopting the same policies as Western democracies, which includes politicized courts, intolerance of dissent, and predetermined elections.

Democracies are the most stable, prosperous, and least corrupt societies in the world. They are also the most protective of individual freedoms. People from all walks of life embrace the ideals of democracy. They believe in the freedom of speech, free elections, and accountable government. They have free press, as long as there is no government corruption.

Democracy also evolved naturally in well-defined, well-organized groups like tribes. Tribal groups have a unique set of rules that permit members to run their own affairs and involve the tribal elders in decisions. This assumption has been supported by studies of nonliterate, tribal societies. Furthermore, early humans lived by hunting and gathering and thus, democracy developed naturally in the early stages of human development.

The liberal approach combines economic modernization and political liberalism. The liberal approach to democracy restricts democracy to wealthy, highly developed and best-educated nations. This approach parallels the phenomenon of social elitism in the national sphere. Middle-class men in Europe and America are granted enormous power by the liberal approach.

In 2017, democracy faced its greatest crisis in decades. Despite gains in civil and political rights, fundamental tenets of democracy were under attack. In 2017, 71 countries experienced net declines in political rights while 35 countries recorded gains. At the same time, the United States retreated from its historical role as the model for democracy.