Group 5 IHRL.pdf - Democracy The word democracy comes from...

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Democracy The word democracy comes from Greek and means something similar to "government by the people". Issues relating to democracy have been discussed for several thousand years, but there is no definition of the term on which everybody in the world would agree. This is partly due to democracy being something that is constantly being developed and altered. However, there are some things that many can agree and related to democracy, for example the equal dignity and rights of all people, freedom of opinion, freedom of the press and freedom of expression, that all are equal in the eyes of the law and that free elections are held. The rule of law and the protection of human rights are necessary for a democracy to function/ to exist in reality. This is bec ause in a democracy the people (“citizens”) are the sovereign and hence govern themselves. For this democratic governance, the citizens must agree in democratic processes on the rules and law. However, if for example rules of simple majority apply, there is the danger of a “tyranny of the majority” violating the needs of some people over others /minorities. Human Rights This is the point in democracy human rights and civil rights come into play. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Countries that have adopted the Universal Declaration and claim to be a democracy hence must guarantee and recognize these inalienable human rights.
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Civil rights Moreover, civil rights are necessary to carry out the process of democratic decision-making. Only when there are rights such as freedom of speech, press and assembly, the right to privacy and equal voting rights, people can participate as active citizens in negotiating new rules and legislation to come into force. Separation of powers To avoid any abuse of power and to control that the principles of law are applied coherently, separation of powers secures the procedures in a democracy. This core principle assumes that a democracy can only function if there is a clear division between those who pass the laws (legislature), those who implement them (executive), and those who monitor and check them (judiciary). It is this separation of powers and the recognition of human and civil rights that presupposes the rule of law in a democracy. Or, putting it differently, rule of law and democracy are threatened when the separation of powers and human and civil rights are undermined. The Judiciary The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the judiciary generally does not make or enforce law , but rather interprets law and applies it to the facts of each case. However, the judiciary does make common law , setting precedent for other courts to follow. This branch of the state is often tasked with ensuring equal justice under law.
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  • Fall '18
  • Dr. Felix Odimmasi
  • Civil and political rights

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