Democracy and Human Rights
Democracy and human rights are clearly different notions; “they are distinct enough for them to be viewed as discreet and differentiated political concepts.” Whereas democracy aims to empower “the people” collectively, human rights aims to empower individuals. Similarly, human rights is directly associated with the how of ruling, and not just the who, which may be the case in an electoral democracy, though not in a substantive democracy. Thus, “democracies” exist that do not necessarily protect human rights, while some non-democratic states are able to ensure some, though not all, human rights. On another level, the international acceptance, institutionalization, and legal aspects of human rights mentioned above do not apply to democracy. These distinctions have influenced the traditional separation of the theories and fields of human rights and democracy. From the human rights perspective, many have adhered to the separationist theory, which argues that “democracy is not immediately needed for the observation of human rights and that the maintenance of an essential link between human rights and democracy may well have the effect of delaying the implementation of human rights norms in various states.” A recent corollary of the separationist theory is the “democracy as neo-imperialism” notion that charges that “democracy is a ‘Western-centric’ approach to government that is not found indigenously in all societies and is not desirable for all peoples.” These arguments are subject to several key counter arguments that illustrate the interdependence of human rights and democracy. First, in terms of the neo-imperialist argument, it is certainly true that Western superpowers should not impose their particular forms of democracy on other societies and expect them to be accepted and sustainable, as noted above. However, it is equally culturally insensitive to claim that democracy is only an option in the West, or that it is...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document