The word democracy stems from the Greek language: demos (the people) and kratos
(govern). It is a type of state as well as an order of society. Democracyembodies a moral principle. Its means that every man has value.
"Democracy is the power of equal votes for unequal minds"~ Charles I
The word democracy stems from the Greek language: demos (the people) and kratos
(govern). It is a type of state as well as an order of society.
Democracyembodies a moral principle. Its means that every man has value. It
enshrines the truth that government does not exist for its own sake, but for the
enrichment of personality. No government has a right to be called a democracy if
it does not bring out the best in man.In short, democracy is the
institutionalization of freedom. The democratic set up can be of two types:-
Direct and Indirect democracy. In a direct democracy, the legal and political
sovereignty vests in the people. In the indirect system of democracy, it is the
representative of the people who exercise the power of legal as well as
political sovereignty. On 8th November 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed
15th September as the International Day of Democracy, inviting Member States,
the United Nations system and other regional, intergovernmental and
non-governmental organizations to commemorate the Day.
2. International Human Rights Law:
2.1. United Nations Charter, 1945
When the founders of the United Nations drafted the
Charter 70 years ago, they did not include the democracy. This was hardly
surprising. In 1945, still more than today, many of the UN’s Member States did
not espouse democracy as a system. Although the United Nations Charter includes
no mention of the word "democracy", the opening words of the charter, "We the
Peoples", reflect the fundamental principle of democracy, that the will of the
people is the source of legitimacy of sovereign states and therefore of the
United Nations as a wholebunch. This brings home the fact that democracy is one
of the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United
Nations. It is based on the freely expressed will of people and closely linked
to the rule of law and exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
2.2. Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, 1948
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted
by the General Assembly in 1948, clearly projected the concept of democracy by
stating "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of
government". The Declaration spells out the rights that are essential for
effective political participation. Since its adoption, the Declaration has
inspired constitution-making around the world and has contributed greatly to the
global acceptance of democracy as a universal value and principle. The link
between democracy and human rights is captured in article 21(3) of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
"The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this
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
2.3. International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights, 1966
The ICCPR (1996) lays the legal basis for the
principles of democracy under international law, particularly:
· Article 19 – the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
· Article 21 – the right of peaceful assembly;
· Article 22 – the right to freedom of association with others;
· Article 25 – the right and opportunity to take part in the conduct of
public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
The Covenant is binding on those States that have ratified it. As of July 2015,
the number of parties to the Covenant was 168, which constitutes approximately
85 per cent of the United Nations membership.
2.4. International Covenant On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, 1966
International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights covers the rights of certain groups like indigenous peoples,
women, minorities, people with disabilities and migrant workers etc, are equally
essential for democracy as they ensure inclusivity for all groups including
equality, equity in respect of access to civil and political rights.
2.5. Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against
"Success without democracy is improbable;
democracy without women is impossible"~ Madeleine Albright
Women are half of the world’s population, and as such their voice should be
heard in the democratic process. It is through democratic representation that
women’s interests can be represented and their voices heard.
Article 7 in the CEDAW reiterates the importance of women’s representation in
the political life of their countries:
"…..ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:
(a) To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for
election to all publicly elected bodies;
(b) To participate in the formulation of government policy and the
implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public
functions at all levels of government"
The role of women in democratic processes is further emphasized in the 2011
General Assembly resolution on Women’s Political Participation which reaffirms
"that the active participation of women, on equal terms with men, at all levels
of decision-making is essential to the achievement of equality, sustainable
development, peace and democracy".
2.6. United Nations Democracy Fund, 2005
The UNDEF supports projects that strengthen the voice of civil
society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in
democratic processes. It is the only UN entity that has the word "democracy" in
its name; the only UN body with the primary purpose of supporting democracy
through empowering civil society; and one of the youngest entities in the UN
system. Since Secretary-General Kofi A.Annan created UNDEF as a General Trust
Fund in 2005, it has supported more than 600 projects in over 120 countries,
with a total disbursement of more than 150 million dollars. These have ranged
from supporting civil society efforts for accountability and transparency to
building capacity for strengthening good governance and the rule of law.
2.7. Other Un Activities
United Nations activities in support of democracy and
governance are implemented through
· the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
· the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO),
· the Department of Political Affairs (DPA),
· the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),
· the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality,
· the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
Such activities are inseparable from the UN’s work in promoting human rights,
development, and peace and security, and include:
(a) assisting parliaments to enhance the checks and balances that allow
democracy to thrive;
(b) helping to strengthen the impartiality and effectiveness of national human
rights institutions and justice and security systems;
(c) and access to information;
(d) assisting to develop policies and legislation to guarantee the right to
freedom of association and of peaceful assembly;
(e) providing electoral assistance and long-term support for electoral
(f) promoting women’s participation in political and public life.
3. Indian Laws
3.1. Constitution Of India, 1950
" WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a
SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26 th day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT,
ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION".
Article 21 reads as:
"No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to
a procedure established by law".
