Summary (Max 280 characters)The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. How do we get more democracy and better democracy?
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The link between democracy and human rights is captured in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”

The rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and subsequent human rights instruments covering the rights of certain groups (e.g.indigenous peoples, women, minorities, people with disabilities, migrant workers and members of their families) are equally essential for democracy as they ensure inclusivity for all groups, including equality and equity in respect of access to civil and political rights.

For several years, the UN General Assembly and the former Commission on Human Rights endeavored to draw on international human rights instruments to promote a common understanding of the principles, norms, standards and values that are the basis of democracy, with a view to guiding Member States in developing domestic democratic traditions and institutions; and in meeting their commitments to human rights, democracy and development.

This led to the articulation of several landmark resolutions of the former Commission on Human Rights.

In 2000, the Commission recommended a series of important legislative, institutional and practical measures to consolidate democracy (resolution 2000/47); and in 2002, the Commission declared the following as essential elements of democracy:

  • Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom of expression and opinion
  • Access to power and its exercise in accordance with the rule of law
  • The holding of periodic free and fair elections by universal suffrage and by secret ballot as the expression of the will of the people
  • A pluralistic system of political parties and organizations
  • The separation of powers
  • The independence of the judiciary
  • Transparency and accountability in public administration
  • Free, independent and pluralistic media

[Ref: https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/democracy/index.html]