Is democracy a human right?

Thomas Campbell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    After dealing with some methodological (Part 1) and definitional (Part 2) questions aimed at justifying its focus on bringing out the practical consequences of adopting democracy as a human right, in Part 3 the paper outlines and criticises arguments commonly made against having such a human right. It distinguishes between those arguments that deal with: (a) alleged conceptual inadequacies, such as that democracy does not satisfy defining criteria for human rights, such as universality, importance and intrinsic worth, (b) political doubts relating to the practicality of 'self-determination' and the acceptability of international intervention on the grounds of democratic deficits, and (c) weaknesses and inconsistencies relating to the legal implementation of democracy, such as the problem of having democracy as a human right when a function of human rights is to limit democracy and, in international law, the reluctance to adopt measures against non-democratic regimes. The paper questions these arguments individually, and points out that, if sound, they would exclude several generally accepted human rights. This exposes a pattern of unjustified discrimination against the idea that democracy is or ought to be a human right.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-126
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Applied Philosophy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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