Right to vote and the exercise of this franchise by eligible citizens is the
pulse of every democracy. And India, the largest democracy of the world, holds
this right as the most precious attribute of the Indian Parliamentary democracy.
Part XV – Elections
Article 325 : No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be
included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or
Article 326 : Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative
Assemblies of States to be on the basis of Adult Suffrage.
In Chandra Raja Kumar v. Police Commissioner Hyderabad,
It has been held that the right to life includes right to life with human
dignity and decency and, therefore, holding of beauty contest is repugnant to
dignity or decency of women and offends Article 21 of the Constitution only if
the same is grossly indecent, scurrilous, obscene or intended for blackmailing.
The government is empowered to prohibit the contest as objectionable performance
under Section 3 of the Andhra Pradesh Objectionable Performances Prohibition
In Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v. Cricket Association of
Every citizen has a fundamental right to impart as well as receive information
through the electronic media. It ruled that frequencies or airwaves are public
property, and that the government enjoys no monopoly over broadcasting. Court
ordered the government to take immediate steps to set up an independent and
autonomous public authority to regulate frequencies. Freedom of speech and
expression ( Article 19 (1) & 19(2) ) played an important role in this decision.
In Brij Bhushan v. State of Delhi,
The validity of censorship previous to the publication of an English Weekly of
Delhi, the Organiser was questioned. The court struck down the Section 7 of the
East Punjab Safety Act, 1949, which directed the editor and publisher of a
newspaper "to submit for scrutiny, in duplicate, before the publication, till
the further orders, all communal matters and news and views about Pakistan,
including photographs, and cartoons", on the ground that it was a restriction on
the liberty of the press. Similarly, prohibiting newspaper from publishing its
own views or views of correspondents about a topic has been held to be a serious
encroachment on the freedom of speech and expression.
3.2. Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
Section 144 of the Sub-section (6), of the Code of Criminal Procedure can be
imposed by the government in certain areas which makes the assembly of 5 or more
people an unlawful assembly.
Section 129 of the Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes the police to disperse
any unlawful assembly which may cause disturbance to public peace.
3.3. Government Of India Act, 1935
We were ruled by British, and they had Democratic system
( Of course Monarch is notional head). So the British tried to form a government
system for India on England. And then Many Acts were passed to gradually
increase the democratic system, this can seen from Government of India Act of
1861 and then finally Government of India Act 1935. Our present day system of
democracy is largely based upon Government of India Act 1935, so it can be said
as bedrock of our democratic system. At that time voting rights used to be
conferred upon on basis of Property Holdings, Educational Background etc. at the
time of independence we were very familiar with democratic system so our
constitutional fathers chose Democracy over Monarch.
4. Regional Laws :
4.1. Inter- American Human Rights System
4.1.1. American Convention on Human Rights, 1978
Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights provide the right of
citizens to vote and be elected in genuine periodic elections.
4.1.2. American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, 1948
Article 20 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man guarantee
the right of citizens to vote and be elected in genuine periodic elections.
4.1.3. Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), 1948
The OAS establishes in its preamble, "representative democracy is an
indispensable condition for the stability, peace and development of the region",
and establishes that one of its purposes is "to promote and consolidate
representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of
non-intervention". In the 1991 the General Assembly of the Organization of
American States established a process by which the OAS will take action if the
democratic order is interrupted in any member country. In 1992, the Protocol of
Washington, ( in ratification), defending democracy.
4.2. African Charter On Human And People’s Rights, 1981
Article 13(1) of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and People’s Rights
provides that every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in their
4.3. European Convention For The Protection Of Human Rights And Fundamental
Article 3 Of Protocol I of the Convention Parties undertake to hold free
elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot "under conditions which will
ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the
Articles 9, 10, and 11 of this Convention also ensure the right to freedom of
thought, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to freedom of
5. Right To Democracy In U.S:
Access to information laws reflect the fundamental
premise that government is supposed to serve the people.
Article 19 has described information as "the oxygen of democracy";
information is essential to democracy at a number of levels. Elections can never
meet their goal-described under international law as ensuring that "the will of
the people shall be the basis of the authority of government" if the
electorate lacks access to information which enables it to form an opinion.
Democracy is also about accountability and good governance. The public has a
right to scrutinise the actions of its leaders and to engage in full and open
debate about those actions.
As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously noted,"A little sunlight
is the best disinfectant".
In 2000, the Commission recommended a series of important legislative,
institutional and practical measures to consolidate democracy. Since its
establishment in 2006, the Human Rights Council has adopted a number of
resolutions highlighting the interdependent and mutually reinforcing
relationship between democracy and human rights. in transitional democracies and
countries emerging from conflict, OHCHR collaborates with national governments
and other actors to confront the past in order to rebuild public confidence and
restore peace and the rule of law.United Nations electoral assistance has been a
crucial and successful component in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and in
establishing and deepening democratic governance. The UN is committed to acting
on that, and ensuring that young people have their democratic say. In the words
of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi : "As a young
person, you don’t need to carry UN badge to work for the UN. You just need to
carry its values in your heart".