The Right to Democracy
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will, shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
The Commission on Human Rights,
Bearing in mind the indissoluble links between the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the foundation of any democratic society,
Recalling that all peoples have the right of self determination, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,
Recognizing that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and that democracy is based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives,
Recognizing also the rich and diverse nature of the community of the world’s democracies,
Recalling the large body of international law and instruments, including its resolutions and those of the General Assembly, which confirm the right to full participation and the other fundamental democratic rights and freedoms inherent in any democratic society,
Resolved, on the eve of a new century and millennium, to take all measures within its power to secure for all people the fundamental democratic rights and freedoms to which they are entitled,
1. Affirms that democracy fosters the full realization of all human rights, and vice versa;
2. Also affirms that the rights of democratic governance include, inter alia, the following:
(a) The rights to freedom of opinion and expression, of thought, conscience and religion, and of peaceful association and assembly;
(b) The right to freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media;
(c) The rule of law, including legal protection of citizens’ rights, interests and personal security, and fairness in the administration of justice and independence of the judiciary;
(d) The right of universal and equal suffrage, as well as free voting procedures and periodic and free elections;
(e) The right of political participation, including equal opportunity for all citizens to become candidates;
(f) Transparent and accountable government institutions;
(g) The right of citizens to choose their governmental system through constitutional or other democratic means;
(h) The right to equal access to public service in one’s own country;
3. Notes that the realization of all human rights civil, cultural, economic, political and social, including the right to development are indispensable to human dignity and the full development of human potential and are also integral to democratic society;
The concepts of human rights, democracy and development remain and will ever remain
most paramount in the affairs of all nations which cherish liberty and good governance. At present, there is virtually any facet of diplomatic interactions between one sovereign nation and the other which is not founded on the internationally accepted principles of human rights, democracy and development. Having passed through many years of agonizing, undemocratic and dehumanizing military regimes; Nigerians have come to realize that genuine concern for human rights and democracy is a viable option for attaining effective development well-recognized by international communities. Unfortunately, this realization is now being manifested in the affairs ofNigeriavery much in theory rather than in practice.
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedom. Modern democracy envisages a new notion conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. As boldly affirmed by Franklin Roosevelt: “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms, the first is freedom of speech. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way …. The Third is freedom from want …. The fourth is freedom from fear or oppression………” Without these four necessary freedoms, no government will deserve to be called a democracy.
Clara Smith was thus right when she described “freedom” as “man’s birth right, a sacred, living rampart, a pulse beat of humanity, the throb of a nation’s heart.”
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), leader ofIndia’s non-violent struggle for freedom said “My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest.”
“My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest.”
The greatest protection of human rights emanates from a democratic framework grounded in the rule of law. A functional democracy that accommodates diversity is increasingly becoming the planet’s best bet against the concentration of power in the hands of a few and the abuse that inevitably results from it.