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The Emerging Right to Good Governance

  • Dobrochna Bach-Golecka (a1)
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From the perspective of international law, democracy may be regarded as a multifaceted phenomenon. On the one hand, it reflects the collective right of self-governance of a particular political community; on the other hand, it reflects an individual entitlement to participate in the conduct of public affairs of one's country. Democracy is connected to the principle of self-determination, understood as the freedom of a group to decide the system under which it wishes to live, while requiring a formalized set of voting procedures in order to implement this freedom. Democracy is focused on the procedural aspect of organizing elections, while not mandating any particular substantive outcome of those elections. In this essay, I propose that the right to democratic governance should be supplemented with a more robust concept: the substantive notion of good governance.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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1 Franck recognizes the importance of self-determination as “the historic root from which the democratic entitlement grew.” Thomas M. Franck, The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance, 86 AJIL 52 (1992).

2 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. Res. 217 art. 21 (Dec. 10, 1948) [hereinafter UDHR].

3 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights art. 25(b), Dec. 16, 1966, 999 UNTS 171.

4 Certain jurisdictions (i.e., Austria) have made attempts to grant some electoral rights to children by lowering the required age to vote to 16 years. There also have been attempts to construct the institution of citizenship in such a way as to grant an additional number of electoral votes to adults with children in order to have the children's existence reflected in the democratic decision-making process. Cf. John Wall, Why Children and Youth Should Have the Right to Vote: An Argument for Proxy-Claim Suffrage, 24 Child., Youth & Env'ts 108 (2014).

5 UDHR, supra note 2, art. 28.

6 Hurst Hannum, The Status of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in National and International Law, 25 Ga. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 287, 313 (1995–96).

7 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, G.A. Res. 34/180 (Dec. 18, 1979); Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, G.A. Res. 61/106, Dec. 13, 2007; Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nov. 20, 1989, 1577 UNTS 3. The latter is a unique example of universal validity as it has been ratified by every member of the United Nations, except for one: the United States.

9 UDHR, supra note 2, art. 29(1).

11 Michael Perry offers interesting real-world examples of those phenomena, stating that: “(1) A society's economic inequality may be such that the society's politics, even if nominally democratic, tends toward the plutocratic and therefore resists all but relatively small redistributive efforts to lift the poor out of poverty. (2) A society's social immobility may be such that most persons raised in poverty are destined to remain poor, or relatively poor, for the rest of their lives.” Michael J. Perry, A Global Political Morality: Human Rights, Democracy, And Constitutionalism 166 (2017).

12 Sibyl A. Schwarzenbach, On Civic Friendship: Including Women In The State 227 (2009).

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AJIL Unbound
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2398-7723
  • URL: /core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law
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