Democracy and the Un

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Democracy is a universally recognized ideal and is one of the core values of the United Nations. Democracy provides an environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights. These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which enshrines a host of political rights and civil liberties underpinning meaningful democracies United Nations activities in support of democracy and governance are carried out through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), among others. Such activities are inseparable from the UN’s work in promoting human rights, development, and peace and security, and include: * assisting parliaments to enhance the checks and balances that allow democracy to thrive; * helping to strengthen the impartiality and effectiveness of national human rights machinery and judicial systems; * helping to develop legislation and media capacities to ensure freedom of expression and access to information; * providing electoral assistance and long-term support for electoral management bodies; * promoting women’s participation in political and public life. 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. 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 whole. 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.

Democracy in international law

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 whole.

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.

Poster with Preamble of the UN Charter
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) lays the legal basis for the principles of democracy under international law, particularly:

freedom of expression (Article 19); the right of peaceful assembly (Article 21); the right to freedom of association with others (Article 22); the right and opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives (Article 25); the right to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors (Article 25). The Covenant is binding on those States that have ratified it. As of 8 July 2010, the number of parties to the Covenant was 166, which constitutes approximately 85 per cent of the United Nations membership.

The Convention on the Elimination of All...
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