On the Human Right to Democracy: Searching for Sense Without Stilts
Journal of Social Philosophy, v. 43.2, 177-203, 2012.
27 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2012 Last revised: 6 Sep 2017
Date Written: April 17, 2012
In this paper I argue that once we get clear on the various ways in which universal justice-based moral rights are transformed into human rights by virtue of being of special significance or concern to the international community, we will see that in one, arguably basic, sense of human rights there is no human right to democracy, but in another sense there is. In the former sense, there is no human right to democracy in the sense of a right that a polity must secure for its members in order to merit full recognition, standing or membership within the international community or full ongoing participation in its main activities. In the latter sense, there is a human right to democracy in the sense of a right the noncoercive pursuit and promotion of which, consistent with just international interaction and cooperation, many if not all members of the international community have identified as a high priority and with respect to which they seek to make common cause. The argument for the conclusion reached, namely that in one sense there is and in one sense there isn't a human right to democracy, proceeds from premises fully consistent with and even expressive of the core commitments of liberal democratic conceptions of justice.
Keywords: human rights, democracy, international justice, liberalism, natural duty of justice, international relations, rights
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